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!
Saturday, June 30, 2018
A day (well, a few hours at least) to myself! K&K have gone to Goblin Combe, to take a day out in the summer air without burning in this abominable heatwave thing we seem to be suffering. Honestly, a week and a half of 26 - 29 degree heat. I'm melting. And sleeping is almost impossible - especially when you're woken up at 4 am by caterwauling right outside the wide-open-because-HOT bedroom window. Well, obviously not right outside, the local cats haven't quite learned to levitate yet. But give it time, give it time...
So let's try a catch up.
First up, Kai passed all his exams, well enough, we think, that he can go on to take his M.Eng. Big relief.
The Summer Solstice came and went but we didn't do anything much. Hope everyone had a happy day anyway!
Decorating: the hall is half finished (took me three coats of gloss to cover the hall cupboard door, dammit, and I've yet to tackle the radiator, which means stripping off the old gloss first...) Problem is, I can't hold a paintbrush for more than about 10 minutes before the carpel tunnel starts making my hand go numb, and then it takes another fifteen minutes for me to exercise feeling back into it, so everything is slowed down to a snail's pace. Bloody frustrating. But I should have it all done by Yule - hopefully including the kitchen, which I'm dreading.
Garden: having to use hosepipe to water the fruit and veg - main waterbutt now only half full so I'm using that water for the greenhouse. Extra work, but it's quite fun. Everything is doing well in the beds - we're already eating fresh-picked mini munch cucumbers, blueberries, mange tout, sugarsnap peas and dwarf beans, which is all going down very nicely. And it looks like I'm going to have a wonderful plum harvest this year. Thursday afternoon Kai and I spent a bit of time cutting down and chopping the old (dead) ivy tree - I have a compost bag collection Tuesday so it can all go out then. Still have the 'trunk' to tackle (it's just a lattice of branches around what was a tree trunk before it rotted away) but some of them are quite thick: will need Ken or Kai to cut them.
Watching: Definitely, Maybe, which is a delight. Touch season 2, which is, as expected, a bit disappointing after the excellent season 1. GoodTwin found me Millennium (complete, all three seasons, 18 discs...) which I remember loving when we first saw it (ye gods, was that really 27 years ago? Ouch...) We've saving that for the autumn, I want to watch Starhunter next. I've also picked up Soylent Green and The Handmaid's Tale (the original film, not the current series, although I am considering getting the latter...) Both s-f classics at silly prices at Sains: seemed like a good idea at the time. And La La Land was half price at Tesco yesterday: picked it up to watch tomorrow afternoon, after Kai's venesection.
Swimming: 36 lengths once a week is now my norm - though limping home afterwards in this heat is no fun. Still, it's all downhill I suppose.
Criminal Damage/Harassment: had a phone call from the police on Monday evening, apologising for taking so long to get back to me. The case has been handed to the senior officer for this area, who is on leave atm, "because of who he [Wilson] is". Not entirely sure what that means, although we know he's used his 'position' as ex-police to bully and abuse other people too. Hope they aren't too long though, it's stressful going into the greenhouse every day and seeing the horrible mess he's made of the glass.
Last Friday: Lesson went very well indeed, even the infamous Hick's Gate roundabout - the cause of so many local learners failing their first test - twice. The second time from the Bath side, where there are currently no road markings... GoodTwin and Adrian arrived soon after I got back. After toasted sammijes for lunch we headed off to Bedminster on a car hunt. Checked out Tiley and Motorzone, sat in quite a lot of cars (and were able to dismiss ones that simply weren't comfy for both Kai and I) and came away with a shortlist of models we liked - Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Alto, Nissan Note and the Skoda Roomster, although I don't think we'll be going for that one, despite all the room. Have checked out insurance too, and our cheapest is with Aviva (where our pensions are) so will probably go for that (half the price of the next cheapest at confused.com). So it's all coming together, although we still need to go back and test drive a car or two. The ones we've seen so far have only been between 1 and 1.3 litre engines, and I think we need a 1.4 at least.
Oh, that reminds me! Finally found out what I've been taking refresher lessons in - a Renault Clio 1.5. Very nice car - may see if we can find one second hand...
And so to yesterday's lesson...
I asked if we could go tackle the Cumberland Basin, which is a confusing interchange down where Bedminster and the New Cut meets the River Avon.
Stitched together from google maps - hope it's clear enough!
Traffic moves pretty fast here, and unless you know exactly where you're going it's very easy to take the wrong lane/exit. I've only ever been on it as a passenger, but it's the main route out of the city for half the places we want to get to, without going through the city centre, so I do need to learn it.
So off we set. Nice driver let me turn out of the crossroads at the top of our road into the Bath Rd. Traffic was crawling along by Totterdown Bridge and the Fingerpost: one lane of the roundabout over the first bridge was closed but that was OK: easy run along Coronation Rd, past the Riverside garden Centre: and then...
We got lost. Four times. Instructor didn't know the area either!
First we missed the Long Ashton turning, and ended up going around the turning near Barrow Gurney, back up on the dual carriageway, then over the basin and up along the Portway. To turn around to go back and try again he had me drive up the insanely steep and bendy road up the side of the Gorge, out through Clifton, and then around the horrible junction where Whiteladies Rd meets Clifton Down. Bloody Bristol drivers, no-one would pause for a second to let me out - instructor had to wave at one to get him to be courteous. Then it was back down the gorge road, back across the bridge, around to the right and then... not quite the road I was after but it worked out OK as we ended up heading to Long Ashton. Halfway through the village we turned to retrace our path - by creeping down a country lane so narrow the bushes on either side brushed the car...
My exclamation of "Ah! Pavement! Civilisation!!" when we reached the bottom made him chuckle.
Then it was a hill start on a steep hill at a give way sign on a blind corner - with a large VW van far too close behind me. Didn't quite stall, but the car rolled back, only a couple of inches but it was enough for the driver behind to move smartly back a few feet, which made it a tad less stressful.
So - out of Long Ashton and back to the interchange. Managed the one way nearly circular turn there - then took the wrong exit again, so we ended up going back over the bridge and up the Portway a second time. This time we drove further: it's a 50mph limit along there so I was able to get into 5th gear. (Heh. Never had a fifth gear on the old car and I nearly went into reverse - recovered quickly but I won't be doing that again!).
It's actually a nice stretch of road, along the river, fairly straight, not too much traffic. A bit before Shirehampton I was thirsty, so we turned right at the junction that leads to the Almondsbury Garden Centre, then right again into a residential area and pulled up correctly between driveways and with nothing parked opposite - which was just as well as I'd no sooner opened my coke when a bus came trundling by!
Couple of mins later we headed off again, took a right turn that we found, seconds later, was a dead end. So that was me reversing into someone's drive to turn round and retrace our steps...
Back on the Portway, over the bridge again, and I finally managed to get onto the road I wanted, that leads past the Ashton Gate Football Stadium and through the Bedminster industrial estate, round several mini-roundabouts, up the hill (where the traffic lights turned red before I reached the junction, another fun hill start), down past where Kim Lives - and then I missed the turning into St John's Lane...
[headdesk] So we drove on a few yards and turned left into a tiny narrow street with cars parked both sides and I'd guess about two foot clearance on either side. Oh joy. The idiot stepping out without looking didn't help either. But then it was a right turn back onto familiar territory, navigating past cars pulling out unexpectedly, a school just turning out for lunch, and the Malago Brook junction, which isn't difficult but I was a bit frazzled by then.
And then I missed the turn off to Talbot Hill that I had planned to take, and ended up at the bottom of the Wells Rd instead. More hill starts at traffic lights, more cars parked on the road, and I had to pull into a bus stop to get out of the way of a fire engine racing down the road, all sirens blazing. After that, coming down the other side of Talbot Hill and along to home was a doddle.
That was pretty much every driving situation you can get into in the UK, all packed into 2 hours (well, OK, barring getting stuck behind a tractor for miles, ending up stuck in the middle of a stream, or navigating the city centre), and the instructor was very pleased indeed. Said yes, I really am a good driver, did incredibly well, and am now absolutely fine to be let loose on the roads. (I was from two lessons back but Friday definitively confirmed it.)
And the daft thing is, I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think it was the challenge. We all know I like a challenge. Wonderful boost to the self-confidence too. Now itching to get the car and start taking everyone out.
Which reminds me - must ring Paul the builder and get a quote for the planned drive...
Sunday, June 17, 2018
Quickest of all possible updates: GoodTwin and Adrian are coming over from Winchester next week to take us on the first stage of The Quest for the Car!
It's all getting quite exciting!
[GLOMPS] GoodTwin. Be fantastic to see you again.
Oh, and we watched The Nines, which is just amazing. Wonderful, complex film. My respect for Reynolds' range grows with every film I see.
Friday, June 15, 2018
Tch'. I forgot the other automatic louvre opener. Add another £30 to the greenhouse cost - £910...
Last night we had drilling, hammering and sawing next door until gone midnight, which led to a disturbed night for me. Very tired, stressed and frazzled today, so when my instructor arrived I asked if we could just review everything we'd done so far, in quiet roads, instead of the reverse-parking, hill starts and venturing out onto faster roads we'd planned (and told him why, and what had happened last Fri.) He said of course, that would be fine - then almost inconspicuously guided me into doing what we'd originally planned anyway, the sneaky erbert!
Actually, once I got started, it all went incredibly well. My positioning was really good this week, hill starts (which I always used to be good at) perfect three times in a row on a rather steep hill, and although it took several attempts, my final reverse parking (into a parking bay with a pavement and a tree behind us) was perfect, if I do say so myself. (I find it much easier to perform that manoeuvre if there's an obstacle behind me. I may be the only person in the world to feel this way...) Clutch control is almost as good as it used to be, and I'm confident enough now I'm not bothered by other traffic. All in all a very good lesson, he thinks I'd be fine now to go buy a car and be safe to drive it, and made my week by saying I must have been a very good driver back when I drove before!
And I thoroughly enjoyed it. So that's all good.
Of course I'm now really tired and heading bedwards in a wee while (will let the amitriptyline start working first). We have a relaxed weekend planned: it's Ken's birthday on Sunday, which is also Father's Day this year, and he's taking Mon as annual leave, so has a nice long weekend ahead. Kai should have venesection on Sun, but has gone down with a throat infection and is feeling a bit rough, so I've rescheduled it for the 1st July. Dr told him to double his penicillin meds for 10 days and get back to her if it hasn't eased in a week. He doesn't have a temperature, and Bronchostop and honey and lemon drinks and lozenges seem to be helping, so I'm not too worried. It's annoying for him, but this is, unfortunately, going to keep happening as his immune system is never going to get back to normal. But he's accepted that and is learning to cope. It's all we can do really, and he's not letting it get him down too much...
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Brief edit to the last post. Looked out the receipts to show the police: the greenhouse cost £880 (28/5/16), construction another £1,285 (early Sept 2016), so a total of £2,165. Damn right I'm angry.
Forgot to mention: a month or so ago we watched Black Mirror season 3, which was excellent, with both the nicest - San Junipero - and the nastiest - Shut Up And Dance - episodes so far.
Yesterday's swim was another 36 length (in 50 mins), and felt really good. I think the weekly swim is the only time I'm completely free of pain. Pity about the walk home afterwards, but at least it's all downhill. Last night we watched Self / Less, which is wonderful. A really excellent film - deserves higher than it gets on the IMDb.
Today is business: some book ideas to send to our agent, and for me to finally sort out my pension. Oh joy...
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
[sigh] Perhaps if I say - "don't expect me to have time to write anything for three weeks" I might be able to update more regularly? Like some kind of reverse psychology? The other method ain't working...
Let's see how much I can remember.
Flower spike on the everlasting orchid.
The garden - first peas and mange tout appeared in the raised beds, first sweet and bell peppers in the greenhouse. We've decided on the design for the drive (well, mostly me but Kai loves the idea and Ken is OK with it, so it'll probably happen). Gravel isn't permitted by Bristol City Council, so we're going to go for yellow pebbles instead (six drives along the other half of the road have them, so it looks like it's 1, perfectly acceptable, and 2, there's precedent). Going to plant blue flowers around the edges to give the effect of a beach surrounded by water... We don't have a price for it yet, but it's going to be a little while before we can afford it in any case. I'm planning to have an extra wide entrance: I've had to get Kai into hospital three times in the last couple of years, so want to make sure there's space for an ambulance if needed.
Have some garden pics!
Kai's copse, shady and safe for him to sit out when it's sunny.
Our crow. This one fishes tadpoles out of Roeg's pool for snacks!
Tyjer's new shelter when it rains...
The painting is coming along, but very slowly: I can only hold a paintbrush for about ten minutes before my hand starts going numb (the carpel tunnel has resurfaced with a vengeance. Should probably go see dr and ask for another steroid injection). It's going to be weeks before everything's done, but it is going to look lovely, so that's something.
We're still waiting for the quote to replace the downpipe - actually I'd better email our WeCare person to find out what's happened to it.
We've had the plumber this morning: the ballcock to the extension tank up in the roof had packed up and over the last four days (over the weekend, of course, when no-one's available to come out) Kai's heard running water going out in the guttering. All fixed now - for once it was a nice easy job - but not looking forward to the bill. This summer is turning out to be rather expensive...
Food porn for Lutra - Korean Beef (except it's not really Korean, but it is extremely tasty and is now on the repertoire).
Health: dentist has refilled the problem tooth, but if it gets another infection or starts causing pain, I'm to get there as quickly as I can to have it extracted (she left notes to that effect on my records). I may be lucky - it could go for years with no further problems. On the other hand it could start hurting later today - there's no telling. Keeping fingers crossed for the first option!
Also, happy to report that the amitriptyline is working: the sciatica has all but gone, which is a huge relief. Haven't needed to increase the dose either, one tablet before bed is proving to be enough at the moment.
Media: We've finished watching Touch season 1, and will probably start on season 2 next week. Ken and I have a sneaking suspicion it's not as good as season 1 so we didn't want to spoil 1's enjoyment. Caught Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle on FilmFLex and thoroughly enjoyed it. Dwayne is brilliant, and it's the first film I've seen where I actually like Jack Black. We'll be buying it when it comes down in price - so I picked up the original Jumanji for 49p at St Pete's (for completeness sake). We watched it last week and to my surprise, although I thought I'd seen it before, it was completely new to me. And fun.
I watched Buried by myself. It's very good, but not an easy watch... I found Definitely Maybe in a charity shop in Wells - Kai and I went there last Saturday for a day out. Had a great time - as it looks like I'm now idly collecting Ryan Reynolds films.
The much-touted Bumblebee film is out in Dec. I wasn't too fussed, as he's not a favourite character - but the design looks good, and Starscream is in it, so I will be buying it, and no doubt there'll be an associated Starscream action figure in due course, so that'll be one to look out for.
Swimming - week before last made 24 lengths, and last week 36, which is a full one half of a mile! Quite proud of myself. Of course, this means I now have to try to reach that every week...
Except for this week. I did too much gardening with Kai and can barely move today, dammit. Will this teach me? I hope so!
Driving - the week before's lesson went really well, and last week's even better: we focussed on reversing, parking and manoeuvring. I get the impression he thinks another lesson, maybe two, and I'll be good to go. Kai and I will start scouring Autotrader asap...
Of course, there's always something. After such a great week, I went out to water in the greenhouse, to find that the poisonous, hateful old waste of oxygen next door has sprayed fence paint all over the side and roof, right down to the ground. For no reason. And it has to be deliberate: I had it built a good 7 foot from the fence so he could spray his side without causing any damage. My greenhouse is less than 2 years old and cost me £2,000 in total.
Needless to say I am absolutely furious. Got straight onto the police, reopened my complaint against him, got a crime report case number back, and am now waiting for them to visit. And this time I'm bloody well pressing charges. Gods I loathe him!!