Friday, 29 July 2011

No news is good news

Bright red flower spath
I really need my guest bloggers now, or all you will get is an account of my fairly mundane and predictable 'social' life, and how I clean the house, or repot plants.

There have been no useful jobs to apply for - my current self-imposed restriction of "2 hours travelling time from home" is an enormous area, but jobs advertised at the moment just don't fit - Bradford, Hastings, Leeds, Merthyr Tydfil, Eastbourne. Three weeks on and I still haven't heard about the last interview, although I have now left a message asking them to let me know what's going on.

There are two other newsworthy items to report, however. The first is that I have reached my goal, and I am no longer in the overweight BMI category! Since starting my clinical placement in GNT in February (which was the catalyst for the weight loss), I have lost 10 kg (22 lb), which amounts to some 14% of my original weight.

At some point I'm going to try on the few items of clothing that I retained from my last 'thin' period through sentimentality, and because they were really, really flattering. From my photo album, this appears to have been around 1996, 15 years ago. [It is not a coincidence that this is just before I started going out with Mr A.] It is possible that I'll be able to maintain this meagre eating pattern and thus remain at a BMI of less than 25, and then I really will have to buy some trousers that don't need a belt to keep them up. At present I have one smart pair that I bought during the BDA Conference, and one not so smart, inherited from Lola II's friend.

The other item of news is about the Cricketers, which is being transformed. The previous landlord, Smurf, is back in charge! After having left the pub for the comedy circuit and part-time work in another pub, he has bought the lease and returned with a team of workers who are stripping the woodwork, patching the plaster, and generally re-fitting the place.

I demanded a tour of the ongoing Works, and was delighted to hear (among all the other plans) that the toilets will contain hand driers that actually work - this has not been the case in the 10 years we have been frequenting the establishment. Yesterday I baked a cake for the team, partly because we have benefited from the re-fit (we have been keeping an eye on the skip outside and acquiring useful items for our own use) and partly because I want the whole team to remember who lives next door. The grand opening is tonight, and we'll be there.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Another camping holiday

Crested and long-legged bird of some type
I have been away, with Lola II, camping in Norfolk. But before that, I was with Lola II and Mr M at a comedy gig. And before that, someone came to service our boiler.

The comedy was very good, including great handling of a heckler by Milton Jones, and slapstick from another comedian that I laughed at despite myself (why is a red nose and a false beard funny? I don't know). We set off for Norfolk on Friday, but the route took us within half a mile of mum and dad's house, so by lunchtime we'd only got that far. Eventually we reached the very large campsite, pitched the tent (Mr A's very old tent-with-a-porch that we can cook inside), and went off to the local pub for dinner.

Profile of the head of a craneWhile everywhere else in the country was scorching hot, our weekend was freezing. Lola II thinks it's her fault - every time she goes away, home has great weather while wherever she is ends up cold and/or wet. The first night, it was very windy, the tent flapped like nobody's business, and it rained. Luckily we had pitched the tent properly and stayed dry, then spent the day at a cold and windy nature reserve with mostly ducks. But also red squirrels, except they were taking the sensible option and staying indoors. There was also a Little Owl, which I particularly liked, and a world-leading collection of cranes. It was quite good, but cold.

When we got back to the campsite, we discovered that some of the tent had fallen down in the wind, and a large hole in the side of the porch area had been made by the upturned table. Mr A wasn't too disappointed by the news, and has in fact embraced the need for a new tent, spending a large amount of time researching what we might get, ranging from 30 quid on ebay to 300 quid including an internal wall-mounted storage system. I'm only sorry I didn't make his day by ruining his tent years ago.

Lola II took on cooking duties, and produced turkey stew and rice noodles for supper, and our traditional camp breakfast next morning: noodles with courgettes and prawns. I know, not your usual breakfast, but we like it. It was windy and rained overnight again, but it had stopped by morning and we drove to the coast, and Cromer. Having been lured by the potential of a seaside town, at the pay and display car park we anticipated a visit of many hours, before finding it was really windy, very cold indeed, and not much was going on in Cromer. The town museum didn't open until 1 p.m. and there wasn't much else to do, although we visited the lifeboat museum and then had lunch in a very pleasant cafe looking out over the grey, cold, windswept sea.

Lola and some ducksAfter Cromer we headed off up the coast to Sheringham, the sun nearly came out a couple of times, and we found a bustling little town that would have been much more interesting to visit for longer. As it was, we got 15 minutes looking at a display about offshore wind power and a look out at the sea from the tower before the museum closed and we were out in the cold again and back to the car before the traffic wardens found us.

It was warm enough to sit outside the tent reading the paper for about an hour before I retired inside the tent and Lola II cooked up frankfurter wraps with creme fraiche, sugar-snap peas, olives, and the beans we couldn't open for the stew the night before because I'd neglected to bring a tin opener. That night was still, so at least the tent didn't flap, but I was still wearing a fleece, tracksuit bottoms and thick socks over my pyjamas.

On the bright side, the campsite was fine, and we had a lovely time really. After breakfast and a look around a local town we had a long drive along the coast road before I dropped Lola II off to catch the train at Kings Lynn and drove myself home. I almost got heatstroke on the three hour journey. The weather was beautiful once I'd left Norfolk.

Lola II in field with newspapers

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Camping and bees

Hives in a fenced-off area of field
A double whammy of a weekend, with a camping phase and then an educational phase! First of all was another reunion of the group rallying from Plymouth to Banjul that Mr A took part in more than five years ago. We met down in the Cotswolds where the youngest of the party lives - she was only 19 when she went on the trip, the baby of the group. She is currently living near her parents, who kindly hosted our weekend in their fabulous house with its extensive garden and bijou summer house.

Mr A had a bit of a bad time earlier in the week and managed to get behind with his university work, so he had to go home on Saturday. But we both camped on Friday night, throwing up the tent rather casually, relying on the weather forecast of 'light rain showers'. When we woke up in the morning, there had been a lot more than light rain, it was still raining heavily, and we noticed a certain amount of wetness around the edges of the sleeping bags. Luckily we were pretty much dry and hadn't been woken early, but then we noticed a large water-filled blister in the middle of the roof. Mr A managed to get dressed and out without incident, but of course I brushed against it and the water flooded in.

The option of sleeping in the summer house was available for Saturday night, so I wasn't too worried, and the sleeping bags, mats and tent dried out in the sunshine on Saturday afternoon anyway. After Mr A had gone, we walked along the canal to the pub, then walked back again, had a barbeque and then sat in the summer house, toasty warm from the wood-burning stove, telling stories.

On Sunday I went on to visit Bee Lady and Landrover Man, two of my potential guest bloggers. Instead of producing a blog post themselves, I was given the Bee Experience, so now I have to write the post instead of them. A canny strategy.

Bee fact #1: the honey bee is the only insect that produces a human food.

Sending a puff of smoke into the hiveTogged up in the full beekeeper protective jumpsuit, I followed BL to the hives. We were going to check over two hives, one of which had swarmed three times in the space of a fortnight. This means a queen takes off with her retinue to find somewhere else to live, leaving the hive with whatever of the rest of the colony is left, and needing a new queen, which they rear from special 'queen cells'. Doing this three times has consequences: the remaining colony can be quite small and may not survive the winter, and (more importantly in this case) the beekeeper either needs to find three new hives and all the hardware this entails, or lose the bees and potentially annoy the neighbours when the swarm takes up residence in their chimney.

The first swarm happened when BL was away, and LM had to deal with it - following the swarm, knocking it into a basket ensuring that he got the queen, providing a new hive and tempting the colony into it. If the swarm is very high up a tree, or very dispersed, this can be quite a procedure.

So now, BL was left with more hives than she really wanted, but she thought that the hive left after the three swarms was without a queen. This offered the opportunity to combine this colony with another, thus reducing the number of hives. The surprise came when, on inspection, there were cells containing eggs - and not just eggs, but larvae and sealed cells too. This meant that not only was there a queen, but she'd been there quite a while, and BL hadn't spotted her on previous surveys.

Searching a frame to find the queen beeQuite honestly, it doesn't surprise me a bit. The queen is slightly longer than the worker bees, with different legs. On a frame with many hundreds of bees, possibly thousands, spotting one bee that is slightly longer with different legs underneath it would defeat me every time, although by the end of my Bee Experience I could just about spot the drones, which are quite significantly bigger than the workers and have different eyes.

BL obviously wanted to mark the queen so she would be easier to find, and tried to use a 'crown of thorns' device which was supposed to keep her in one place. The frame was so busy that it was more practical in the end to just follow her around and dab her with a marker when she stopped running. Then replace everything - frames filled with brood, pollen and honey, the 'queen excluder' which keeps the queen in a specific part of the hive, the lid and weatherproofing, all very carefully so as not to annoy the bees. They'd been given a puff or two of smoke before we started disturbing them, and they buzzed around quite a lot, but not so much that I was worried about being stung, and I was wearing a bee-resistant outfit anyway.

Bee fact #2: you can die from the venom of 10 bee stings per pound of body weight, which isn't that many if you're a child, and quite possible as an adult if you're not wearing protection and you annoy a large colony, for example.

The other hive was one of the colonies that had swarmed, and so was quite new and small with not much honey and equipment cobbled together from what BL could find. We were looking for the queen in this one too, and BL found it, but on a rather fragile frame. So she decided to pack it in, and mark the queen another time.

Two things particularly impressed me. One was the sheer depth of knowledge that is needed to look after bees. Of course, bees in the wild pretty much look after themselves, but if you want them to stay healthy in your hives, multiply (but not too much) and produce a decent amount of honey, you need to know quite a lot of things, some of them quite technical. The other is the record keeping - without recording everything you do, how would you remember which hive is which, how recently you checked, what stages the brood was at, whether they have enough honey stored to keep them over the winter, and everything else about them?

I don't think I'm about to take up beekeeping, but it was a very interesting visit and insight into the art and science of apiculture. And as ever, BL produced a very tasty lunch!

Bee Lady

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Random selection

This came through the other day:
Post ref. XX-XXXX-X Graduate Dietitian

Dear Applicant.

Further to your application for the above post, I regret to inform you that unfortunately, on this occasion, you have not been selected for interview.

We have a Random Selection process in place, which we have implemented in this instance due to the very good response to the vacancy which has resulted in a very high number of applicants suitable for interview. Random selection is an approved decision making process which is part of the Recruitment & Selection Procedure and means that your application was one of many which met the shortlisting criteria. In order to produce a manageable interview shortlist, applicant numbers are drawn at random from those that met the initial 'sift'.

The panel would like me to inform you that they were impressed with your application and should the post not be filled successfully we will contact you again to ascertain whether you are still available and interested. I hope the above feedback assists you in understanding why you were not invited to interview on this occasion.

May I take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in the vacancy and wish you success in securing a suitable post soon.

Kind Regards

Recruitment Officer
Nutrition and Dietetic Service
Interesting, eh?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover
A Room With a View
by E. M. Forster

narrated by B. J. Harrison
"A charming young Englishwoman, Lucy Honeychurch, faints into the arms of a fellow Britisher when she witnesses a murder in a Florentine piazza. Back in England, Lucy is courted by a more acceptable, if stifling, suitor, and soon realizes she must make a startling decision that will decide the course of her future: she is forced to choose between convention and passion."
This is another of the free podcasts read by an American who isn't 100% accurate on pronunciation, but I quite enjoy spotting his errors and his narration isn't bad otherwise. And I've read the story several times, and seen the film, so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed by that aspect of the book.

Image of the book cover
Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks: The Essential Alan Coren
edited by Giles Coren and Victoria Coren

"The Queen at a loose end playing I-Spy, QPR fans arguing at the cheese counter, prank phone calls to Mao Tse-Tung, the Roman tax collector Glutinus Sinus dealing with the mud-caked Britons, Gatling guns, an Italian driving school, herons, hearing aids, hosepipe bans, talking parrots... Welcome to the wonderful world of the late, great Alan Coren."
Lola II gave me this, an anthology of the humorist Alan Coren, and some of it is quite funny. Most of it is faintly amusing, there are a couple that are just clever and not very funny at all, and a further few that I don't 'get' because I don't know much about poetry, or Greek, or whatever the subject of the parody or satire is. It's very handy for breakfast or toilet reading, though, like many such compilations of short articles.

Image of the book cover
The Hand That First Held Mine
by Maggie O'Farrell

"Lexie Sinclair, from rural Devon, carves out a life for herself at the heart of bohemian 1950s Soho, with the sophisticated Innes Kent. In the present, Ted and Elina no longer recognise their lives after the arrival of their first child. As Ted's search for answers gathers momentum, so a portrait is revealed of two women separated by fifty years, but linked by their passionate refusal to settle for ordinary lives."
Another one supplied by Lola II. I'm not used to reading fiction in print rather than audio, so I had forgotten my propensity to read too fast, skipping detail in favour of finding out what happens next. This was particularly bad towards the end, when the different threads of the story are drawn together and it got a bit tense and exciting. I liked it, although I did get irritated by the majority of the book being divided into two separate strands, chapter by chapter.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Garden, birds and diet

Wheelbarrow on the lawn next to a flowering border
I've been 'gardening'. You will be aware by this time that 'gardening' is not an activity whereby a 'gardener' carefully nurtures and tends delicate plants, creating a display that is attractive to the eye throughout the year. No, it involves cutting, slashing, lopping and generally creating havoc in the garden before packing tons of 'green waste' into rubble sacks, piling them into the car and taking them down to the dump. So far, we have made four such trips (with approximately ten sacks each time) and there's another lot waiting for a fifth run. And I haven't really started on the wisteria.

I have been aided this year by some new equipment. Mr A bought some long handled loppers that will cut through branches up to about an inch and a half, and thanks to the demise of mum and dad's elderly neighbour, we also have some shears. Almost everything in the garden has thorns, so my arms look like I have been in a fight with a particularly angry cat. The poor sparrows are wondering what on earth has happened to their world, but they still scurry about in the bare rose branches. We have also seen one of our teenage robins out and about, although it doesn't yet have its red breast, and we briefly saw a bullfinch.

I have put in one more job application, but that's all there is to report about dietetics. Apart from the fact that I have remained at the weight I achieved at the end of my placement in GNT, despite efforts to shift those last two kilos. I suspect that it is not within my power to get rid of them unless I go back to GNT.

Friday, 8 July 2011


Japanese-style garden in Herefordshire
So I've had two interviews, done some hoovering, and hacked down a load of stuff in the garden.

First interview went well, maybe too well. They didn't ask me anything difficult and probably had already decided not to offer me the job, given that they had advertised for someone with experience. It was a useful experience though, because it meant I was less nervous at the second interview.

The second interview was much harder, with genuinely testing questions. And they had a good look at my C placement portfolio, and asked me a question which genuinely floored me: "Would you accept the job if we offered it to you?" Lola II said I should have just given them an enthusiastic "YES!" but I'm not used to acting impulsively, and I really didn't know at that point if I would. After all, an interview is for both sides to decide whether they will get along, not just an opportunity for the interviewee to do all she can to suppress any off-putting idiosyncrasies and provide the answers that the panel is expecting. It may be more than two weeks before I hear the outcome of this interview.

I have been more ruthless than ever in the garden, reducing most trees to the size of shrubs, and then Mr A followed me out and took out a lot of rose bush and ceanothus. The ceanothus had suffered badly in the cold winter, but was showing signs of recovery with green shoots on lower branches and the trunk. In the hope that these would sustain it, and because it keeps threatening the integrity of the garage roof, it is now a very much smaller tree than it was. I would be out there now, decimating more vegetation, if it weren't pouring with rain. So I am indoors at my desk, pretending to be making further job applications, but actually blogging and listening to an audio book: almost anything is more fun than applying for jobs, except perhaps pruning and weeding in the rain.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Out On The Tiles

Window seat with view into garden
My guest bloggers are still thinking about it, so it's back to me again. I first posted this meme about 18 months ago, so in between watching Wimbledon, doing my tax return, shortening trousers and applying for jobs, I thought I'd do it again.


1. Put your MP3 player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write the name of the song no matter what. No cheating!

I've added a fourth rule - I'm writing down my thoughts about the song while it plays. And (not that it matters to you) my ipod is set so that classical music and spoken word don't come up on shuffle.


A relatively recent acquisition (i.e. in the last 10 years), from the Scissor Sisters first album, which Lola II recommended to me after she was introduced to it by some of MY friends. Lola II has a habit of stealing my friends, but that's OK because they like me more because of having provided access to Lola II, who is an asset to any informal gathering. Now she's started stealing Mr A's friends, who ask "When is Lola II coming to see us?" whenever they see me and Mr A.

"It's Only Us"

This makes no sense, unless I interpret it in some sort of existential way - our personalities are just what we are. Which is close to what I believe, I suppose. It's a nice song though, by good old Robbie Williams.

"One Road More"

This is from a pretty obscure live CD by Butch Hancock and Jimmy Dale Gilmore, who I would definitely have heard first at Cambridge Folk Festival in the 90's. It's very folky and American, it even features harmonica. In terms of liking One Road More in a guy, perhaps that's the motor sport and motorbikes? So far, this meme is providing neither insight nor laughs.

"I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental)"

This is more like it, apart from me not being a man or feeling sorrowful. From the movie 'O Brother, Where Art Thou' which I can thoroughly recommend, and not just because George Clooney's in it. He was the actor who sings in the movie, but the voice was provided by a guy named John Hartford. I heard a documentary where Hartford's wife was asked how she felt about George miming to her husband's voice. She said something to the effect of "John's voice coming out of George Clooney? Sounds like the perfect combination!"


Well, I suppose I got my First, although I don't like to think that's my only purpose in life. The song is from the soundtrack of the movie 'Magnolia' sung by Aimee Mann. I remember watching the film - it was while I was living as a lodger in Coventry in 2000, having moved down from Manchester but before settling in Leamington. The showing started at a normal sort of evening time, but I hadn't realised it was over three hours long (plus ads/trailers), so by the time it ended, the locale was deserted and the last bus had gone. The film is good but weird, Tom Cruise plays an uncharacteristically nasty character and I'd like to see it again, but the length of it puts me off.

"Love Island"

Is a Love Island good? Or should it be that I love Islands, or the concept of Island? It's obviously not my motto, but this is a track by the eminent Fatboy Slim, whom I mentioned in the first meme post as being pimped by the Guardian newspaper. I can't say that I listen to him much these days, but he would definitely suit a mood that required nodding of heads in time to the music.

"A Fool For Your Stockings"

This meme seems to be contrarily turning out the opposite of what is asked. Stockings? Nice to hear some ZZ Top though, who came to my attention during university the first time round ('The Rock Years'). I was hanging around with a guy who played cello in the uni orchestra and bass guitar in a band - I don't remember ever going to see him play the cello. The band used to play a couple of ZZ Top numbers, and some Elvis Costello (but I didn't subsequently buy any of his albums).

"Right On Sister"

A different way to express my feelings, but yes, I suppose so. Tom Robinson in his heyday, on the same album as 'Glad to be Gay'. I was in my gap year working as a sponsored student at Ford Motor Company, and I heard a rumour that the Big Boss (Sam Toy) had asked for the TRB song 'Grey Cortina' to be supplied to him. As the manufacturer of that car, it was said, he needed to be able to comment on the content of the song.

"Without You"

No, I don't think about this very much. The meme is certainly not coming up with interesting responses, but at least this is a lovely track from the Dixie Chicks, whose claim to fame was that they slagged off George Bush just before the Iraq invasion, and lost half their US audience as well as spending the next few years as anti-war pariahs.

WHAT IS 2+2?
"We Go Together"

OK, getting better, 2 plus 2 do go together, kind of. A jolly number from the soundtrack of the film 'Grease'. Not much more to say about that one.


I'm thinking of giving up this meme. Surrender? It makes no sense. The song is sung by the late great Elvis Presley, whose Greatest Hits album I bought on the strength of wanting to own one particular song very badly ('A Little Less Conversation') and then finding that I quite liked many of the other songs on the album as well. And everyone ought to have a little bit of Elvis in their lives.

"Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown"

Forget the meme, I'll just write about the random songs. The nature of randomness is exhibited by this second song from this obscure live album by obscure folkies Butch Hancock and Jimmy Dale Gilmore. Quite nice, but nothing more to say about it, except that this song's a bit more laid back than the other one, and there's no harmonica.

"La Habanera"

A great foot-tapping swinging dancey track from the great Swiss band Yello, introduced to me in the late 80's by Sas, the eclectic music connoisseur turned Buddhist. Where are they now, I wonder? [Not Sas, Yello, and I've just looked them up, and they've never gone away. I might go back and investigate their more recent work.]

"Over The Hills And Far Away"

I really don't want to be over the hills and far away when I grow up. Many people want to retire to distant locations with warmer weather and golf, but I would be happy in a windswept tundra as long as I had food, water and books. Led Zeppelin, from 'Houses of the Holy' which is one of my favourite LZ albums, even though it's not one of the 'classics'. This has prompted me to discover that I don't own Led Zep IV on CD. How strange, I thought I did.

"Five Pretty Faces"

Mr A only has one face that I'm aware of, and it's not THAT pretty, although he tidied it up a lot yesterday after some neglect due to sitting at his desk for days without respite. This track is composed and performed by someone I used to work with in my previous job, who turned out to be a bit of a home musician on the side. He gave me a copy of the CD he'd produced, and it's really good. A quick Internet search suggests that his music hasn't gone mainstream, unless he's using a different name.

"Ga Be'atsmecha"

This time the first Israeli track is what my parents think of me, and unfortunately the translation is 'Touch Yourself'. Right at the end of my year-long stay in 1987-8 I heard a track on Israeli radio, and managed to remember the artist and album, with the intention of looking out for it. I stayed with relatives on my way home, and mentioned that I'd like to buy some music to take with me, and my aunt suggested a different artist and album, and I followed her advice. I somehow didn't forget this one, and when the Internet developed to the point where I could buy Israeli music without actually going there, I bought it: 'Bribe', by Shem Tov Levi. Not what the young people are listening to today, but I like it.

"Cyprus Avenue"

Since the last time I did this meme, I have written about weddings. Also when doing the meme first time round, I was reminded of a very unpleasant character tied up with my musical history, and this track reprises that association - it's from Van Morrison's seminal album 'Astral Weeks', which I don't even like. I came to buy it through being naive and mildly exploited by said character. Meh. It's also totally unsuitable for wedding dancing, except in a swaying hippy eyes-closed style. I will now delete it from my ipod. There.

"Paranoid Eyes"

Pink Floyd at their most political, singing about the Falklands era. Mildly appropriate for a funeral, I suppose, but definitely not among my first choices. A present from a friend at university, and my memory is that he gave it to me for my birthday because I kept going on about it but was too stingy to splash out any money of my own.

"Don't Stop"

A jolly tune from Fleetwood Mac, and giving no clue as to my actual hobby or interest, other than the fact that currently I don't intend to stop. This is another of the rare tracks that I've stolen from the library, on a 'Rock Compilation' style CD.

"The Beach"

My secret beach, oh yes. Unlikely. Anyway, this is sung by Mary Coughlan, and I can't remember how I came to listen to her music, but it was probably Cambridge Folk Festival again. A interesting coincidence: a friend from school is now married to a chap who wrote and produced some of Mary Coughlan's songs on subsequent albums, and was very surprised to find out that I had heard of her.

"Feelin' the Same Way"

The right way that one should think of one's friends. This is Norah Jones, whom I listen to for calmness and relaxation. No particular lifetime associations; great voice.

"Out On The Tiles"

Great title for the post, and great song to end with - Led Zeppelin again, from the third album.

Overall, the purpose of the meme - to throw up unusual, interesting and amusing answers to the set of questions - has spectacularly failed. But I get to reminisce and bore you with my tales from the past, and you get another blog post. I win.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Dietetics, gardens and art

Purple borders and climbing roses alongside a path
It turns out that there is a tiny bit of dietetics-related stuff to write about in between guest posts. I had an interview on Friday, and have been invited for another interview somewhere else next week, which has been a great boost to morale. I've also been asked to provide some teaching input for a post-graduate module at the university! And I went to a meeting of the West Midlands branch of the British Dietetic Association, which was held at a hospital in Birmingham.

View of house with liliesI did some research into the location of the meeting, and found a couple of other places that I fancied visiting: the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and Winterbourne House and Garden. I like a nice garden, and Winterbourne has one, but the house is rather splendid too, and I took a load of the photos that adorn this post with enough left over for several more to come. If I were to visit Winterbourne House again I would probably take advantage of the delightful tea room, which has an outside terrace if the weather is good. As it was, I brought a packed lunch which I ate in the garden, and thought I'd get myself a cup of tea at the Barber Institute. There, the 'café' consists of a hot drinks machine, plastic-wrapped biscuits, and a chiller cabinet with soft drinks and chocolate. Bad choice.

Wooden bridge among foliageThe Fine Arts in question consist of a permanent collection and the current temporary exhibition which is all about tennis. A bit of history of the game: it turns out that the first lawn tennis club in England was in Leamington Spa; the first game of lawn tennis was played in Birmingham. Whatever. It was rather nice, looking at paintings and photos all featuring tennis or tennis players. They even had the famous Athena poster of the lady with the bottom, and some newspaper clippings of the model in the present day talking about the photo, which was taken (in Birmingham) by her boyfriend at the time. And the famous sculpture of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) dressed for tennis, except the caption says the sculptor worked from photos and he was actually dressed for squash. But those two are just the most well-known; I actually liked many of the paintings a lot more.

Glimpse of red among plants in the greenhouseAfter all this nature and culture, the BDA meeting was quite good too - three talks, about nutrition and HIV, research into views of tube-fed cancer patients, and burns. I was particularly interested in the description of the research. The objective of the study was to try and find out more about why the nutritional status of people who have a feeding tube placed before their cancer treatment still declines, despite all efforts to ensure that they receive their full nutritional requirements. The researcher didn't really find an answer to this, but what I found surprisingly interesting was the description of the research process she used. Now I'm wondering if I should be a bit more proactive in following up my research options.

Aside from work-related activity, I've obviously had quite a bit of spare time. Looking at my diary, I was amazed that it has only been two weeks since my degree result came through - it seems an awful lot longer. The badminton club has benefitted to the tune of a prototype website and email account, the acquired trousers have been successfully shortened, the kitchen remains clean, but the garden has not received any attention so far.