Friday, April 27, 2007

Thief ! Thief!

No not me. Some other bugger pinched my hand/camera bag from the car while I was taking pictures in a cemetary.

Don't panic though....the camera was with me at the time! As was my purse, mobile and notepad. (but woe and doom, not my tobacco. Had to wait till I'd got home, all shook up and not quite hysterical, for a fag).

To be fair (Why?!?) I had left the window slightly open. But said bag was heaped over with a pile of jackets and raincoat. Well I won't trust that camouflage again.

Biggest problem is, in my bag there was a mobile phone bill with my address on it and possibly a spare door key. (Also all except one of my spare camera batteries and memory cards. And two lens filters and a close up lens attachment. None of which would be a lot of use to anyone else really, I mean how much would a used battery or a rather worn memory card fetch on the open market? Oh and my not-driving glasses. I shall have a bit of trouble reading music for a while.)
But then when I was home, the phone rang and when Barney answered one there! Like, some thief hoping no one was home maybe?

And because the window wasn't shut I don't get insurance.

Now you are supposed to feel violated when things like this happen. As far as I can tell, I don't. But threatened and decidedly anxious yes. And panicked because I'm not sure I've remembered all the things that are in the bag. And exposed. Some bad person has noticed me and may choose to do things I don't want done which involve my life.
Suddenly I wonder if these people can somehow access my blog!!!!

Meanwhile, new locks have been purchased, dinner has been cooked and eaten (and I wish I hadn't, my stomach really doesn't like anxiety/dinner/anxiety sandwiches) and Barney has been assured that it's ok to go to the pub as long as I bolt all the doors behind him. (Not that I really need to do that. I think it makes him feel as though I'm going to feel safer.) After all the point is they have a key with which to get in if no one's home. They aren't going to do that if someone and the dog are clearly all over the place. Probably.
But it's nice that we have good solid bolts on the doors, this house being a good old-fashioned and solid one.

And I know no one's going to say it's my fault because you're all too nice. But it is.

And actually, shit shit shit!
And bugger.

Now I shall attempt to be calm.
If you read this post, you'll know that losing things is one of my greatest anxieties so it won't be easy. Somehow, it's no better if I foolishly contributed to some one else thievingly losing my things for me!

Yesterday's eggshell has a different feel today, fragile and delicate has become brittle and vulnerable.

Er. I really can't think anything sensible. At least I still have the camera, oh and one battery which I left behind. Ironic, that. Since if I'd noticed I'd left it at home I'd have been very cross.

Got to go and worry some more!

Why do things always look better in the morning I wonder?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Talking of complaints

Sometimes it's just fun to have a rant together with friends. Often over the shortcomings and difficulties of getting on with people; spouses, children, dogs, neighbours, employers,the doctor, the staff at the local shop, those kinds of people.
You know, like we often do on blogs.
Funny thing though. Over the years I've noticed that quite often the person under the microscope sounds a lot like me. That is to say, if my friends lived with me they'd have much the same things to say about me as they do about their spouses, children, er, not their dogs* though.
So what's going on? I make friends of people who share their lives with people** like me? all people do the same infuriating things and then complain about other people doing those same things?
Well and then I say (trying to be slightly honest and objective) "er, actually, I do that" and they say "Oh but it's different"
What? It's different when it's me? I don't do it to them (only to my spouse, children, doctor, er, not the dog though). It's different because I have an excuse?
It's all a bit related to that old saying about looking in the mirror if you want to see what really pisses you off (I'm not sure about the exact wording, it's been reworded a few times over the centuries).

Ah well. Maybe it's time to look closely at things.
But not to think too much.
I hope all your friends are as nice as mine are.
Sleep well :)

* Of course my dog does lots of the things they don't like other people's dogs doing.
**I mis-spelled that pwople. I think I may add pwople to the dictionary. It's completely baffled spell checker and I like it. I wonder what it means.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I love swimming

And I've just been over to one of my favourite blogs and been reminded of lovely things like waterfall pools and first beginnings of bands and that one day I'm going to change my avatar.

Meanwhile, I have made 24 packs of five cards each (mixed pictures in each pack) and it doesn't seem like very many.
And I have about fifteen waiting to be cut out and have little sticky tapes stuck on the back and to be fixed on card.
And a list about a mile long, of sets of pictures to be made up and printed and cut out and stuck on the back and fixed to card.
And my fiddle teacher wants cards with fiddles on to give her pupils when it's their birthdays so I shall have to take some interesting fiddle pictures and print them and etc etc.
Oh and I've run out of blue card.

Oh and I need to make some big prints for pictures to be mounted and displayed when I finally start this market stall thing so people can think Oh that's nice...Oh look there are little ones which I can afford.


I like swimming because although it undoubtedly is exercise (of a sort, depending on how hard you do it) it feels more like being stroked (so you can tell how hard I do it).

Got to go to bed!!!
I'll put some pics up tomorrow.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A letter of complaint is a lovely thing

And we make a specially lovely one today.
Decorated with a picture of the hole in our pebble dashing (and you know, if I do a picture it'll be a lovely one). Accompanied by a lengthy and detailed description of phone calls made and responses received and worded as only Barney knows how (then transcribed and much improved by me).

In triplicate.

That'll teach them!

It took ages!

So did this but I feel it was worth it. The sky was all flat and white so I added another, more interesting one. It's the cutting out of the tiny bits in between leaves that takes the time (even after using all photoshop's lovely magic selection tools there are always a hundred flecks of the wrong colour left floating around).
As for the fiddle, it's calling me.
Learning all the tiny notes in between the big plain ones is what takes the time...but it's got to be worth it?

And I've got GB from 3.30 till 5.30 tomorrow. Oh that will be fun. She'll be leading Grandma a merry dance or few.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, April 20, 2007

Reportage and song

Bother. I've just realised that I can't in any way comment on something that is making me very cross.


Oh well that's that then. I'm going to sulk. Well actually I'm going to practice my fiddle. Cos I've been asked to play with some friends tomorrow at the pub and accompany them on a song I really love but have never played before..need to have some idea of how it goes before tomorrow night.
The version we are doing is taken from Kate and Anna McGarrigle and is quite utterly magical and plaintive. As most of their work is. I wish I could give you the tune.

The Swimming Song
by Loudon Wainwright III

This summer I went swimming
THis summer I might have drowned
C D7
But I held my breath and I kicked my feet
G Em
And I moved my arms around.
D7 G
I moved my arms around.

This summer I swam in the ocean
Swam in the swimming pool
Salt in my wounds, chlorine in my eyes,
I'm a self-destructive fool,
Self-destructive fool.

This summer I did the backstroke,
And you know that thats not all.
I did the breast stroke and the butterfly,
And the old Australian crawl,
The old Australian crawl.

This summer I swam in a public place and a reservoir to boot,
At the latter I was informal,
At the former I wore my suit,
I wore my swimming suit.

This summer I did swan dives and
Jack knives for you all.
And once when you weren't looking
I did a cannonball
I did a cannonball.

This summer I went swimming
THis summer I might have drowned
But I held my breath and I kicked my feet
And I moved my arms around.
I moved my arms around.

Actually I wish I was singing it as well as playing it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


When I was about 12, my Dad suggested I might like to read the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and provided me with a very small, slim, leather bound book. Illustrated. It would be untrue to say I read it (about a quarter maybe). Vast amounts of rhyming verse has never been my thing and I wasn't terribly impressed by the subject matter.
Still, the famous verse has naturally stuck in my head.

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

Well, this evening, the loaf of bread (ie dinner) remained at home but here's the wine*
and thou**
I only wrote all this because I liked the reflection of the sinking sun in the wineglass. And I had to look up the Rubaiyat in wikipedia.
The internet is a wonderful thing.
I never realised that

The moving finger writes and having writ
Moves on; nor all thy piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line
Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it

was his too.
Far out.

*albeit a very small, glass shaped flask
**or, Barney as 'thou' is known around here.

Labels: , , ,

Er....could I possibly have a shower now....if it doesn't inconvenience you too much?

So I can go for a walk in the woods
Large thorns notwithstanding
It's that time of year again.
Shadows making waves in a sea of bluebells.

Hope you are all enjoying the sun.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Work in progress

Labels: , , ,

soup and...oh my card has arrived

As I write, an inter city link man is hunting through his van for my pack of card related goodies from the craft site. I waited, for a while, all ready to open the door but he disappeared into the bowels of his van and hasn't reappeared.
How long does it take to find a pack of cards and envelopes? I wouldn't want this man to change a light bulb for me.

(just as well I do it myself).

Well I was going to whinge about soup. Since the advent (years ago) of the whole concept of hearty soups, meals unto themselves, stuffed with vegetable goodness and wholefoody stuff, it's been almost impossible to get a ready made soup which isn't packed to the gills with thick potato wadges and masses of big pasta lumps and further thickened with flour and cornflour and thickening agents. Pick up a pot of any fresh soup in a supermarket and you can see the stodgy, gluey mass of 'heartiness' glued to the bottom of the pot.

Now when I was younger, soup and a sandwich was my absolute favourite lunch. Dead simple, choose your own sani filling and add a quick packet (Knorr were my favourites, spring veg, chicken noodle and another thin one...oh and minestrone. In those days a light scattering of pasta was an unusual treat.). As far as I was concerned, the sani provided the protein and starch and if absolutely unavoidable, the veg. the soup was there to wash it down and add that nice warm, full feeling, and to be pleasantly salty.

So, Waitrose Minestrone, thinned down by half and salted up again with stock powder.

I preferred soup before the EU guidelines on food colourings and flavourings.

Me, I like COLOUR.

Here are the latest card designs*...

Pack of five, mixed, yours for £several...I've no idea. Need to wander round shops and stalls, observing, adding, dividing and multiplying costs, prices, desired profit and other kinds of profit. Oh, that would be expected profit!
What do you think?
And what do you think I should charge per card (picture mounted on nice, white, cream, blue or silver card and neatly packaged in cellophane.) if I were to try getting them displayed in local craft shops?
Any advice? Please :)

*If by some extraordinary chance you are a lurking card design thief, please note these are copyright, me. Or however you're supposed to say it. It says so at the bottom of the blog. It means it. (But if you want to put one on your desk top, that's fine :)
I suppose from now on I would like people to ask before printing their own copies...I will be selling mounted prints too. I can't very well say "except those of you who may have as many as you like because I know you're not going to use them for commercial purposes" cos that would rather undo the whole copyright thing. Other wise I would :)

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Next, spoilt for choice really!

Well I could stick all the sets of photos, I've just prepared, onto their card blanks. I could work out how much the card blanks, envelopes, printing paper, sellophane wraps, ink, frames, and anything else has cost.
Then I could look up card blanks on the internet and find out how uneconomical I'm being so far!
I could rearrange the picture package in Photoshop so that I can get five cards on a page instead of four (the blank bit at the bottom of each page is flashing £ ($) signs at me each time I cut out a batch and it's driving me nuts)
I could try out some cheaper paper (usually the colour comes out crap but it's a different brand so you never know it might work)
I could dismantle and dust the cutter.
I could make a cup of tea.
I could fill up the dishwasher and tidy the kitchen.
I could blog.

Oh look, I seem to have made a cup of tea and started blogging....almost without noticing I was doing it.
Sensible decision don't you think?

Today we saved a hedgehog. At least I hope we did. It was all sad and not properly curled up near our back door and didn't move out of the sun or trundle away or anything. Had a nasty injury on a back leg and some chunks of prickle missing. So I covered it up and gave it some water and rang the RSPCA and then followed instructions and put it in a box and didn't give it any bread and milk. Apparently they have milk and wheat intolerance.
Later an RSPCA girl came and took it away to stay with a nice lady who looks after sick hedgehogs :) And by the time she came, it was standing up and sniffling around an empty water bowl so I felt we'd done all right there :)
Sadly I was so impressed with our new, hedgehog saviour status that I forgot to take any pictures of it. but it was very cute, if a little bedraggled and battered.
The last time I saved a hedgehog, it was a lost baby, years and years ago, in Devon. I read all my wild animal books and concluded that it needed slugs. But it didn't seem to be able to manage them full size so I nobly cut the horrible things up for it. Which worked fine for the hedgehog but was such a totally disgusting, sticky, slimy and difficult job that I could hardly eat for several days. (you wouldn't believe how hard it is to cut up slugs with a blunt kitchen knife and it's almost impossible to get the slug bits off the knife afterwards. Mum wasn't at all impressed!)
And then one day I caught the little bugger cheerfully hunting down and eating his own full size I banished him.

I think I shall stick some cards together now.

After that I went and found some magnolia
And some blossom
That's better :)

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, April 13, 2007

After the storm - A garden

You may recall that quite some time ago there were storms and some of our wall fell may not recall this as it was quite some time ago.
Naturally, we phoned the insurance company.
We got our instructions about estimates,organised them and had a visit from the loss adjuster (Storm in January, visit in February)...not too much delay there, considering half the country had storm damage to report to insurance companies.
Now that it's April you might imagine that all was sorted and paid for and forgotten.
Well no, not quite.
I was going to list the phone calls I made but it got boring and repetitive, enough to say, I have made 13 calls to them and they have phoned once (but failed to leave a message, though I had suggested they do so if I was I've only their word for it that they phoned at all).
After every one of my calls there have been promises to phone back 'in a day or two', 'later today', 'in about an hour', 'early next week'. Etc etc. At least half the calls I made were on the day they were supposed to be phoning me and they were 'out of the office' They've lost the estimates so I had to send more copies (it took two weeks of calls to establish that). At the last call they were supposed to be contacting the insurers because we'd got estimates to 'replace the gable end wall', We hadn't; the estimates were for replacing the pebble dashing on the gable end of the roof and said so quite clearly. However, I don't know for sure that the insurers were being told inaccurate things because I couldn't speak to either of the people who've been receiving my calls...both of them were out of the office!

Well I haven't shouted at them, I haven't been abusive and I haven't made empty threats. I have nagged persistently and I have given them about half a day's grace each time they didn't phone back. I'm told their phones don't work properly at the moment...I even refrained from being sarcastic about whether it was because they didn't know how to use the phone.

Barney is threatening to write to the insurers, the ombudsman and the world but really all we've got to complain about is a long delay and a string of unmade calls. The frustration and fury is all at this end of the line. fortunately, since Barney knows how to fix a tarp over a gap in the roof we haven't had any leaks. Next call, end of this week. I'd better do it tomorrow in case they're out of the office.

It's all part of life's rich tapestry (the underneath part where the threads are close to the ground and no one can quite see what they're made of or where they lead or what they're for).

Romney Marsh though...that's a totally different kettle of fish. Very nice fish too, and the chips were wonderful :)
And Derek Jarman's garden.
For those who don't know of him, he was a visionary film director who died of Aids.
During his last years, he lived here and created this garden, which blends into the bleak landscape as if it had grown there and reflects outward to the ever-changing skies and the unchanging shingle and scrub.
I know almost nothing of the man himself but I feel that as he worked on this final piece of art, he was looking outwards always. I imagined him kneeling, with his back to the house, the shelter he'd made from the world, and drinking in the light and shadow, bathing in the wind and increasingly, struggling with physical limitations to keep building and refining what he saw out there and perhaps, what the landscape inside his mind said.
It seems presumptuous to make assumptions about what is in an artist's mind as he works. So I won't. What he saw when he looked inward may well also be reflected in the sculptures.
I certainly haven't done the garden would have yielded up finer pictures and more arresting images on a less hazy day, earlier in the morning, later in the afternoon...but it was very, very moving nonetheless.

Here is a rather better set of pictures, worth a look. (for one thing, it was taken later in the year and there were flowers...I'd love to see it like that) Also, I felt inhibited by the fact that it's now owned by his lover/partner, who seemed not to be there at the time but may well get absolutely fed up with random hordes of photographers and tourists wandering round the place all day snapping and exclaiming and advantage of going when we did! Maybe my outward looking idea was simply because I didn't want to spend too much time staring rudely at the cottage :)
And here, a lovely, short article which says rather more about the man himself.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 12, 2007

missing presumed right under my nose

I've lost a card. And a card blank.
Ooh, I've just found the card. I'm not going to scream although it was inside the other card which I've been checking obsessively for the past two hours.

Well I've checked, and therefore inadvertently tidied, three heaps of assorted paper (which urgently need filing), I've looked through every box and heap of card making material and all the drawers and cupboards and under all the same things in the room. And beside them. And down the backs of them.
I've picked everything up and checked through it and underneath it and then just in case I didn't do it all, done it all again. I've taken out every made up card and every card blank and envelope.
I've also looked all round the computer, the printer and my handbag.
I've looked inside the printer. I've looked in all the waste bins and boxes.
I thought about looking inside the DVD writer but I'm pretty sure the card blank won't fit in there...still, I keep eyeing it thoughtfully.
I did check the oven, the larder, the sitting room, the kitchen...oh, I didn't look in the fridge....No, not there.
Oh well, I'd better look through all the blanks again.






I am an idiot. Or alternatively, work is bad for my head. Or how about 'engage brain before believing evidence of eyes'.
I was looking for the wrong kind of blank.

Wel it's only taken me two hours to sort that out so that's good...Oh, actually three and a half hours. Right. Excellent. That'll teach me.

Mind I should have realised that a quick burst of blogging would clear the fog :) Cleaning my glasses probably helped too.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Of work and leisure.

Today (and yesterday) I began the large task of making greetings cards out of photos.
Said photos being all virtual of course so the process includes persuading the computer and printer to agree on the size of the end product...not, you understand the file size, or the number of pixels or the size on the screen or whatever other sizes you might have been thinking about (you weren't? The computer does) but the actual piece of printed paper that has to fit neatly and attractively inside a little 'aperture' in a piece of card.
In the end it seems the only way to be sure that the picture fits into the card is to make the actual image a good bit smaller than the aperture and then add a border which is a good bit larger. The border has to look nice, both with the picture and the also has to look as though it was intended to be there for a purpose other than making sure the picture doesn't fall out of the card.
Other pictures have to be persuaded, in the same way, to fit into picture frames (which I collect from charity shops).
Next I am going to decide on a sensible size (which the computer will tell the printer to produce without too much argument and adjustment) and order a large number of card blanks and mounts (mattes) ready made. I am also going to order lots of little plastic bags to put cards in and then I shall arrange the cards in nice little, skies, animals, landscapes, ducks (Ducks??? Oh all right then, ducks too) *and so on...Oh and I shall probably also order two or three box/shelf thingies for displaying cards on a stall. and sticky labels for prices and stuff. Maybe little contact sheets for the back of each packet? With descriptions)
Oh ...very important...I shall post the letter to Art on the Park (which is a sort of Green park arts display only in Newbury's Vickie Park) asking if they have any pitches to spare for li'l ol' me.
And when I have a large amount of cards and pictures mounted (matted?) I shall email the Beep and ask him to introduce me to the man who runs the Oxford Market where he has his (lovely and full of desirable things) stall.
It may take a while yet though...I just counted and the result of eight hours work and some backache, is 27 cards and 12 pictures. Probably not enough yet to make some kind of enticing display on a market stall (besides being a not very sensible number of cards).
So much for work.
Leisure now, that's what we did in Romney Marsh :)
We rode on the little train
We climbed the old lighthouse
We looked at the view (and went Ooooh! Look at the view!!! As you do)
Then I looked at the giant lantern and went Oooh some more
We walked down to the sea (where oddly enough, the shore was bristling with rod and line fishermen - just over the shingle bank)Watched the train coming back for our return ridePored over the map as we went past Derek Jarman's garden
Wondered why (or indeed whether) people actually live here
And enjoyed the views
Quite hard work really, this leisure business!

*Yes and little boats too of course :)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Seventh Continent

There's a saying, 'there are seven continents, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe Australia and Romney Marsh'. I'm not sure if this refers to the opinion of the rest of the world (of the oddness and reclusiveness of Romney Marsh people) or to the conviction of the local populace that they are a breed apart and live in a place quite separate from the rest of the world.

It was, of course, under the sea until quite recently (historically speaking). It is an unusually flat place. Very bleak, desolate and romantic, seething with history and war remnants. And sheep.
This is Camber Castle (the Marsh is littered with castles)

And this is near Rye Harbour (which according to the OS map is either in the middle of a perfectly dry and empty patch of marsh or in the middle of a small industrial estate)
Taken from the seaward side of the dunes which stand between Camber Sands and the sea. On the other side of the dunes you drive along a flat road which winds between dykes and embankments and are very aware of being well below sea level. The line of dunes and sea walls and shingle banks fill the seaward horizon and far, far away on the other side there is a wall of hills which was once the shore line. In between, the seventh continent. On a misty morning I believe you'd see the ghosts of waves and flickering reflections of wandering tides and currents in the corner of your eye. Atlantis has nothing on this place!
There are many snug little corners though; this is where the sea lock divides a meeting place of rivers from tidal waters.
Tide being out at the time.
After wandering around the creek in the late and warm sunny afternoon, we set off to our hotel in Hythe. The journey had taken four and a half hours (not the two and a half blithely estimated by Google earth), mainly because we decided not to use the motorways because of the bank holiday traffic. This was a good decision; as we travelled we listened to the radio detailing blockages, accidents and traffic jams on every major route we would have passed and the route we took went through some beautiful corners of Kent on it's way to Sussex. If you have to spend four and a half hours on the road it's hugely better to spend it meandering backwards and forwards across the garden of England than sitting in the hot sun on bits of motorway. The hotel was really quite nice and joy of joys...the view from our window :)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 05, 2007

And suddenly

We're off to Romney Marsh tomorrow. Kindest friend is going to dog/cat sit, room booked for the night and exhaustive study of wikipedia and multimap and all sorts of useful internet stuff tells me that not only can we travel on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway but we can also see the village and harbour that feature in my most favourite childrens' books from verylongago (wish for a pony - Monica Edwards) and Derek Jarman's Garden at Dungeness.
Good heavens...spell check hasn't heard of wikipedia! Madness!
And before we go I AM GOING TO GET MY HAIR CUT!!!!! So I'll be able to see all these marvels..or as many of them as we have time for :)
Sorry, no time for links, I have to be up and rushing early and need to think a little bit about packing!
yay! :)
I am a quite cheerful bunny all of a sudden :)
Have a lovely time when I'm away and sleep well tonight :)
Smoke, brooding hills and windswept trees on the road to The Trough of Bowland in Lancs :)

Remember the wild boar piglets? Growing up and getting to be a bit of a pain for mum!
But for all-out endearing, pigletness, how about the new litter of Tamworths (and some Berkshire Old Spots?)

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, April 02, 2007

The not so ugly head

Of the past.

I was tired and sleepy last night and didn't feel like thinking so I had a quick-ish look through things I had thought in the past. Well if I thought some thoughts already, I might as well make some use of them. Went back to September 2005 even.
And discovered some comments I missed at the time.

Golly! that person I thought was ignoring me left a comment apologising for ignoring me!
That person I thought was really too clever for me said nice things about my blog!
An anonymous person said it was well structured (!!!!) and thought out. (I don't think that one could have been reading it at all!)*

Here are some pictures of Wyresdale Park, nestled in the Lancastrian hills.
I think this was a back entrance
Gorgeously green and grey

And a view from above the park...and when I turned round, I saw this...One of the things I love best about the North is how you're never short of a gate and an old stone wall and a solitary gnarled tree on the horizon. In fact there are solitary gnarled trees all over the place!Well now I need to make some plans. In spite of an inordinate amount of time and stress spent on all these gadgets, there still seem to be an awful lot of things to replace and update and re-organise. It amazes me that I ever found any of it before.
Time to make a list. It's going to be a very boring list too so I'll do it elsewhere :)

*Actually, I think that one was spam (If I'm wrong and whoever it is still reads this, do let me know and I'll apologise profusely :)
Long pause for thought or something that resembles thought,, goodnight :)

Labels: , , , , , , , ,