Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...

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

Other sites:

:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications ::

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

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

If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.

The Poppy Tales

(Transformers fanfiction!)

Transformers mini-comics here.

Adventures in Orchids

Apparently I am now collecting them...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My IMDb ep summaries

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

For later:

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

Silver birch at Eastwood 


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

(Joules, Autumn 2004)

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

In Memoriam

17.03.09 - Argent

25.07.08 - Raptor

18.12.07 - Quyn

02.12.06 - Ryme

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

Currently reading:
Various Transformers books and graphic novels.

Currently working on:

Currently chuffed with:
My garden

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

Currently maintaining:

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

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

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

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

TPTB - The Powers That Be.

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

biteable - referring to an anatomical part vb, tasty.

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

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

Cumbles - n, cucumbers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Splish - verb. A combination of slosh and splash.

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

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

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

Murfs - noun, moths.

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

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

Shrumps - noun, mushrooms.

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

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

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

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

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

The Updates Blog

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

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

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

Butch by the talented 


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



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

A'lestrel by Valkyrie.

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

Albino Alsatian Benten (c) MEBird 


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

Radittsu, an oekaki for my birthday 04 



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

The Zone Plant from
The Zone 



OrganicHTML (which alas no longer seems to exist...)
[::..My Regular Reads..::]
:: Astronomical Pic of the Day [>]
:: What is Space... [>]
:: Dark Roasted Blend [>]
:: BLDG [>]
:: Watchismo Times [>]
[::..Fun Places..::]
::PALEOMAP Project
Absolutely fascinating.
:: Skymap
Check out the night sky where you are!
[::..Useful Sites..::]
:: GreenNet
First stop for environmental matters
:: The Forest of Avon
Our local community forest and places to visit
:: The Guardian
Online Guardian Newspaper.
:: Symbols
Exactly what it says
:: World Timeserver
For checking the current time around this world
:: Universal Currency Converter
Actually it's just a terran-global currency converter, not universal, but it's still useful...

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

I'll leave that to others to decide.

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

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

How could I resist?

Just too adorable...

and to complete the rainbow...

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

Useful sites:

Fabulous anime figures

Anime Lyrics
A huge selection... evil popups

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

   Dj: June Special
   CD: Ambivalence

Cyber City Oedo 808

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

From Eroica with Love

   Manga Vols 1, 9, 11

Mirage of Blaze

   DVD Vol 1 (eps 1-4)

R.G. Veda

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

Twelve Kingdoms

   Anime Vol 1-12: complete

Under the Glass Moon

   Manga Vol 1, 2
Vol 3 needed

Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust


   Vampire Hunter D Book 1

New Vampire Miyu

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

Yami no Matsuei

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

[::..Joules SP fied..::]

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

(Thanks, Lutra, for the quote!)

07/01/2002 - 07/31/2002
08/01/2002 - 08/31/2002
09/01/2002 - 09/30/2002
10/01/2002 - 10/31/2002
11/01/2002 - 11/30/2002
12/01/2002 - 12/31/2002
01/01/2003 - 01/31/2003
02/01/2003 - 02/28/2003
03/01/2003 - 03/31/2003
04/01/2003 - 04/30/2003
05/01/2003 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2003 - 06/30/2003
07/01/2003 - 07/31/2003
08/01/2003 - 08/31/2003
09/01/2003 - 09/30/2003
10/01/2003 - 10/31/2003
11/01/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/01/2003 - 12/31/2003
01/01/2004 - 01/31/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/29/2004
03/01/2004 - 03/31/2004
04/01/2004 - 04/30/2004
05/01/2004 - 05/31/2004
06/01/2004 - 06/30/2004
07/01/2004 - 07/31/2004
08/01/2004 - 08/31/2004
09/01/2004 - 09/30/2004
10/01/2004 - 10/31/2004
11/01/2004 - 11/30/2004
12/01/2004 - 12/31/2004
01/01/2005 - 01/31/2005
02/01/2005 - 02/28/2005
03/01/2005 - 03/31/2005
04/01/2005 - 04/30/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/31/2005
06/01/2005 - 06/30/2005
07/01/2005 - 07/31/2005
08/01/2005 - 08/31/2005
09/01/2005 - 09/30/2005
10/01/2005 - 10/31/2005
11/01/2005 - 11/30/2005
12/01/2005 - 12/31/2005
01/01/2006 - 01/31/2006
02/01/2006 - 02/28/2006
03/01/2006 - 03/31/2006
04/01/2006 - 04/30/2006
05/01/2006 - 05/31/2006
06/01/2006 - 06/30/2006
07/01/2006 - 07/31/2006
08/01/2006 - 08/31/2006
09/01/2006 - 09/30/2006
10/01/2006 - 10/31/2006
11/01/2006 - 11/30/2006
12/01/2006 - 12/31/2006
01/01/2007 - 01/31/2007
02/01/2007 - 02/28/2007
03/01/2007 - 03/31/2007
04/01/2007 - 04/30/2007
05/01/2007 - 05/31/2007
06/01/2007 - 06/30/2007
07/01/2007 - 07/31/2007
08/01/2007 - 08/31/2007
09/01/2007 - 09/30/2007
10/01/2007 - 10/31/2007
11/01/2007 - 11/30/2007
12/01/2007 - 12/31/2007
01/01/2008 - 31/01/2008
01/02/2008 - 29/02/2008
03/01/2008 - 31/03/2008
01/04/2008 - 04/30/2008
01/05/2008 - 31/05/2008
01/06/2008 - 30/06/2008
01/07/2008 - 31/07/2008
01/08/2008 - 31/08/2008
01/09/2008 - 30/09/2008
01/10/2008 - 31/10/2008
01/11/2008 - 31/11/2008
01/12/2008 - 31/12/2008
01/12/2008 - 31/12/2008
01/01/2009 - 31/01/2009
01/02/2009 - 28/02/2009
01/03/2009 - 31/03/2009
01/04/2009 - 30/04/2009
01/05/2009 - 31/05/2009
01/06/2009 - 30/06/2009
01/07/2009 - 31/07/2009
01/08/2009 - 31/08/2009
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01/11/2009 - 30/11/2009
01/12/2009 - 31/12/2009
01/01/2010 - 31/01/2010
01/02/2010 - 28/02/2010
01/03/2010 - 31/03/2010
01/04/2010 - 30/04/2010
01/05/2010 - 31/05/2010
01/06/2010 - 30/06/2010
01/07/2010 - 31/07/2010
01/08/2010 - 31/08/2010
01/09/2010 - 30/09/2010
01/10/2010 - 31/10/2010
01/11/2010 - 31/11/2010
01/12/2010 - 31/12/2010
01/01/2011 - 31/01/2011
01/02/2011 - 28/02/2011
01/03/2011 - 31/03/2011
01/04/2011 - 30/04/2011
01/05/2011 - 31/05/2011
01/06/2011 - 30/06/2011
01/07/2011 - 31/07/2011
01/08/2011 - 31/08/2011
01/09/2011 - 30/09/2011
01/10/2011 - 31/10/2011
01/11/2011 - 30/11/2011
01/12/2011 - 31/12/2011
01/01/2012 - 31/01/2012
01/02/2012 - 28/02/2012
01/03/2012 - 31/03/2012
01/04/2012 - 30/04/2012
01/05/2012 - 31/05/2012
01/06/2012 - 30/06/2012
01/07/2012 - 31/07/2012
01/08/2012 - 31/08/2012
01/09/2012 - 30/09/2012
01/10/2012 - 31/10/2012
01/11/2012 - 30/11/2012
01/12/2012 - 31/12/2012
01/01/2013 - 31/01/2013
01/02/2013 - 28/02/2013
01/03/2013 - 31/03/2013
01/04/2013 - 30/04/2013
01/05/2013 - 31/05/2013
01/06/2013 - 31/06/2013
01/07/2013 - 31/07/2013
01/08/2013 - 31/08/2013
01/09/2013 - 30/09/2013
01/10/2013 - 31/10/2013
01/11/2013 - 30/11/2013
01/12/2013 - 31/12/2013
01/01/2014 - 31/01/2014
01/02/2014 - 28/02/2014
01/03/2014 - 31/03/2014
01/04/2014 - 30/04/2014
01/05/2014 - 31/05/2014
01/06/2014 - 31/06/2014
01/07/2014 - 31/07/2014
01/08/2014 - 31/08/2014
01/09/2014 - 31/09/2014
01/10/2014 - 31/10/2014
01/11/2014 - 30/11/2014
01/12/2014 - 31/12/2014
01/01/2015 - 31/01/2015
01/02/2015 - 28/02/2015
01/03/2015 - 31/03/2015
01/04/2015 - 30/04/2015
01/05/2015 - 31/05/2015
01/06/2015 - 30/06/2015
01/07/2015 - 31/07/2015
01/08/2015 - 31/08/2015
01/09/2015 - 30/09/2015
01/10/2015 - 31/10/2015
01/11/2015 - 31/11/2015
01/12/2015 - 31/12/2015
01/01/2016 - 31/01/2016
01/022016 - 28/02/2016
01/03/2016 - 31/03/2016
01/04/2016 - 31/04/2016
01/05/2016 - 31/05/2016
01/06/2016 - 30/06/2016
01/07/2016 - 31/07/2016
01/08/2016 - 31/08/2016
01/09/2016 - 31/09/2016
01/10/2016 - 31/10/2016
01/11/2016 - 31/11/2016
01/12/2016 - 31/12/2016
01/01/2017 - 31/01/2017
01/02/2017 - 28/02/2017
01/03/2017 - 31/03/2017
01/04/2017 - 30/04/2017
01/05/2017 - 31/05/2017
01/06/2017 - 30/06/2017
01/07/2017 - 31/07/2017
01/08/2017 - 31/08/2017
01/09/2017 - 30/09/2017
01/10/2017 - 31/10/2017
01/11/2017 - 30/11/2017
01/12/2017 - 31/12/2017
01/01/2018 - 31/01/2018
01/02/2018 - 28/02/2018
01/03/2018 - 31/03/2018
01/04/2018 - 30/04/2018
01/05/2018 - 31/05/2018
01/06/2018 - 30/06/2018
01/07/2018 - 31/07/2018
01/08/2018 - 31/08/2018
01/09/2018 - 30/09/2018
01/10/2018 - 31/10/2018
01/11/2018 - 30/11/2018
01/12/2018 - 31/12/2018
01/01/2019 - 31/01/2019
01/02/2019 - 28/02/2019
01/03/2019 - 31/03/2019
01/04/2019 - 30/04/2019
01/05/2019 - 31/05/2019
01/06/2019 - 30/06/2019
01/07/2019 - 31/07/2019
01/08/2019 - 31/08/2019
01/09/2019 - 30/09/2019
01/10/2019 - 31/10/2019
01/11/2019 - 30/11/2019
01/12/2019 - 31/12/2019
01/01/2020 - 31/01/2020
01/02/2020 - 29/02/2020
01/03/2020 - 31/03/2020
01/04/2020 - 31/04/2020
01/05/2020 - 31/05/2020
01/06/2020 - 31/06/2020
01/07/2020 - 31/07/2020
01/08/2020 - 31/08/2020
01/09/2020 - 30/09/2020
01/10/2020 - 31/10/2020
01/11/2020 - 30/11/2020
01/12/2020 - 31/12/2020
01/01/2021 - 31/01/2021
01/02/2021 - 28/02/2021
01/03/2021 - 31/03/2021
01/04/2021 - 30/04/2021
01/05/2021 - 31/05/2021
01/06/2021 - 30/06/2021
01/07/2021 - 31/07/2021
01/08/2021 - 31/08/2021
01/09/2021 - 30/09/2021
01/10/2021 - 31/10/2021
01/11/2021 - 30/11/2021
01/12/2021 - 31/12/2021
01/01/2022 - 31/01/2022
01/02/2022 - 28/02/2022
01/03/2022 - 31/03/2022
01/04/2022 - 30/04/2022
01/05/2022 - 30/05/2022
01/06/2022 - 31/06/2022
01/07/2022 - 31/07/2022
01/08/2022 - 31/08/2022
01/09/2022 - 30/09/2022
01/10/2022 - 31/10/2022
01/11/2021 - 31/11/2021
01/12/2022 - 31/12/2022
01/01/2023 - 31/01/2023
01/02/2023 - 28/02/2023
01/03/2023 - 31/03/2023
01/04/2023 - 30/04/2023
01/08/2023 - 31/08/2023
01/11/2023 - 31/11/2023

Thursday, June 30, 2011

acanthus flower spike

<- Acanthus flower spike.

blueberry bushes

Blueberry bushes. Possibly my best edible plant buy so far! ->

Kai had a phone call yesterday, from his IT tutor, to say the moderators wanted all the IT students back into school this morning...

As it happened, it was simply to convert pages of their IT projects from templates to non-templates (summat to do with Powerpoint, I gather) because the moderators don't like templates. [rolls eyes] It took the sprogs all of 15 minutes. (Well, it took Kai a bit longer as he stayed back to help a couple of his peers.)

Kai then walked home (it's bloody miles) partly along the river, which is, admittedly, a very nice walk, especially at this time of year.

While he was doing that and Ken was working on revisions/comments/queries for the book, I tanked into town. Had a number of things to do (shoe repairs, pick up a skoosh, odds and sods from Wilkinson's) and managed to accomplish them all!

- Two day's blueberry harvest...

The public sector worker's strike happened here too - a large crowd of strikers brought traffic to a near standstill while I was heading for the bus home.
burpless cucumber

... and the first cucumber... ->


<- ... and the first tomatoes.

These went into the spagbol for dinner. After which we watched The Happening, which I picked up cheaply at Sainsbug's. Scary film. You can never be sure with Shayamalan - Sixth Sense was brilliant, The Village abysmal - but we really enjoyed it. Plausible too, which added to the chill...

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

[grump] Shopping...

Sainsbug do a delicious small tub of low-fat salad - tomato and basil pasta - that I discovered a year or so ago and really really like. (OK, I'm addicted.) At the time it was around 80p or so in price. Last year it went up to just over a pound, and I started thinking twice before I bought it. Then last summer they had it on special, two for £1.50 (or something like that - it's numbers and numbers and I don't get on...) Earlier this year it jumped to £1.39 seemingly overnight, and I started buying it just every now and then for a treat. Then for the last few weeks it's been on a 'buy two for £2' special, and I've been able to enjoy it properly again (I find it very useful, as it's fairly low cal but quite sweet, and a couple of spoonfuls is quite enough to quell the munchies). Today I stopped at the cooler, hoping the special was still on - to find that the price is now £1.49.

Sod that for a game of soldiers - I'll make my own!

Kai's organic fruit juice has gone from 89p to £1.19 in a couple of weeks too.

Recession - who needs it?

Tyjer doesn't like hedgehogs invading his garden, he keeps nagging me to let him out so he can have words with them...

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A pretty sky tonight, and an advert that always makes me laugh is no longer available, alas.

Tired again...

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Early night, bit of a lie-in, and waking up with an odd but fun dream in which I-in-another-being was both navigator and power source for a very large starship, and I'm much more awake.

Yesterday was good. Off to Whitehall Garden Centre with Kim: picked up two potting compost bags, a sack of sunflower seeds (they only had one left!), two bags of berry suet treats, a laaaaage pot of dried mealworms (they only had the largest size left - guess lots of people are feeding their birds), and a pretty new fern for Kai's woodland pool. Had coffee and a good catchup chat while we were there - many thanks, Kim!

Ken went over to Sandy Park get some info from a friend - and arrived back with a myrtle sprig for me to try to root up. I've never had much success with cuttings (well, except for my dracaena) so keeping fingers crossed. They are rather tender plants, so I may have to see if I can keep it in a container and put in the greenhouse over winter. (Heh. So far the things that need to overwinter in greenhouse are lemongrass, the Vietnamese mint, French tarragon, a container of potatoes, and the garden bench. Will there be room for a myrtle, I ask myself...

I am very glad I have the greenhouse!

Weather dull(ish) and a lot cooler than last two days: I've risked washing the sofa covers. They seem to be drying OK. This week isn't going to be much cop for writing, unfortunately, as I have a whole load of client stuff to get done, which is going to take hours and necessitate a walk down the Bath Rd from Flowers Hill to Brislington Village. I also have to get into town at some point. And also do a belated and much needed spring-clean through the house - including washing the windows. And, if it warms up, which it might, I'll paint the feature wall in our room. All a bit busy. Still, Kai will be quite happy to do his own stuff this week, I'm sure.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Garden centre trip was successful (if expensive). Now I am absolutely exhausted - can't keep eyes open. Practically no sleep last night with the heat. No choice but to have an early night. 'fraid emails will have to wait another day...



Sunday, June 26, 2011

... HOT...

It must have hit 28° this afternoon. Ken came to Sainsbug's to help me carry shopping (had milk, fruit juices and potatoes to buy, too much for me): got back practically melting, but veg bed and greenhouse are no respecters of human suffering (or bare feet: the slabs inside were too hot to stand on) and demand attention regardless...

Then again, I have a number of cucumbers forming (on both plants now), the first tomatoes are ripening, all the pepper plants and the melons have flowerbuds (as do two of my white egret orchids!) the courgette plants have their first flowers, the dwarf beans flowers are close to opening, I'm eating blueberries nearly every day, and the mange tout remains prolific. And the sweetcorn is growing doggedly on. It is worth the effort, honest.

Kai has his last exam tomorrow afternoon - then he's off until the end of August!

Kim's taking me to Whitehall garden centre tomorrow morning [glomps Kim] - I am completely out of sunflower seeds, mealworms and fruity suet treats. I need at least four sacks of sunflower seeds a year to keep the birds fed, and in a vicious winter another one wouldn't go amiss. Not a cheap hobby, this helping native wildlife...

I've taken a bit of time tonight to start going through all the old blog entries: the early ones are near-unreadable since I changed the template, and a number of the early photographs have the wrong links on them. A hell of a job (I've got as far as October 2002 tonight) but it's something I've wanted to do for ages. Will try to get a bit done every night before closing down. Heh. It's only 3,700+ posts... (Actually, a little less than that as I changed the format early 2010...)

Wendy - it's the week beginning the 7th. Sorry I haven't replied - will do asap.

[sigh] There's something out in the garden really annoying Tyjer, he hasn't been this agitated or growly for ages. Only hope he sticks to ranting at it down here - we have all the windows open upstairs to try to make the heat bearable, last thing I need is him thinking he can fly...

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gah, busy again. And I have emails I haven't answered yet and I'm too tired to do it tonight.

Latest Lovefilm offering was Plan 9 from Outer Space, which we watched after dinner and which at least had Kai and I in stitches. Truly bad film...

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Off we tanked to watch Green Lantern...

Hm. I knew nothing about the superheroes or story before today (well, I recognised the costume and knew the story had something to do with magic rings, and that the idea is pretty old - I thought 50s but actually the Green Lantern first appeared in 1940, it seems) so both Kai and I went into it blind, as it were. It was interesting. Gorgeous CGI - the space shots were amazing, especially in 3D. Interesting concept, although I'm not entirely sure that the 40s comic translates perfectly into 2011 (Kai said it came over as being cartoonish. Fair enough, the original was, but...) and I can't say I was impressed with Hal Jordan's imagination. But it was enjoyable in a weird sort of way, once you get past the strangely anachronistic feel of some of the characters - and the green lanterns themselves. (Lanterns? Ohhhh kaaaay...) One to pick up when we see it cheap. (Although it won't be quite the same in 2D.)

Quick shop at Sainsbug's on the way back, then a little gardening (in the rain). Kai moved the two suffering ferns from the square down to the woodland pool, where they'll be much happier.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Out and about, in town, doing stuff. 558 bus up to Broadwalk for DVDs and bits and pieces (including bird muesli (that's muesli for birds, not made of same) and two rainbow windmills for the garden), then into town to bank, Robert Dyas (to try to get Sodastream sugar free tonic syrup, which they no longer stock nor can order, soddit), Lush for soap, then X39 out to Hurrans for swingy bird table/feeder thingy and ferns for Kai's woodland pool. Found a nice hartstongue, which he planted when we got back - and they were having an end of season sale on some of their summer stock. Bought myself two nemesia, a Berries and Cream and a Fragrant Gem. Gorgeous fragrance, vanilla and cream, with a faint hint of lilac in the Fragrant Gem. I don't usually buy flowering plants but these were 50% and 75% off respectively, and they're so pretty and perfumed I couldn't resist. They're supposed to be perennials, needing overwintering in greenhouse, so we'll see how we go...

And I discovered heucheras. This link should take you to the google images page for the plant - I could not believe the glorious variety of foliage colours. Hurrans had at least three dozen plants on display and every single one was a different colour. Just fabulous. I'd love some - but they were £8.99 each and you'd need at least three to start with, to show them off properly. Perhaps I'll make a start next year, and build up a collection bit by bit, when I've decided where I can put them!

Planning to see Green Lantern (in 3D) with Kai in the next couple of days. Nice bit of escapism: I know sod all about the hero so it'll all be new to us...

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The day continued busy, but was successful.
veg bed

Kai finished his design project about three-thirty, then hoed the sweetcorn patch for me, as well as trimming the grass around the veg bed and fruit cage, which was much appreciated as it saved my back and hands. We did the greengages between us (we'll have a nice harvest if they all ripen - and don't all get eaten by the bugs!) and were settled to watch A Town Called Eureka after dinner. (It's a terrific series - we're really enjoying it.)

The 'quickie' part of the veg bed ->

Welsh onion, carrots, normal (very large!) onions, mange tout, dwarf beans, sweetcorn in the background.

Earlier on Skye:

Joules: Kai's last exam is next Monday - then he's off, effectively, until beginning Sept.
Lutra: wow.
He wants to learn C++ over his hol, and we have to completely do his room as he's getting a new bed (finally). And there's the garden. Going to trim the old edge of the veg bed, get the pea bed ready and a framework built for that, and a new strawberry bed to dig and edge... rockery to weed and sort out, ivy to prune everywhere when the fledglings have flown... railway to fix...
Buddleia to completely prune back to manageable.
Square to weed and tend.
Bay tree to prune.
Fence to paint...
...and books to write.

[g] One or two little chores to stop you getting bored in your life of leisure eh?
[eyebrow] What is this leisure that you speak of?

Food porn for Lutra - medium-grilled lamb leg streak, homegrown spuds, carrots and mange tout, organic peas... [g] Very tasty it was too. Next time I make my own mint sauce though - I have enough mint now.

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Very much a garden day today...

My mange tout are being amazingly prolific this year - have now blanched and frozen the first batch and there'll still be plenty for dinner, though that being said there's not enough plants to actually supply our needs (we really like mange tout!) So I'm planning to dig a long, thin new bed alongside the fence at the top, and devote that to mange tout and peas (and maybe a few sweet-peas to make the place smell nice and encourage the bees!) for the next few years. This does mean co-ordinating with Dave next door, as I'll need to paint the fence thoroughly first, and his side will need doing too so the plants don't get paint-damaged (edit: just spoken to him so that's all sorted). The fence does need doing, and I've bought a cordless battery operated Cuprinol sprayer from the Range for £9.99 - £20 off (hope that's not because the thing doesn't work!) so I can do the work myself can't use paintbrush or pump action sprayer, too hard on my hands).

Also furtled out the potatoes from the planter - only enough for two meals, but that's one up on last year and they're very tasty looking. Will try to focus more on spuds next year - so far I've only had minimal success, and that needs to change!

... I'm wondering whether it might be possible to grow spuds in the planter in the greenhouse over the winter... already planning to get some carrots in the cold frame once the melons have finished, so we can have fresh even if the weather's bad. Well, that's the plan, anyway!

Kai's finishing off a school project at the moment: when he's finished he's offered to help me in the garden. Need to pick the extra greengages off the trees to allow them to ripen properly without rubbing against each other.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Joyous Solstice, All!

[sigh] Great start to the day. We lost TV and broadband early this morning - no idea why. After the standard 'switch off then on again' failed to work I rang tech support to report the problem. Very nice guy there explained that Virginmedia were working on a major upgrade and everything would be dead between 8 am and 6 pm - possibly for the next three days - but outside of those times we should be OK. (It would be nice if they'd work out some way of, like, akshully telling us this is going to happen...)

In fact, though, they finished it much earlier: Kai took a call while I was out shopping this afternoon to check that everything was back to normal, which was nice of them. Haven't noticed anything different yet: will see when I boot up tomorrow.

Tonight was quite exciting though. Kai was feeling hot, so went to stand outside and enjoy the cool evening air for a bit. And while he was there our hedgehog arrived (we think from the front, which is a bit worrying as we've had several run over by cars in the past), trundled past him and went straight for the pile of peanuts I now leave out every night. Kai was dead chuffed to see him, and after he'd come in we both watched from the upstairs landing window - I've placed the food so you can see it clearly from there. And to our great surprise, while he was munching away a second, smaller hedgehog arrived at the 'level-crossing' on the patio side of the meadow! This had me a little concerned, as I thought the wee beasts were rather solitary and fought if they met, but it all seemed quite amicable, and they went their separate ways after meeting (at least, they were heading towards each other and would have met behind the lavender, where we can't see what's happening!)

Ah - just found a good info page (erk, aren't supposed to give them whole peanuts... will get the bag in tomorrow and break them into smaller pieces, and mix with sultanas and sunflower seeds from now on) which says it's not unusual to have more than one in the garden and they usually just avoid each other. This is great! Of course, what would be even better would be if they were male and female and mated (not tonight, too quiet!) It would be great to have a bunch of hoglets in the garden.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

(Small edit at bottom of post)

[blink] OK, that was... cute.

A small ginger cat has just wandered in through the open patio doors. At first I thought it was Tyjer, then quickly realised it was far too small to be him. It glanced around warily then headed for his food bowl in the kitchen: needless to say I caught the kit and carried it out to the garden to shoo it away before his lordship arrived back from wherever he's patrolling this morning (since I don't really fancy clearing up blood today...) I haven't seen this one before, it may be new to the neighbourhood. It has a collar and one of those tube things with the address written inside, so it's not a stray, and in fact it was surprisingly heavy for such a small, thin kit, so it's being well-fed. Obviously used to being handled too, as it didn't struggle. I do hope whoever it owns keeps it in at nights though - and that it learns to avoid the garden, or Ty will have it for breakfast.

And speaking of the big pudgy one... I strongly suspect that he is doing the same - sneaking into other houses and eating their cats' food. He's getting fatter, even though I'm only giving him two pouches and a bowl of dried food a day. This is not good - the vet will not be happy when he goes next.

But on a happier note - I picked the first blueberries of the season today. Blueberries and apple and elderflower yoghurt and a mug of jasmine green tea for breakfast - it's summer!

[edit] Lutra asked what the Bristol Dragon - see previous post and the associated photos - is all about. You can find info about Bristol's very own dinosaur, the Thecodontosaurus, here. Artists' drawings here.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

A grand day out (although the Museum got very busy very quickly: we'll go back in the summer for a more leisurely exploration). There's a page of pics here.

I bought some herbs, of course! The bugs have pretty much decimated the herbs I grew from seed and planted in the new little herb bed, so I picked up replacements - flat-leaved parsley, common thyme and a sturdy hyssop. The stall also had lemongrass and persicaria odorata (a.k.a Vietnamese mint or Vietnamese coriander but actually belonging to neither family): Lutra had recommended the latter and as it does smell very interesting (very nice!) and it was cheap I thought I'd give it a try. The last two are now in Sue's big terracotta pots on the slabs outside the greenhouse (recommended to keep them inside in the winter) while the others are now planted in the little bed. Kai also repotted his bonsais, and I got some more salad leaves on the go. So the day ended up being quite busy, and I'm not planning an early night, because every time I say I am I never manage it...

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

fruit ice lolly

We caught an ad for fruit ice lollies on TV (can't remember which make) and Kai thought they looked rather nice, so I had a go at making some. Very easy - sliced strawberries and halved raspberries layered in a lolly-maker filled up with strawberry/raspberry/apple juice (Sainsbug's do their own triple pack of lunch-box sized cartons) and frozen for 24 hours. We tried one each after lunch: extremely nice, but a little on the sharp side, so I sprinkled the fruit with a tiny bit of xylitol sweetener for the next batch. It works so well I'll try some other varieties (fresh pineapple makes a lovely version!)
contented suncat

Contented suncat... ->

In my quest to eventually replace all our videos with DVDs, I found Elvira, Mistress of the Dark in a double bill with Transylvania 6-5000, both old favourites and available via amazon from moviemars (who we've used often in the past - highly recommended!) for a total of £5.98, including p&p - excellent value for money. We'll watch one of them tonight.

Planning to get into town tomorrow with Kai for the Festival of Nature and a look around the revamped M Shed museum. Likely to be very tiring!

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Gah, tired...

Ken's birthday today: spent it working, unfortunately, but enjoyed the steak dinner and Eton mess dessert. And we watched his present from Kai, And now for something completely different. Hugely enjoyable, had Kai and I in stitches (especially the Upper Class Twit of the Year, which had Kai choking on his ham and cheese slice). It was his first real intro to the Pythons, and he's now seen the origin of "My hovercraft is full of eels". Also of longcat. I'd forgotten about the Pythons' longcat...

On a less cheerful note, apparently there was a question wrong in Kai's physics GCSE this afternoon - they were advised by teachers before the exam. It's really not good enough, is it?

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Off we went to the Post Office to get the Fathers' Day cards in the post (it's on Sunday and we only just realised today we hadn't sent them. I swear this year has been so bloody hectic I've barely had time to think, let alone sleep...) and then into ZONE, the hair salon opposite Casanova...

It's nice inside, very clean, uncluttered, modern and tranquil. I spoke to a very pleasant young man called Jeff (who I'd guess is the owner), explained what had happened and showed him my printout of the hair-over-eyes photo so he had some idea of what I'm after, and asked if he could help.

ugly much better

He took the time to tidy it up for me then and there - as he said, he couldn't do too much or it would be even shorter and take longer to grow out to where I want it - but I'm very pleased with what he's managed to do. It's much more even, smoother and altogether more professional than before. (To be honest, he did say that the original cut wasn't altogether a bad one, it was just far too short at the sides and too long at the top. Fair enough, but it absolutely wasn't what I wanted!) Sorry about the photo quality, it was taken in artificial light, which, while being more flattering to me, gives everything an orange hue.

I shall go back in a couple of months for another cut, and see how it progresses.

Then it was tanking down to Sainsbug's, back to unpack and have lunch, then over to Tesco for a new phone for Kai - PAYG of course, dead snazzy, touch screen keypad (if that's what they're called) with all sorts of functions, at a good price (we agreed to put £25 to it and if he wanted anything more expensive he'd have to add it himself, which he was happy with). There was £10 off the full price if you also bought a ten quid top-up, and as it happened I had one of their vouchers for 200 extra reward points if you bought a £15 top up for the phone, so everyone was happy. He's going to have fun customising it over the weekend (and I must remember to put the number on all our phones...)

Odd ad of the day: Samsung Galaxy SII. Who the hell keeps a chicken in a library and why would anyone trust them with books?

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A bit of a catch-up...

Kai now has just three GCSEs left to do: this week he's had the ones he was most worried about (History and Chemistry). The chem went fine - he was quite surprised at how un-hard he found it - but the history... [growl] You may know the exam situation over here has been a bit of a mess for the last few years, perhaps more noticeable to me this year because Kai's in it. The History paper was on a subject that they hadn't studied - in fact, it wasn't even in their course books...

The teachers weren't very pleased either. Will let you know what happens.

In the garden: the honeysuckle in the rockery has flowered profusely this year and the lower part of the garden is full of its fragrance - gorgeous. The wild native strawberries have never been so prolific (they smell wonderful when it's sunny, too) and we're eating home grown mange-tout, carrots (beautifully sweet) and Swiss chard with appropriate dinners (i.e. not spagbol or fajitas!)

In the house: I've finally, today, racked and stopped the dandelion wine (and the generic red) ready for fining tomorrow, but had to ditch the sake, it really wasn't up to standard. And I've decided to repaint the feature wall in our bedroom - found the most gorgeous, intense matt shade of deep teal. It'll only take a day, but it would be helpful if it was a warm sunny day, and they've been in short supply recently. Photos as usual once it's done.

Lutra and I have been discussing revisiting the Leander Pryne stories as light relief from more important work. Not sure if I've said much about them before - it's been years since I've written anything - but what we've done so far is not 'alf bad, it would be nice to see a coherent whole. As a taster here's the first page of the intro (I've just checked, I have posted this before, back in Feb 2005, but that's almost unreadable since I changed the blog's format - not to mention so long ago old readers will probably have forgotten it and new ones most likely not gone back that far - so here's a more accessible version!)

A Study in Bronze

There was always something slightly sinister about his uncle Leander's study, Jeremy thought to himself as he sipped his tea. Something dark.
     The fact that it felt like a room out of a Victorian melodrama might have had something to do with it.
     "Digestive biscuit?"
     "Yeah, ta... I mean, thank you." He took one from the proffered china plate, dunking it in his cup as usual, only to quail under his uncle's gaze. Not that Leander Pryne had a particularly malevolent or threatening gaze - but there was something intense about his mother's brother that always made him distinctly uneasy. Jeremy quickly pulled the dripping biscuit from the cup and managed to get it into his mouth before the soggy half tore off and landed in his lap.
     "How is Cassandra?"
     Jeremy swallowed hastily and managed not to choke.
     "Mum's fine, thanks."
     "And Christopher?"
     "Dad too. And Diane's fine as well."
     "Good, good..." Leander's voice died away. After a minute or two of stillness Jeremy shifted awkwardly in his seat, swearing silently: his uncle always had this effect on him, making him feel like a little boy caught doing something naughty. He coughed quietly, and Leander's attention returned to him.
     "What was it you wanted to see me about, Jeremy?"
     "Mum wondered... Mum would like... Will you come to Sunday dinner, Uncle Leander? Uncle Bob's coming home from Africa and mum'd like us all to be there to welcome him back."
     Leander pensively stroked a long thin finger down his pale face. Robert was Christopher's brother, a large, brash, loud man in his mid fifties who'd made his money by, if not exactly illegal, then certainly insalubrious means. Leander always found himself wanting to beat the man soundly about the head with a heavy stick after only a few minutes in his company, and his sister knew it: she had sent Jeremy with the invitation knowing full well it would be declined, but not wishing to wound her husband. A sentiment of which Leander heartily approved, for Christopher was a very gentle man, loving and attentive and supportive, an excellent mate for the sensitive Cassandra.
     Luckily on this occasion he had a legitimate reason for crying off. He shook his head.
     "I regret that I will be unable to be present. I have business to attend to at the weekend."
     Jeremy visibly perked up. He knew Uncle Leander was rich - though not how rich - but he had no idea of what he actually did. Asking his mother was no use, she was charmingly vague at the best of times, and when it came to questions she didn't want to answer her obfuscations were the verbal equivalent of a labyrinth. Jeremy had learned as a child to ask his father if he wanted a straight answer about anything. Unfortunately, dad didn't know how Leander made his living, and had shown no interest in finding out.
     "Can I tell her what business?"
     Leander smiled. He had a beautiful smile, it lit up his face and crinkled the skin around his large, luminous golden-brown eyes.
     "Tell her I'm working on a case. The Von Manchen case. She might remember it."
     "Von Manchen. Right. I'll remember. How's it going?"
     Leander nearly laughed. As subtlety went, it wasn't a bad attempt from a fifteen year old. He decided to 'loosen up', as his nephew would phrase it - just a little.
     "It is proving - recalcitrant." As good a word as any for a house that simply refused to allow itself to be exorcised of the spirits of those who had committed incest and murder within its walls...

Leander gazed at the screen and unconsciously tapped his fingers against his lips. So far his latest researches had been unsuccessful - time to call for extra help. He adjusted the microphone, keeping his voice low and calm.
     "Danielle? Are you busy, my sweet?"
     The screen fuzzed for a second or two, then an image slowly appeared. Leander smiled.
     "Good evening, my dear. You are looking particularly lovely tonight."
     The delicate figure on the screen waved a graceful hand negligently.
     "Oh Leander. You know flattery won't work."
     He chuckled quietly.
     "But I never flatter, Danielle. You know that."
     Large, improbably blue eyes ringed by dark lashes regarded him intently for a moment, then the gremlin nodded, rich auburn curls caressing her heart-shaped face with the movement.
     "Then I'll accept the compliment in the spirit in which it is offered. How may I help you tonight?"

What do you think? Like to read more? (Some of the chapters will only be available in The (other) Zone, since they involve the usual sex and torture...)

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

(Later edit - photos at bottom of post.)

Back from the hairdresser...

She insists she did what I asked for (I'll see if Kai can take a photo later and put it on here side-by-side with the hair-over-eyes one further down so you can spot the difference), and eventually said she was sorry I wasn't happy with it. Not for how she'd cut it, mind you... I asked to speak to the manager, Bruno, who was finishing up with a customer's hair, so I said I'd wait. In the meantime, she took a look at it, said all it needed was a bit more of a trim (on the wrong side, the side where it's marginally less horrible) and offered to do it for me. Heh. Like I'd trust her to cut it again. So she said I could speak to Bruno, but I'd have to wait, as he was very busy.

At which, he finished his customer's hair - and went straight to his next customer, fully aware I wanted to speak to him. Couldn't even spare me a minute. How's that for customer service?

I walked out, said I'd never go back. I still have an ugly, horrible mess of a haircut, and I'm £24 out of pocket, but being in there was making me feel ill.

I think I should put a note about this on the BCP's Local Amenities database against Casanova's entry. I certainly SHALL be adding comments to all the review sites I can find where Casanova is listed. I'm not just upset now, I'm angry, and you know what they say about angry Wooki... er, Jouleses.

There is another hairdresser on Sandy Park Rd, dead opposite Casanova. It's called Zone - which may or may not be auspicious - and I shall check it out on Thursday.

Later edit. Here you go - pics.

a lot of hair but in the right shape


It took me two years to grow it out to this soft froth of mane, exactly how I wanted it. All I wanted done - and showed her I wanted done - was to prune the long top bit so it brushed back to complete the mane effect (and to tidy up two small heavier clumpy bits at the nape of my neck).


- This is what she's left me with - ugly, uneven, the sides hacked short, the clumps still there and the top bit almost the right length, except now, with the sides butchered, it looks stupid and makes my face look even longer than it really is. And she thinks this is OK.

I am disgusted. I'd be ashamed of it if it was my work.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

acanthus spinosa

My acanthus spinosa has eleven flower heads this year! I thought the awful weather at the end of last year had killed it, but it's come on amazingly. So much so that I ought to try to split it in the autumn.

In fact, things seem to be picking up in the garden. The courgette and marrow plants have doubled in size in the last few days, I'm now picking mange-tout twice a day, and I have two cucumbers developing on the 'burpless' plant (the other, the new-to-me Flamingo variety, is still too small to have flowers yet - it was planted late - but is growing strongly). So fingers crossed...

Ferdinand our resident bat is back, happily hunting bugs every night. Ken thinks he may have brought a friend along, there may have been a smaller bat hunting too. They move too flitty-quick for me to tell.

Odd ad of the day: Peugot 308. How on earth can anyone think that having a white dress sprayed with filthy, oily water from the road thrown up by a car's wheels could possibly be sexy?

Apples, and pink and white foxgloves in the meadow...


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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rain. Lots and lots of rain. It's not here that we need it, it's over in the drought-ridden south east, where the crops are failing. Food prices are already through the roof (nearly doubled on some staples) with the global recession, so what this is going to do I dread to think.

Though that said, it's not that great over here. The cold (and it was cold enough for us to have to put our heating back on today. It's nearly mid-summer, dammit!) and lack of decent sun has slowed everything down: my tomatoes are not doing anything like as well as they should, and I'm now concerned that my sweetcorn may not thrive (though it is specifically bred for indifferent British summers and it's late harvesting, September to October, so it may still be OK...)

Tonight we watched Battle of Los Angeles. Well, when I say we, Ken lasted until quarter to ten, Kai had to go up at ten, and I hung on to the bitter end (except for the five minutes spent stripping the carcase of the roast chicken we had for dinner today), sitting gaping at the screen unable to believe I could be watching something so bad. A truly, truly abysmal film. (Mind you, it's Asylum, so I should have expected the worst...) The 2 out of 10 the IMDb gives it is overrated. Someone there described it as "Right up there with Plan 9 From Outer Space, but not as entertaining" and that just about says it all.

I could do with some of this...

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

X-Men: First Class... Absolutely brilliant. Really, really good. Superb characterisations, extremely good acting (for the most part. Emma Frost left me cold (arf arf!) and Angel was... heh... less than believable. But Banshee was terrific!), and truly excellent backstories. And the bit with Wolverine is hysterical. All together very impressed! Can't wait for the next ones. Our only difficulty is whether we buy the DVD as soon as it's available (because we both want to watch it again, right now) or grit our teeth and wait for a putative Director's Cut.

Our hedgehog seems to prefer peanuts to sultanas... Saw him tonight just as it got dark, trundling along the slabs again and stopping to stuff his little snout with the peanuts. I called for K&K, so now we've all seen him. It's lovely to know he's there.

After dinner Ken suggested a Filmflex (for a break, as he's just done the last spread for the book, based on my research. Reads well). Kai pointed out that... well, what can you possibly follow X-Men 5 with? so we opted for a special offer cheapie, £1.99 for 48 hours - Altitude. Reading the blurb and the reviews we were expecting to sit and laugh it to pieces - but actually and to our surprise it's an intriguing little film with a great ending. The acting is OK, not brilliant but believable, and the plot, while not unique, was very nicely handled. Well worth a look (but not worth paying a lot for).

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Kai home, revising for his history GCSE on Monday. He's more than halfway through his exams now, and says everything's going OK.

Watched Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers last night. And thoroughly enjoyed it! Good chemistry between the main characters (... why is my brain whispering Martell/Dulann slash...?) and a fun, if daft plot. The notion of a young, maverick crew of Rangers is very appealing. I really really wish the series had been made, it could have been great.

... think I'll have to go back to the hairdresser to complain. It's not like I have a lot going for me, but I've always loved my hair. Now I just want to cry every time I look in the mirror.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Back from hairdresser. And I could cry. Despite my showing her exactly what I wanted before we even started, she's ruined it, cut it far, far too short. I hate it. Only good thing is that at least it grows quickly: three months and it'll be back to where I want it again.



Tuesday, June 07, 2011

[grump] Remind me not to ever mention 'day off' ever again... BCP/Neighbourhood Partnerships meeting at 12.30 and by the time I'd also dived into the butcher and done a Sainsbug shop it was gone three, and I didn't finish the first bit of the work the meeting generated until well gone 11. Going to take a good few hours tomorrow to get the rest done. And I still have to get the synopsis for a possible book proposal written fairly urgently, as well. It's all go...

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Monday, June 06, 2011

'OORAY!! My contribution to the new book is now done. Well, except for revisions/additions/corrections, but we expect that...

Can have a day off now.

need haircut...

... um... I think I need a haircut...

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Sunday, June 05, 2011

... why are Sundays always so maniacally busy?



Saturday, June 04, 2011

So there I was, standing at the landing window, wondering if I'd ever see our prickly little friend, when suddenly, hedgehog!

He trundled out of the meadow, scampered along the 'railway platform' slabs, then went back into the meadow. A good sized adult, very lively and obviously on the hunt for his breakfast. Happy now!

Busy day again - shopping, a little gardening (planted hyssop and garlic chives in the new herb bed), research and the second ep of Charlie Jade this evening. How can a series with such a fascinating premise be so mind-numbingly dull? It keeps sending me to sleep...

Tired again. Hoping for an early(ish) night.

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Friday, June 03, 2011

alien craft?

We aren't at all sure what plane this is but it must be something pretty big!

Hottest day of the year so far. I'd promised Kai a day out if he got enough revision done, so today we went to Severn Beach...

This time we walked down the estuary, towards Avonmouth, instead of the other direction. It's a bit of a hike, but there's always a breeze, and it's never crowded there.

Avonmouth wind turbines

The wind turbines at Avonmouth (a.k.a. "The whirling blades of destiny" - Kai). I think they're beautiful. The two giraffes to the left are massive cranes! There are two more turbines on the Wales side that you can just make out across the river (no photo I'm afraid, they were just that little bit too far away).

So we had a lovely, if exhausting, day - until we got back to the station to find the 13.54 train had been cancelled. We were not impressed: there's only a train every two hours and BR weren't prepared to do anything to help (like provide a bus for us - us being the 18 people, half of them kids, waiting for the train). Maybe this is British Rail's latest thing, leave your paying customers stranded...

With a two hour wait for the 15.54 we used up some of the time on a walk the other way, up to the new suspension bridge (worked out we walked about four and half miles in total, which isn't much - I was sure it was further, although, given how hot it was, a walk to the end of the road would have felt like a marathon today...) and ended up sitting on a bench for a bit to rest the legs. That, unfortunately, was a mistake: I now have a most unpleasantly-sunburned face (and Kai's neck is a bit sore too). Aloe gel is helping, but it's still burning. (I didn't take lotion with us as we only planned to be there for two hours.) And then on the way back the train kept stopping (half hour journey took nearly an hour), so of course we then hit the rush-hour traffic on the bus.


Still, it was all good training for the trip to the Eden Project, which we're hoping to manage over the summer holidays.

Photo below is from about three quarters of the way along the path we took, looking back to Severn Beach village. We're about a mile away from the new bridge at this point.

The bridges from the Severn Way

Quieter and more relaxing day planned for tomorrow.

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Another busy day. Kai revising, but took time off to dig an offshoot to the veg bed for some herbs (the turves have gone up to the slope upon which sits the bench) - now have a small sage, some flat-leaved parsley and a tiny thyme (the rosemary bush is down by the greenhouse). Will get some garlic chives on the go on Saturday and see if I do better with them than with ordinary chives...

The SyFy channel is re-showing A Town Called Eureka (we missed it the first time around). It's rollicking good fun so far, although the timing is a little awkward - 7 - 8 pm, every day at the moment.

The woodpigeons were a huge disappointment. Mine tasted most peculiar - more like fish than game - and Ken didn't like his either. Kai ate his, but won't fret if he never has another. And when I cut the bramley apple and walnut loaf, it had dried fruit in it, so I couldn't eat that either (Kai didn't like it). But you don't know 'til you try... The belly pork with Thai rice that we had tonight was delicious, though.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

So off we tanked to Bedminster...

Kai managed to leave his acoustic guitar on the school bus last Thursday, but luckily one of his friends grabbed it and has kept it safely at his home for us. Since today was the day for picking up my painting from the Grant Bradley Gallery, and since the D sprog lives not far from there, we combined the trip and collected the guitar first. Then after the Gallery it was back into town for St Nick's Wednesday open market (where I managed to spend far too much: we're having roast woodpigeon tonight, probably with some of the bramley apple and walnut loaf, then spelt sesame cookies - which are absolutely delicious. Tomorrow will be honey-mustard glazed roast belly pork with Thai rice...) One of the stalls was selling unusual herbs, so I now have a chocolate mint plant. Yes, really. It smells of After Eight...

Tired now. But only two more spreads to research and the first draft of the book will be finished - a month before the deadline!

On Skype, a couple of days ago...

Lutra - Hey, guess what? I need a hearing aid [rolls eyes]
Joules - Erk. That bad?
Apparently. Just in one ear.
[sigh] And they can't do anything?
Won't know until I get it checked out. Which won't be until next year... in the meantime, I get a hearing aid and see what happens. That won't happen overnight though
[nods] Nice inconspicuous one I assume.
Oh bugger inconspicuous, I say! Bring on teh bling! [smirk]
[blink] Uh, wut?
I plan on rhinestoning my thingy, at the very least :)
.... riiiiiiight..... I'll want photos.
LOL! Of course...

Since I'm catching up... forgot to say but I invested in a large stainless steel stock-pot from Tesco a few weeks back: used it for the first time yesterday to make chicken stock with the chicken carcass from Monday's dinner. Eight substantial portions of stock, and it smells great! (Even Kai commented he liked the smell...)


my Oikawa painting

Beautiful. You probably can't see it in this photo, but there are tiny white specks on the blue bottle top and down the right hand side of the vase. She's used sparkly paint for these parts, but it only really shows when the light hits the painting the right way - so pretty! It's now sitting above my monitor: will take a photo later, when the light is on.

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