Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004][20/03/2019 - giving up. I don't have enough time to update the blog atm, let alone edit old entries!]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive, chilling, and deliciously subversive by turns. Absolutely well worth a look!
Friday, December 31, 2010
Pretty whizz-bangs from t'other side of the world...
Yesterday ended up being stupidly tiring, although since we trawled Broadmead hunting for a watch for Kai after his ortho appointment, and I'm still getting over the 'flu, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised really. Still, the appointment went OK: he had both top and bottom braces tightened, and the ortho said his next appointment should just be a checkup - if all goes well, the next one after that will be to take the braces off. 'Oooray!
Two lots of shopping today, in the hopes that I won't need another until the week after next. It would be nice to start the new year relatively gently...
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
How many sparrows?
Finally feeling a little better - though sleeping in 'til 1.45 pm helped. Mysteriously, the horribly sludgy, crackling congestion lying heavily at the top of my lungs for the last two weeks has almost vanished overnight (Ken says it's because I threatened to take it to the doctor...) So got a wash put through, sorted out the fridge, opened the greenhouse door for twenty minutes to change the air while I watered - the citruses have a little frost damage but (fingers crossed) look OK: the Cape Gooseberry and pepino foliage is dead, but the roots might just possibly have survived, will see in the spring. Outside of the greenhouse the garden has pulled through well - and things are budding already:
Lichen on the fake redcurrant bush. This bush came with the house, and must be at least thirty years old now!
Berberis berries against the wall at the top of the garden.
We're working through Beauty and the Beast, and thoroughly enjoying it (even Kai, who is watching the occasional ep) - but I'll have more to say on the subject at the end of the first season.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Saw Tron Legacy. Irritations aside (that stupid, ugly, uncomfortable and impractical female programme footwear, for example) it was just wow. And incredibly beautiful. And we MUST HAVE THE SOUNDTRACK!
Monday, December 27, 2010
Oh joy. We have a mains water pipe leak across the road. Water's been turned off. They say it'll be an hour at most to repair it, so we assume it'll be back on at six. Maybe.
Ken's gone to buy some bottled water, just in case.
Edit, 5.50 pm: the water is back on. Shame upon me for my (perfectly reasonable!) lack of faith... [g]
[headdesk] I wrote 5.50, didn't I? I meant 4.50. 10 minutes before they said it would be. Sorry. I plead illness as an excuse...
Labels: domestic disasters
The Taylor Wild Bird Restaurant...
Blackcap? We're not sure - it's a very flitty bird - but we have had them in the garden before...
These were taken by Ken. I need a new camera...
Sunday, December 26, 2010
<- We've had a pied wagtail visiting the garden...
Well, I struggled through yesterday, which was a relative success. Everyone happy with their gifts, but dinner was mediocre. I'm told the turkey tasted fine (I have no sense of smell or taste at the moment) but it was a little dry and annoyingly sinewy (should have gone with my instincts instead of trusting the instructions on the packaging. Though the way I was feeling yesterday that would probably have gone wrong too).
Tyjer has been walking on Roeg's Pool. Hope he doesn't try it when the ice has melted... ->
However, it was gloriously sunny and there was still plenty of snow on the ground, which makes an unbroken record of 21 years of sunny Yules since we got married (and the third or fourth white one as well).
Today I feel drained and light-headed, but a little less dead. And the traditional buffet went down well.
Food porn for Lutra.
The garden is full of birds. As well as the wagtail, we've had the usual flock of sparrows, the blackbirds, a wren, blue and great tits (no longtails yet this year), flocks of fieldfares overhead (we put out chopped apples for them - haven't seen them land to eat, but the snow around the apples is covered with bird tracks, so something is eating them), and a little while ago there was a redwing eating one of the last medlars in the tree. ->
Ken's photo - taken in a hurry and without opening the window in case he scared the bird away, so he says sorry for the quality...
The mood was not improved by reading this on checking the news this morning. Absolutely appalling. I grew up in a house with no books - my mother called magazines books - and it wasn't until my teacher expressed her alarm at my low reading and writing abilities when I was in infant school that I got access to kids' reading material. Then mum used to sit and make me read to her - and at some point something clicked. From then on every penny I had - Yule and birthday money, pocket money, and even my busfare and lunch money when I was at college - was spent on books. (Heh, had to walk to and from college, a couple of miles each way, but fortunately not uphill both ways. Couldn't tell you where to find a grocery shop but could find every second hand and read-and-return bookshop in the Exeter area in my sleep...) Bloody government can spend millions (billions?) on a pointless unwinnable war but won't bother to invest in the future of its children - who are its future? Sickening. Short-sighted and sickening.
Edit: Oh now, that's interesting. I swear the wording in the article has changed from when I read it first thing, when it seemed that they were withdrawing all funding...
Later edit: aaaand the wording's changed again!
Planning to watch Neverwhere in a bit to try to bring the blood pressure down.
Friday, December 24, 2010
It's not a 24 hour thing, it's 'flu. This is going to be a fun festival.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
[sigh] This will be why Skype has been cutting out all afternoon and evening. Hope they get it fixed by tomorrow...
Made it over to the Showcase to see Voyage of the Dawn-Treader and loved it: in fact, I found the film better than the book, it hangs together so much better and takes advantage of the opportunities offered by the plot elements. That being said, I think it would be better watched in 2D: the 3D made some of the action blurring and eye-aching, and didn't really add much to the film as whole, which is a pity, but there you go.
But we dropped into Sainsbug's on the way back (for crisps, sausages and sweets for the tin - y'know, essentials) and I started feeling ill. Well, iller, as I haven't been right since I got that cold a month or so ago. I think it might be 'flu: have a temperature but I'm shivering, aching all over, skin's gone all sore and sensitive, stomach is most unhappy and I'm still coughing my throat raw. Not to mention that my head feels it wants to explode. Bloody typical. I've only had three Yules in the last 16 years when I haven't been ill or suffering in some way - really fed up with it.
Going to go to bed in a few minutes. Keeping fingers crossed this is just a 24 hour thing.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The 21st doesn't seem to be one of the traditional anniversaries, but the modern gift ideas are brass, nickel and iolite. We tend, these days, to just give each other little gifts with a personal meaning: I gave Ken a thrupenny bit - made of brass and nickel and struck in 1963 (the year of the first Big Freeze that we can remember) - on a keyring. This was always one of our favourite British coins - wonderfully eccentric!
And his card echoes the two swans that were on the top of our wedding cake... ->
[grin] And he said to me, "If we can't send you out into space, we'll bring a bit of space down to you!"
It's a slice of etched, iron-nickel meteorite with absolutely gorgeous Widmanstätten patterns, which fell in Sweden about 110,000 years ago. It's positively inspiring!
My trip into town was extremely successful (although I did discover that Thornton's are no longer making their Sicilian Lemon Mousse bars, which are my all time favourite. Bloody typical...) but the crowds were a bit much. I assume everyone who would normally have gone shopping on Saturday, when the weather was so bad, went today instead.
I'm making steak 'n' chips for dinner, and we have tiramisu for dessert. Then we're going to settle down with Star Wars for a spot of nostalgia.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Hm. I've had a reply from Royal Mail, effusively apologetic and accepting full responsibility. I feel somewhat mollified. Now we just need to see if the steps they've taken to correct the situation result in the item being delivered!
Kai was supposed to have a dentist check-up this afternoon, but the surgery rang this morning to cancel: the dentist is currently snowed in - in London? It must be bad over east then... Mind you, mum rang this morning (to wish us happy anniversary. Yes, she's a day early. I didn't correct her) and said they'd had a foot of snow in Exeter and my dad was out snowballing. Parents. Can't take 'em anywhere... Anyway, we'll need to reschedule Kai's appointment for his first school holiday next year.
I'm just hoping we'll be able to get to the orthodontic specialist on the 30th: if we have to miss that one it's going to delay the braces coming off.
Today was a day of shopping in the snow, both falling and fallen, getting the last of the bits we need for the next couple of weeks. K&K went to Sainsbug's; Ken and I then went over to Tesco. Wearing the Yaktrax of course. I am still flabbergasted at how wonderful they are and how brilliantly they work. (Although we do need to take them off in supermarkets, as they act like skates on tiled floors!)
Unfortunately I'm going to need to get into town tomorrow, but the Bath Rd is clear and the buses running, and the centre should be fairly snow-free (but I'll have the 'trax anyway, so no worries!) It shouldn't take me long.
Then I'm hoping to take Kai over to the Showcase on Thursday: the 3D versions of both Tron Legacy and Voyage of the Dawn Treader are showing over there, so we'll see one this week and try to get over for the other next week.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
We've now had an email from a 'customer service advisor' (HAH!) at Royal Mail which says:
I have checked our online records and there is no record of any surcharge payment having been made by you.
Let's forget for a moment that I paid this surcharge in STAMPS, and said as much in my original complaint, which this person has obviously not read. Let's instead consider that after that long phone call on Thursday we were told that there were no outstanding charges at our sorting office where the item is being held and the item would be delivered as usual. One or other of these two people must be either a) lying, b) incompetent, or c) both.
So I've sent them another online complaint, using the only form they have which generates a new reference no. every bloody time. Unfortunately I wasn't able to say everything I wanted, because they have a 1,000 character limit, but I've saved the text to include in the official complaint we're going to make after Yule (pointless trying now as they'll be far too busy to respond).
[snarl] I really loathe RM...
To try to calm the blood pressure, here's a photo Ken took yesterday during his and Kai's walk in Nightingale Valley. Clicking the pic will take you to a larger version.
Later edit: Oh yeah, I forgot to say - Kai's got another cold, so I'm trying to fight that off as well...
Saturday, December 18, 2010
However, it was a good opportunity to try out the Yaktrax. K&K went for a walk in the afternoon, and Kai and I went down to the park (for the APAG carol service - but I got the time wrong and they'd finished by the time we got there. Me and numbers, just doesn't work...) Happy to report the Yaktrax are absolutely fantastic. The pavements down our road are like glass where the sledders and their parents have been going back and forth to the park to enjoy sledging down the hill all day and compacted the snow, but the 'trax simply ignored it as if it wasn't there. Didn't slip once, even climbing up the hill in the park and back down again. Brilliant invention and well worth the cost.
Tyjer's not very fond of the snow though. Spent most of today curled up asleep on my bed, only surfacing for food. Sensible cat.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Well, we had a brief flurry of snow. Lasted about half an hour. Then the sun came out and melted everything.
But at least that made it easy to get to Tesco. ([sigh] All I seem to be doing at the moment is shopping.)
A little client site stuff, a little more writing - quite a relaxing day all told.
Labels: nowt really
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Well, Sorcerer's Apprentice is fantastic! A near-perfect blend of action, suspense, humour and romance with great acting - a definite must have.
[sigh] So, after thirty minutes hanging on the phone (at 10p per minute) Ken managed to get through to Royal Mail...
Apparently, stamping the card and sending it back to us is standard procedure - it's in case we can claim the cash back from a business, if the parcel comes from such an entity. Be nice if they would do something useful with this info, like actually telling us. The parcel should now be delivered as usual, though since it's been well over the 48 hours they advise such delivery will take it remains to be seen if it does actually arrive.
Dived down to Sainsbug's for supplies this morning - well, two trips actually, Ken went back for the heavy stuff, like potatoes, cat-food and beer. Now, alas, the milder few days are at an end and the Arctic wind is blowing outside once more. We have ice forecast for tomorrow, and ice and snow over the weekend, and Ken tells me there was a meteorologist on BBC24 earlier warning that the severe weather may last from now well into the New Year. Oh joy. Supermarket shortages will be next. Still, worse comes to worst, I can always bake bread for us...
On a happier note, Kai had a written German exam today. Tells me the top mark was 300: he got 285. So as a mini-treat we're renting a FilmFlex movie after dinner - probably Sorcerer's Apprentice (although Suck and The Mist were also strong contenders).
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
A day of bits and pieces, including a sort of emailed mini-interview, which might appear in the Bristol Review of Books in February. Quite fun!
Unfortunately the Kernowcraft caps are too small for the fang: going to have to wait 'til after Yule and get it repaired professionally. I'm sure it won't cost too much, it's not a huge job (which has the ring of 'famous last words'...)
Last week I picked up a DVD - The Hammer - Stage Fright which I think was probably a sampler for a variety of heavy/death/black metal bands, presumably a freebie with Kerrang! magazine or similar. At any rate, the expletives have been 'bleeped' out of the songs...
Anyway, we watched it before dinner. It's quite interesting (heh, pounding drums and wall of noise guitars, guys with loooong hair dressed in tight black leather - what's not to like!?) Some of it just translates to noise - Slipknot, Killswitch Engage, Dimmu Borgir, Municipal Waste - and the Manowar track (Warriors of the World United) comes across as simply pedestrian. And Alkaline Trio instantly transported Ken and I back to the 80's - reminded me of Sham 69, vaguely. But I really like Bullet for my Valentine's Tears Don't Fall (careful of the volume, it's quite loud....) And Cradle of Filth's Nymphetamine is simply wonderful.
But a special mention has to be made of the Deicide (great band name!) offering, The Stench of Redemption. (PLEASE NOTE: I'm not suggesting anyone actually go and listen to this track, the link is just there if you really, really want to.)
I'm afraid I laughed all the way through it, which is probably not the reaction they were hoping for. From the lead... um, I'm not sure I can truthfully refer to him as a singer, he seems to alternate between screeching like a macaw and grunting like a rutting badger... who reminded me vaguely of Bill Bailey (who, I hasten to add, is one of my favourite comedians) to the fact that half the time the band members each seem to be playing a completely different song... well, it was very funny. Even the audience weren't quite sure which rhythm to headbang or wave to.
Back to the rockface...
Monday, December 13, 2010
[sigh] I always underestimate how long a shopping trip will take at this time of year. At least I only had to queue in the Post Office for 15 minutes this time - it was closer to half an hour last time and the queue was almost out of the shop door...
Carried too much, too.
And then arrived back to find this ->
Regular readers may remember I'm not very impressed with Royal Mail, and haven't been for some time - particularly with their extortionate standard charges. On the 30th of November we had a card - this card - put through the letterbox, saying we had a parcel without sufficient postage on it and there was £1.15 to pay. That's 15p actual undercharge plus a £1 effing standard charge for RM. Usually I'd trudge down to the sorting office, a round trip that takes a little over an hour, but at the moment I'm too busy, so we took the second option, to put stamps to the value of £1.15 on the card and send it back so they would redeliver the parcel - I quote from the back of the card: Please affix postage to the correct value on the other side of this card. Post the card and we'll deliver the item.
Accordingly I took it into the post office at the back of Tesco in Baldwin Street when I went into town last week. As you can see, they had a £1 stamp, but were horribly short of everything else and the clerk made up the difference with 1p stamps. He stuck them all on himself and popped the card in the bag to go back to RM.
The incompetent bloody morons have sent the card back to us, instead of registering the payment and redelivering the parcel...
Needless to say the first thing I did on booting up was to complain online and request they deliver the parcel asap (because the sorting office that is holding the parcel is only open from 7 - 11 a.m so I couldn't contact them). They sent an automatic acknowledgement of receipt, and I'm now waiting for a response. We don't even know what the parcel is (though I suspect it might be from our agent as it's addressed to Ken, and he's been expecting another couple of the Ghosts book for the library).
So I am currently thoroughly pissed off - a state of affairs not helped by finding that the DVD of The Cell that I picked up cheap at the St Pete's Hospice shop today, won't play on our DVD player, only on the DVD recorder...
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Gah. There's just not enough hours in the day - I still haven't had time to tend to the orchids.
But the ice (over an inch thickness) is broken and lifted from the main water butt, the old downie arranged around it and the old shower curtain fineagled over that to protect it from any rain. I think it will work OK: it's a double duvet and even though it's old, it was a good one when new, and still retains much of its insulating properties.
I've moved my ficus through to this room temporarily to make room for the Yule tree ->
I wanted silver and blue this year. It's pretty when the lights (little blue points and golden snowflakes) are on.
Then I had to do a couple of major alterations to a sweatshirt (the sewing has actually left my left hand swollen: I really have sod all strength or stamina left in either of them these days) while dinner cooked. We managed to sit down for Macbeth though (the new Patrick Stewart version - so new I can't find it on the IMDb. Well, I couldn't when I looked it up before watching, it's probably there by now...) It's extremely good. I know a lot of people, Ken included, prefer their Shakespeare in traditional format and setting, but I like seeing modern adaptations. It's always interesting to see how well the works translate to the present.
Tired now - couldn't sleep last night, I was too hot. Thermostat's borked. Might even manage an early night - especially since I have to get out early to post and deliver cards and dive into Sainsbug for some essentials (sorry Lutra, forgot to say earlier. May be a little late on Skype).
Saturday, December 11, 2010
[grump] Remember my jade 'fang' earring? I've had it since 1975 - the year Ken and I met - and worn it damn near full time for the last two and a half decades. Now the cap (the bit on the top) has broken: the metal around the base of the jade has worn so thin it's snapped, and I can't find an identical replacement anywhere. I've ordered two different caps from Kernowcraft (we have an account with them), which will do for the time being, but I really need it repaired professionally, which will mean a trip up to Clifton Village and additional expense which we don't need this side of Yule. I've put in a stud for the moment, but it doesn't feel right without the fang brushing against my neck...
However, we also found some beautiful raw opal specimen cabochons on the site, and have ordered the best for Ken for Yule. I now need to find a small display box for the wall, preferably one with a mirrored back: will hunt on Monday.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Zooooom and the day was over. Business stuff in the morning, shopping in the afternoon, signing/enveloping/stamping Yule cards in the evening. Off to the Post Office to get them all in the post tomorrow. Heh, that was organised!
Thursday, December 09, 2010
We have crickets. Loud and tuneful crickets, admittedly, but Rosa-food nonetheless. The shop is easy to get to: the bus stops almost directly opposite and there's a pelican crossing right beside the bus-stop. It's a great place, and I got to cuddle a royal python. Gorgeous creatures. Although I'm not too sure about having a pet that could live to upwards of 30 years. It's bad enough that we might have Rosa for another 20...
The Gloucester Rd charity shop haul however was, unfortunately, rather poor.
And tonight was the finale of series two of Warehouse 13. AARRGGHH!! BUT there's a third season in production (with a US airing date of July 2011 for the first ep, so we might get it next autumn), and a Yule special on the 24th which is already remindered on DigiGuide. Will look forward to that.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
After a bit of a hunt I've found a local supplier of crickets (because Rosa is running desperately short and there's no point in ordering from the Welsh supplier: even if the mail is getting through with the snow, they'd be dead before they got here). So tomorrow it's a double bus trek up to The Reptile Zone for a tub of medium browns and a drool at their snakes. Because I love snakes. Always wanted one. Not really practical now, with Tyjer, not to mention the expense...
Weather's supposed to warm up a little tomorrow, after tonight's hard frost, so travel shouldn't be a problem. Though I've no idea how to cross the Gloucester Rd at that point (I've seen the shop from the bus and it's a very busy dual carriageway. There must be crossings, or an underpass, somewhere. Otherwise I'll have to go all the way out to Cribbs Causeway and get off on the right side of the road on the way back!)
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Pretty, but cold. Sub-zero cold. Brass monkey cold. Cold, I tell you.
Lutra: Stay warm : ) I'm sure Bodiecat will be happy to help.
Monday, December 06, 2010
I swear my cat thinks he's a puppy. He comes when I call him, will (occasionally) play fetch with a ball, follows me around the house trying to trip me up - and when he sees me put on my boots to head out he sits at the door gazing up forlornly asking me not to go.
And then he sits at the door waiting for me to come back.
Mind you, he's definitely his mum's kit. He'll allow other people to pet him, if he knows them, and even feed him if I'm not around, but I'm his choice of petting and sleeping partner, and he'll come and wake me up to be fed if he thinks I've slept long enough, regardless of Ken already awake and working in his study.
It's very cute.
Realised we were out of bread and milk this morning, necessitating a trip to Sainsbug's. (Yes, I know, strange thing to not have realised before, but I don't drink milk - can't stand it - and the bread had gone stale.) Was worth it though: found McGuigan Hallmark Chardonnay Semillon on special, so picked up a bottle for Yule dinner (Australian wines are our favourite - though I'm tempted by some of the new (to us) New Zealand wines now appearing on the shelves. Perhaps for New Year).
As for the rest - working on Heart.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
[blink] It's Sunday. Despite making sure I got to Tesco to buy something for dinner before Sunday closing at 4 pm, I've spent the day thinking it's Saturday.
Time and I really are not on speaking terms at the moment...
After a relatively pleasant couple of days - sunny, still, temperature hovering around zero rather than below it - we now have a severe overnight frost and below zero temps forecast for the region for the next few days, oh joy. There are rumours of another really bad January on the way, too, but that's not confirmed. Spring seems a very long way away.
Skype. Wonderful thing.
Lutra: and I'm hanging out second load of washing... bbs!
Probly bed tiemz nao.
Labels: strangeness and charm
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Rain. But at least it isn't so cold.
Labels: nowt really
Friday, December 03, 2010
Kai's inset Friday... Friday? What happened to Thursday?...
Ah, yes, it was kind of busy and kind of tiring, lots of client stuff and general clearing up/wrapping presents/making crackers. Had an early-ish exhausted night.
Since it was an inset day and Kai was home, we went to see Deadly Hallows Pt 1 at 11 am at the Showcase (Ken recorded the ep for you, Lutra). Enjoyable and well made, but the use of deus ex machina annoyed me in the book and is even more annoying onscreen.
Trust Tyjer to find the sunniest spot - on top of Dave next door's neighbour's shed...->
Sainsbug shop on the way back from the cinema, and when we arrived home my Tayberry had arrived from T&M (they sent me a £5 gift voucher and the plant was £4.99, so I only had to pay for p&p) so I had to dive out and pot it up - it's in the greenhouse for protection at the moment - before I could do anything else.
Then Kai fancied watching my latest Lovefilm rental, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time... Oh dear. I kept falling asleep, but then, I find interminable fight scenes relentlessly soporific. I suppose it was a fair interpretation of the video game (I've only ever seen clips from it) but otherwise... And what the hell accent was Gyllenhaal going for? Some kind of weird Depp Cockney? Disappointing film, and not even that pretty.
Wore my new boots for the first time, since there was snow and frost on the ground. I'm in love! They are unbelievably comfortable and their grip is phenomenal. Sooo chuffed.
Still suffering this bug, and now Ken has it. This is getting very silly.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
The 'blasted cold' in yesterday's post refers to my cold, not the cold weather.
The day erupted with a pressing need to get into town, so I bought a FirstDay ticket and zipped up to Wild Oats for supplies and Bristol Guild while I was at it. Picked up the ostrich and juniper berry paté: they also had jars of wild boar and cognac paté, so I bought one to try.
Found a small handful of Yule presents as well, though still nothing good for Ken. The man is impossible to buy for!