Monday, 30 July 2007

Birthday fun

So I'm now 43 and it's been such fun, starting with my unofficial birthday yesterday because it was Sunday and Mr A had the day off. We assembled my new trampoline, watched 'From Russia With Love', and Lola II turned up.

Today was my real birthday, and while Mr A was working hard, the two Lolas were mucking about in Leamington, including lunch at the Saxon Mill and 'Hairspray' (another strong recommendation, especially the bit with the whoopee cushions).

Birthday cards have been interesting this year. One was from the Admissions team at Coventry University, my reserve choice for the dietetics course, so that was a little odd. Mr A gave me a nice card that was exactly the same as one I had previously bought for such occasions. What a coincidence! except that he'd forgotten to get a card so it actually was the one I'd previously bought. The Perry's card was hilariously tasteless (thanks all the same) but the prize goes to Lola II:

A photograph of two old ladies with headscarves, dressed in shapeless clothes, thick stockings and unfashionable shoes, one carrying a plastic bag and the other a walking stick. Captioned: A sister is, as it were, a second self.

I'm the one on the right (obviously).

Sunday, 29 July 2007

What I'm reading at the moment

Image of book cover
Teleportation: The Impossible Leap
by David Darling

"No longer the stuff of science fiction, teleportation has become a reality. Though the current state of this cutting-edge science can transport only such light fare as sub-atomic particles, it is simply a matter of time before larger atoms, molecules, and eventually living things take the ultimate thrill ride."
I love quantum mechanics. I can actually feel my brain stretching.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Some of what happened in July

After the exams at the end of June, I spent July getting out and about around the country to see people. Thanks to Bruce and Jane, Lisa and Mags, Hugh and Bernadette, Helen and Gail, Vajrapriya and Vajradevi, Michael, Jim and Jane, Steve and Sian, Lola II, mum and dad, Kate and Richard, Mark and Nick, and Julian and Carole for putting up with me in the last month! It was really good to catch up with everyone.

To start July off, Mr A and I went to a 50th birthday party held in an amazing converted water tower in Surrey. Not being party animals, we excused ourselved early and stayed with Bruce and Jane, where I saw the most over-engineered steam iron in the world, the Devlin collection of well-ordered bicycles, and a lot of rain - the theme for July, I'm sure you'll agree

Car stuck in mudNext I went to the Royal Show, the national agricultural exhibition held at Stoneleigh Park up the road from Leamington. If you listen to the Archers, you will have heard that Adam, Alice, Oliver, Ruth and David went to the show. What they didn't mention on the Archers was the torrential rain, which didn't dampen spirits so much in the show itself, although I felt sorry for the horseriders who had to carry on splashing about brightly in their posh jackets while getting soaked to the skin. The main problem was the car parks, which developed into mudbaths and needed tractors to ferry people across the small rivers flowing through the fields between the show and their cars. We all had to be towed out by tractor (backwards in my case). It was worth going though - highlights were Peter Purvis introducing the dog agility, the falconry (I always go to see the falconry), and pigs winning prizes. Lucky I didn't wait until the last day to attend - they had to cancel the whole show because of the state of the car parks.

Mr A went off to Belgium for a few days to cycle round the WW1 battlefields around Ypres with Tony, leaving me to play badminton, contribute to a nearly winning team at the pub quiz, go to see 'Grow Your Own' at Warwick Arts Centre (good film, I recommend it), go to the optician (my corrected sight is better than the average person), and sort out some of the garden in between downpours.

Vajrapriya and Vajradevi sitting on a sculpture that looks like a seat but is an open bookThen it was time to sally forth into the wilds of Cambridgeshire, where I had a great time picnicking, examining Art in Jesus College, listening to live music in the park, and watching the Race for Life - well done Jane and Laura (I paid for my enthusiasm when Laura extracted sponsorship money from me). I do believe that it didn't rain all that much for the whole weekend.

As I left Cambridge and pootled along the A14 towards Peterborough there was a huge Bang from the passenger side of the car, and the window descended a few inches, followed by a second loug Bang when it disappeared entirely into the door cavity. Much debate took place through the evening including with Mr A and John (our specialist car glass friend) but there seemed nothing sensible could be done other than tape over the hole and park somewhere safe. This threatened to upset my travel plans - there's no way I'd be going to Manchester with a missing car window!

Luckily I managed to find a garage in Leamington that could fix the window in time, and I was all set for the northern leg of my trip. As well as a lovely evening with Lisa and Mags, I managed to fit in a visit to the Wildlife Photography exhibition at the Manchester Museum and a brief look at the stuffed animals, where I learned such facts as that no bird has more than four toes, the ostrich only has two, some birds have a toe facing backwards, and the swift has four toes of which two can face forwards or backwards at will. Not useful, but interesting. Then I met Hugh and Bernadette and we 'wandered' around Altricham, if you can call it wandering with Hugh pushing the wheelchair up inclines of one in three. Worth it for the fresh orange juice, though.

The next day was miserable; it didn't stop raining all morning so we were confined to Bernadette's room except when we were displaced into the corridor by the cleaners. I watched Bargain Hunt for the first time - it's a fairly entertaining concept, I admit - and then after lunch it was off up the M6 in the pouring rain to Carlisle. Gail and Helen with dogsThe evening's entertainment was provided in part by Helen and Gail's neighbours' mouse, which was addressed with conflicting messages: "Don't eat the poison!" (It succumbed the next day). Walking the dogs, eating, visiting more friends and Team America on DVD made for a good time, while basking in the attention of Harvey, my boxer boyfriend.

After a short accountancy lesson in Whaley Bridge I was set to do a day on Mr A's accounts before the next expedition, in a southerly direction this time. Lola II and I took our nephew David out to dinner and then a comedy gig as part of the Ealing festival, for his 18th birthday. I love Marcus Brigstocke - it partly made up for the time I'd bought tickets for his show at Warwick Arts Centre and then totally forgot to go. The next day dad and I went to the Wellcome Collection and the British museum, separated by lunch with Kate and Richard, before Lola II joined us for Harry Potter in the evening. A misjudgement the next day meant that I only had time for lunch with Marcus at the Horniman Museum followed by about 15 minutes in the galleries before having to rush back to Ealing for a massage. Mum and dad were able to see a bit more of the museum but then had a nightmare journey back home because of the rain and flooding in London.

On Saturday Daphne and the two Vajra's joined Lola II and me for some Blues in the park, again part of the Ealing festival. Luckily we were early enough to set up camp inside the main stage marquee, because the rain outside was torrential. The music was very fine, although Paul Jones didn't do as much upbeat stuff as I'd have liked. Jeremiah Marques and The Blue Aces was certainly upbeat enough for Daphne, who danced until she was as pink as can be. Far too early on Sunday I was on my way to Bournemouth, where Mr A met me, and we joined the party that had been celebrating Julian's 60th birthday (despite his pneumonia). Some of them had already set off for a three-hour coast walk, and we'd arranged to meet them at the end. Two hours later than scheduled and having had no lunch, they eventually phoned us, so we all headed off to a slap-up feed at a pub overlooking Corfe Castle and the Purbecks.

So the last July event was going to be the Acoustic Festival of Britain, taking place in Nantwich this coming weekend, but I was emailed yesterday to say it was cancelled because of the waterlogged conditions. We were really looking forward to it, and I was feeling smug about not going to the Cambridge Folk Festival now that it's got so crowded and tickets being so difficult to get hold of - but Cambridge is still going ahead... Not so smug now.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Some history

I'm a month late starting this blog - I wanted to get going in June but didn't get round to it. So there's some back story to add:-

17 June 07

Well, I've been unemployed for a week now, but it doesn't feel like it yet. Lots of revision for the exams next week, although I managed to do some of it outside in the garden until the rain came. Quite impressive rain - the local news said that some Leamington houses had been flooded, but not ours unless you count the way the shower drain backs up when a month's rain falls in a day. After the exams I'll be able to get out and look under the drain cover...

"After the exams" is a bit of a recurring theme. The kitchen light bulb that blew about two months ago is still there, and a million other jobs are waiting to be done. Including unpacking the bags of stuff that I brought home from work - what on earth shall I do with my Karting trophy, for example? I don’t have space for a little museum like I had on my desk in Birmingham...

We've tried to change to a more local way of buying food, which has helped me to get away from my desk and out of the house to the greengrocer a few times last week. This weekend was the Leamington Peace Festival, an annual event with all sorts of stalls offering tie-dye hippy clothing, different kinds of meditation, interesting 'herbs' and smoking apparatus, jewellery, minority religions, things made out of wood and conservation organisations, all accompanied by live music. All for free. Saturday was a bit wet but I wandered over there today, and even bought a hat. See, I can do shopping!

So next week I've got these exams on Tuesday and Friday, and then I'll be able to see what it really feels like to be unemployed. I'm looking forward to playing badminton again at last, hoping to have a few games of tennis, and I've already planned a few trips around the country, so I expect I'll be able to fit in a trip to Café Soya some time soon. Looking forward to it already!

Biology Fact of the Day: The human heart muscle contracts around two and a half billion times during a lifetime.

Lola Fact of the Day: I'm still wearing my new hat.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

First post

Welcome to Lola Life, the blog of a forty-something ex-professional human being. I have only a vague idea of what may find its way into these pages, and how long before the novelty wears off. Until then, enjoy!