Friday, 31 August 2007

What I'm reading at the moment

Image of book cover
Royal Leamington Spa: Images from the past
by W G Gibbons
The Domesday Book (1086) records details of "Lamintone" and from 1166 to 1539 it was owned by the Priors of Kenilworth during which time its title became Leamington Priors. Over the centuries there was little growth; in 1663 there were but 46 dwellings while in 1800 there were still possibly no more than 50 (when the population was about 300) ... By 1830 there were 1100 houses in 111 streets and the population was about 6,000.
I've been meaning to read this since we moved to Leamington.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

What I'm reading at the moment

Image of book cover
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by J K Rowling

I'm half way through the book already, so it shouldn't be long before all is revealed - and, dad, I don't think it was John Prescott what done it...

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

What I'm reading at the moment

Image of book cover
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J K Rowling

The one with Snape teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts and with the terrible thing happening to Dumbledore. I'm just catching up with the story so far before starting the new one (thanks for the loan, Lola).

Monday, 27 August 2007

Paragliding in Shropshire

Mr A's birthday present this year was a one-day paragliding course. We met the group on the Shrewsbury bypass and headed off to the Long Mynd hills, and set up camp on the 'nursery slopes' there. In the morning there were two other first-time learners, but some more joined in the afternoon who had already done half a day on Saturday, but couldn't finish that day because of too much wind.

It was cloudy and fairly breezy in the morning, and speaking as a spectator I got too hot in the sun and then too cold when a cloud came over in the morning, although the afternoon was better. The participants were far too busy to notice - after learning to fall over safely they had to check over the equipment and by lunchtime were strapping themselves into the harness for a first try at inflating the wing.
Introductory talk Getting into the harness Some tips from the instructor The wing inflates First steps Andy is airborne

The wind got too strong and changed direction at lunchtime, so we moved to a different field, where things got really busy. By the end of the afternoon, Mr A had done several 'hops' and on a few of them he was airborne for a good while. Now we have to deal with the consequences - an aching back, bruises from the harness, and an inclination to follow up with more lessons!

Friday, 24 August 2007

A day at the zoo and lunch with RNIB

Me in front of a sign saying 'I am a monkey'I'm getting a bit behind now - on Tuesday, in honour of Ali's birthday, I was invited to accompany her to Twycross Zoo, together with her mum and friend Amy with boys Harry and Sam. The zoo specialises in primates, so we saw many gibbons, chimps, lemurs and monkeys, and the orangutans were particularly lively. Lots of other animals to wonder at, although Harry was a bit too young to appreciate them, and Sam was much more interested in the tractors, diggers and lawnmowers. Ali's mum told us that she liked the kangaroos best - before remembering that there weren't any and she meant to say giraffes. The day ended with fish and chips and an ignominious performance in the pub quiz (relative to our usual high standard, anyway).

Me in front of a sign saying 'Who are you calling a monkey'Can you believe that I've only just worked out how to add Alt tags to the images in this blog? And it's not even difficult? Shows how far I've slipped since leaving work. On Thursday I went to Birmingham for lunch with the RNIB crowd, who unexpectedly presented me with a card to congratulate me for the A level results. I'm surprised that my head fitted through the doorways after that. Lunch at the delicious Café Soya was splendid, but RNIB is sadly deficient in juicy gossip, or perhaps everyone is just too discreet. Minty is building a Techshare empire with more staff than the rest of the section put together - so this is how my salary is being spent. Sally had some good news about how RNIB is buying software now, and from the sound of it, she is much more diplomatic than I ever could be. With some additional staffing I'm sure she will take all those achievements outside RNIB, and change the world, just like I wanted to before I decided to change direction.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Dead, Alive, Not Very Well

My camera: previously Not Very Well, now Dead. Happy without a memory card, won't turn on with a memory card. Pants.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Time with my mum

It's been a busy couple of days while mum has been visiting - I think I wore her out. Perhaps it was the trampolining... she certainly didn't like it that much. It was nice to have an hour or two sitting on the sofa before she left!

After she arrived we had lunch, then I dragged her around Leamington doing odd jobs - dropping off my saxophone so it can be valued before I sell it, a bit of food shopping, buying products to descale the toilet. Mum was looking for some special spectacle frames for dad - there are two sets of lenses in the frame, one in front of the other, and the front set is hinged so it lifts up. He's had this type for ages, but it looks like it can't be replaced, because none of the opticians have ever seen anything like it.

We went on the regular guided tour around Leamington that happens four or five times a week in the evening during the summer. John the guide was pretty good, and although I've been on the tour before there were still some new bits - he pointed out how the parish church was extended, which made sense of some of the old pictures I've seen.

On Tuesday mum thought it was Sunday, which explains why she was confused when Mr A was rushing around getting ready to go to a meeting at 9 o'clock. We drove off to the Student Finance office in Warwick so that I could prove who I am in exchange for the faint chance of funding, then dropped into Currys on the way home to look at all the different sorts of cordless phones, and then walked to a lighting shop in the hope that I would find something I like for my room. Then it was lunchtime, and then we had that cup of tea and a sit-down. The rest of the family would never have forgiven me if mum had died of exhaustion.

It was a lovely visit, and I'm hoping we'll do it again soon.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

What I'm reading at the moment

Image of book cover
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic
by Stephen R. Covey
"Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character and produce our effectiveness... or ineffectiveness."
I was given this book at least 15 years ago and it's been in the pile waiting to be read ever since.

Friday, 17 August 2007

A level result

I keep hanging on thinking I won't update the blog until my A level result arrives by post, as I didn't bother going into Solihull to collect the result in person. Our postman is an interesting character, and often doesn't arrive until after lunch. But eventually the letter turned up, and I got an A, together with notification that my place at Nottingham has been confirmed. I also got a letter from the examining board (AQA) saying that I scored one of the top five marks of the 1572 candidates that took the course. Nice!

The decriminalisation of parking in Leamington has started, meaning that there's been an epidemic of road re-surfacing, pavement repair, line painting, new signs and pay and display machines sprouting from every street corner. Skip outside our front doorThe day when our road was being painted, everyone obediently moved their car elsewhere, except one of the neighbours who had a skip delivered. The double yellow line outside their house now has a skip-sized gap in front of it. On the orders of the council the skip was then moved from its illegal spot outside the neighbour's house to a legal location, directly outside our front door. And, when they re-surfaced the pavements they obscured all the spray-painted instructions, so the line to indicate our garage access wasn't painted. And our parking permits haven't yet arrived - I've had two attempts so far at filling in the forms and providing the correct documentation...

I've finished the garden for the time being, until the fuchsia stops flowering, and then it will be pruned to within an inch of its life, given that it's in the way all the time and needs to be encouraged to find another direction. Actually, I haven't quite finished because I discovered a tub of lawn feed, but it's quite strict about when you can and can't apply it, depending on timing of mowing and rainfall, and the forecast is for showers all the time at the moment. The other risk is that if all the moss is killed, we'll hardly have a lawn at all.

Monday, 13 August 2007

What I'm reading at the moment

Image of book cover
Inside the Body: Fantastic images from beneath the skin
Pictures supplied by the Science Photo Library

To view the banal parts of a human body - be it tooth enamel, or fat - as you have never seen them before is quite astounding. Moreover, you will come across cells and even areas of the body that you might rather not think about, such as the lining of the rectum, and find they actually look pleasingly a little like strawberries."
More looking at the pictures than reading, but it's fascinating.

Saturday, 11 August 2007


The week has gone quickly, and on reflection there's quite a lot I haven't shared here. Our neighbourly cat feeding duties came to an end, but the English Women's Bowls Championships continues, making the residents of Archery Road and the Victorias feel like landed gentry with gatekeepers keeping the riff-raff out.

Last week Nuala turned up out of the blue, with the exciting news that she's leaving AbilityNet for Newcastle University. So many of the 'old' TC/TO's seem to be heading to the education sector. It was great to chat over a beer and catch up with her.

Jason and Liz have produced Lily Edwards, who looks perfect. As with all other parents so far, they didn't want to try out my newborn experiment - I've heard that the grip reflex is so strong just after birth that you can hang a baby on a washing line. I expect I'll have to wait until I have a baby of my own before finding out whether it's true or not.

Mr A and I had an intense session with Glenn the accountant, after which the books were a lot less messy, but I've spent a whole day trying to correct some of the mis-filed entries on the computer, and there's more to do. The weather has been so glorious this week after all that rain in July that I'm not prepared to spend days on end in the office instead of outside.

The garden is now showing my enthusiasm with large gaps where shrubs used to be, and my arms are scratched to pieces from the roses that have been my latest target. There's not that much more to do: a fuchsia and another shrub that is still flowering will have to wait, and the remaining long shoots on the rose bush need threading through the trellis, and that's about it unless I choose to tackle the wisteria. But we really like the wisteria, so I'm tempted to let it have it's own way and take over the whole garden if it wants to.

I had a little trip to IKEA too - what an interesting place that is. It's the little bits and pieces that they put in bins around the place that are so tempting - I picked up a couple of vases for flowers and nearly bought new doormats for the back door when the main intention was to get more shelving for future student books in my room. And to report on the state of shoe racks for Lola II. There turned out to be a whole shoe rack department! Who'd have thought? Now I face the significant task of attaching a rather heavy cupboard to the wall in such a way that it is level and doesn't fall down. Ever.

Richard has had laser eye surgery! We had a beer yesterday in the garden, him sitting in his cool sunglasses. I can't believe he did it. Why would anyone mess with their eyes for cosmetic reasons? Especially as glasses are so light compared to 1969 when I got my first pair... They weighed almost as much as I did back then and now I can hardly tell I'm wearing them.

In between all this accountancy and gardening I've been playing with Facebook. To start with I didn't understand what it was for, but now I go back time after time!

Monday, 6 August 2007

Taming the jungle

The garden is taking a pounding this year, but I'm determined to hack down all the overgrown shrubs so that we can see the ones we like again. Last week I made a determined attack on the Berberis (2cm spikes) and trimmed the rose a bit; yesterday it was the turn of the Ceanothus and a ton of mud from the gutter at the same time. Today I plan to take on the Forsythia, which has taken over about thirty square feet of garden that it would be nice to see again.

By the way, all these plant names may or may not be correct - people who know such things have wandered by and dropped names at me that I think I've remembered correctly. If my camera weren't broken I'd take pictures, but it seems to be chewing up the memory cards at the moment.

Apart from the garden, my huge list of summer tasks is starting to show signs that I've been getting things done. The tax return is filed and I even managed to complete the soul-destroying 16-page application form for the NHS Bursary I hope to get for the duration of the course. I do hope they are satisfied with all the proof I submitted - passport to show I exist, tax forms to show I have supported myself for the last 72 months, other tax forms to show I won't be able to support myself for the next 72 months, Mr A's tax forms to show he can't support me either, even our marriage certificate to show... that I haven't invented him? Not sure why they need to see that.

Today's jobs include replacing the rope on the laundry airer pulley as well as waging war on Forsythia, so I'd better get on with that now.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Summertime, and the living is easy

So Mr A and I were sitting in the garden at the end of the day yesterday, drinking tea and coffee in the sunshine, and looking at the house and the garden thinking how lucky we are to live here. The English Women's Bowling competition is on at the bowling club, it hasn't rained for three days, the garden's showing the effect of my hacking things down and we aren't yet insolvent. So that's good.