Missed Me?

Aug. 2nd, 2013 09:50 pm
marjorie73: (Default)
This past week or so has been a little stressful - we've been replacing our elderly and very slow computer system, with new servers, hardware, and moving from having separate servers in every office, to having everything in one place.

And of course, things have not got entirely to plan, some stuff took longer than expected, and getting the various bits of software we use to play nice with each other has caused a few problems, so even through the main upgrade happened over the weekend, the IT guys have been in all week to get everything set up (and to try to work out why one (and only one) of the new computers is not playing nicely with the dictation system, and to make it behave itself)

My laptop has been to visit the IT guys to check out whether it was about to die (answer: probably not - it's running a bit hot but did well in its stress test, so for now I'm buying it nice cooling stand and am going to try not to spill any more drinks into it. I've heard they don't like that)

We're still having very hot weather, which I don't appreciate - I think we've had the hottest day in 7 years, and also one of the longest unbroken periods of sunshine.

On Monday, things changed a little - well, a lot.
We had torrential downpours, thunder, lightening, the lot. I popped out of the office at, lunch time for about 5 minutes, I got so wet that my shoes took 2 days to dry out, and I had to wring my hair out when I got back to the office..

It was still raining when I got home, and while I didn't dance naked in the rain (the neighbours are too close, and not understanding!) I did go out to enjoy the rain.
I wasn't the only one. There was a beautiful frog, and hundreds of lovely little snails. Mostly they were the stripey kind, but there were also dark brown ones, and yellow ones. They really are fascinating little creatures, and so beautifully shiny, in the rain.

(I admit I'm prejudiced. I can't feel quite so friendly towards the slugs. I'm sure they are just as fascinating, but they are rather less attractive)

Since Monday it has got hot again - I'm hoping it will be cool enough to do a little gardening tomorrow.

I'm also trying to get the house a bit less cluttered - last weekend I managed to completely fill the wheelie bin, and have taken 2 big bags of books to charity shops, and to tidy up the cupboard under the stairs so that I shall be able to fit several boxes of  my less-favourite books into it. There's a way to go yet, but I shall get there.
So, that's what I have been doing for the last week or so. How about you?
marjorie73: (Default)
A couple of weeks ago, my cousin contacted me to say that she and her parents, and her 2.5 year old son, had rented a cottage in South Devon for a week, and there was a spare room, so would I like to join them? And I would., so I did.

View from the door

Unfortunately I had to work on Monday, so I couldn't go for quite the full week, but I was able to drive down on Monday after work, and stay until Saturday.
Another view from the cottage

We were lucky that the weather has been so lovely - and as you can see, we had a wonderful sea-view, so when we were too hot to go anywhere, we could stay in the cottage and look at the views, listen to the sea, and watch the house-martins going to and from their nests in the corners of the bedroom windows.

We went to the beach several times - always an interesting trip, as most of the lanes were only (just) wide enough for a single car, so any drive was liable to include some reversing, and squeezing into hedge-bottoms!

The nearest beach was on the estuary, with a sandy beach, so although it was tidal, it had very few waves, which I liked, as I was able to swim without getting too many slaps in the face by waves (and I could leave my glasses on, which is always a plus!

We went late in the afternoon, when it was a little cooler, and there was shade, and this had the added advantage that many people were starting to leave as we arrived,so we got an uncrowded beach.

My cousin and I took J to Start Point Lighthouse, which is open to the public, as he likes lighthouses. It's quite a long walk from the car-park for someone who is only two and a half, but we all made it!

And then we all did the tour, and got to climb all the way up. I was a little disappointed that you can't get out onto the walkway outside the lantern - apparently the lighthouse-keepers used to have train so that they could abseil down the outside if it became necessary, in an emergency!

It was fantastic to have such a clear, bright day to visit (it was the coolest day of the holiday, so the walk was do-able; my aunt and uncle went for a proper, 5 hour walk elsewhere!

Start Point Lighthouse

Below the cottage were rocks, so we were able to take J down to investigate the rock pools, which was fun for everyone (there didn't seem to be much other than limpets and seaweed in the pools, which did not seem to detract at all from J's enjoyment, and which meant there was no sea life to be disturbed by his shrimping net!)

At the top of the field behind the cottage was the old coastguard station, now staffed by Coast-Watch volunteers, and we were able to walk up. The views were stunning!  There's a little one-room visitor centre with information about local wildlife and sea-life, and information about shipwrecks in the area.

View from Coast Guard Station

And in the evenings there were BBQs,and champagne and strawberries, and 'treasure hunts' for J in the garden,and general relaxation.

All in all, it was a lovely opportunity to relax and unwind (did I mention that there was no phone signal or internet connection at the cottage?)

On the way home, I met up with my parents for lunch, although we decided it was too hot to look around the gardens of the stately home we met up at.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and it was a little bit of a shock to the system to have to go back to work today, but such is life...
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For some reason, we get two bank holiday Mondays in May. (I feel they could usefully move one of the into the bank holiday desert which runs from August to December, but they are nice when they happen)

This weekend has turned out to be warm and sunny, and I decided to make the best of the weather on Monday, by visiting one of our local landmarks, the White Horse at Westbury.

Bratton Hill at Westbury has clearly been an important place for a very long time. There is a Neolithic Long-Barrow there, around that the walls and ditches of an Iron Age fort.
It's difficult to give an idea of the hill fort from pictures - the one above is taken from the ditch between the inner and outer wall - the whole thing is very big, and dramatic (and full of sheep)  You can see it fairly well on Google Maps.

View Larger Map

The fort is about 2,000 years old, and it appears that the Iron Age population preserved the Neolithic Barrow inside the fort.

The White Horse itself is believed to have first been carved into the chalk of the hill in the mid 17th Century, although it was re-cut in the 1770's by someone rather better at drawing horses, and since the 1950s it has been covered in concrete, which doesn't require so much maintenance.

I love the new facts one can learn by reading the information boards at places like this. I knew that there are lots of White Horses around the place, and that most of them are fairly modern (Uffington is the exception, being about 3,000 years old).

What I didn't know is that one of the reasons so many 18th Century West Country land owners chose to add white Horses to their hills was that there was a belief that the original, Uffington Horse had been carved by (Or at least on the orders of) King Alfred the Great, to commemorate his victory over the Danes, and of Christianity over Pagans, and therefore the White Horse was seen as symbolic of that fine, upstanding English Christianity personified by King Alfred.

Another reason may have been as a demonstration of more modern patriotism; a white horse features on the coat of arms of the house of Hanover, and of course George I, the first of the Hanovarian Kings of England, came to the throne in 1714, about 25 years before the Westbury White Horse was first recorded.

We shall probably never know, but whatever the reasons for its creation, it's an arresting sight, and a lovely site for a walk.
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I decided to go down to Devon for Easter weekend, to visit my parents and relax and unwind a little.

It was, inevitably, still cold, but also sunny, which made a nice change. And as it was a sunny day, we decided to go to the seaside, to the (Baggy Point end) of Woolacombe.

There were some brave souls surfing (although not, I think, with much success. The waves were big, but irregular and unpredictable) We stuck to the walking along wearing thick coats option, which was more comfortable. We also decided against having an ice cream. Even though it *was* the seaside.

Saturday evening was, of course, the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who - and my lovely parents arranged dinner to fit round it (and even brought me a pre-dinner drink as I watched!)

On Sunday the clocks went forward, and as it was Easter Sunday, there was a church service to ring for, which of course felt as though it was an hour early.

The church did look lovely, though - the church yard is full of daffodils and crocuses and primroses, and the sun was out.

After ringing, we went for a walk locally, through the beech woods, where the old railway used to run.

It was cold, but there are some lovely views. And lots of primroses and snowdrops in the hedge-bottoms. (We even found one violet, but it was the proverbial shrinking violet!)

I really enjoyed being able to relax and unwind. The house is so quiet - I love lying in bed listening to the birdsong, and the calling of the tiny lambs in the field outside, and I enjoy watching all the different birds which come to the feeders outside the living room windows.

The most frequent visitors are a gang of goldfinches, but there are also lots of sparrows, blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, a greenfinch, and blackbirds and thrushes (mostly on the ground under the feeders) I'm told there is a coaltit sometimes, although I didn't see it this time, and there is a very territorial robin, too!

Oh, and I got a lovely chocolate Easter Egg despite being officially grown up!

marjorie73: (Default)
ve been away from the internet for the past 10 days or so, as I've been away on holiday in Turkey with my sisters, and for part of the time, with D, my sister K's soon-to-be sister-in-law.
We had a great time, and I really enjoyed being able to spend time with my sisters, and getting to know D.

I think it will take more than one post to cover it, so will take me a few days, but here goes!

Our flight out was on Tuesday evening, from Gatwick, so my younger sister E drove to mine for lunch, then we went to K's home where we left E's car and all 3 of us got a trian to Gatwick.

As we were going on holiday, I'd come prepared, and once we were safely on the train produced cans of G'n'T, slices of lime, and ice cubes (it's harder to transport ice cubes secretly and with no cool bag than you might think) so we all had drinks in style.

We then met D at Gatwick, and spent 4 hours on a charter flight filled with fractious children! Once we got to Dalaman, however, things improved - we picked up out hire car, and K bravely drove us home, in the dark (Both Turkish roads, and Turkish driving, tend to be.... interesting!

K's fiance owns a flat in Fethiye, which is where we stayed. It's about 25 mins walk from the centre of the town, slightly up on the hill, so it's a little cooler, which is nice.

We spent our first morning stocking up on food, then, as one does, we headed out to the Hamman (Turkish Bath). We decided, on the advice of some of K&C's friends, who had visited just before us, to try a new hamman at one of the local hotels - it was very modern and shiny - and instead of the traditional cold shower after the sauna and scrubbing there was a very cold plunge pool, instead. It was fun, and very relaxing,but all of us who'd been hamman-ed before agreed that we preferred the less slick sand more traditional city hamman, and resolved to go there for our next scrub! Although the hamman proved, once again, that no matter how well you believe you've exfoliated, the Tellak (masseur) will prove you wrong. I do wish that there was a Turkish Bath near me at home!

The following day we decided that some Proper Culture was appropriate, so we drove to Patara, which is a Lycian site - it was an important naval base around the time of Alexander the Great, was mentioned in the Iliad, was visited by emperors Hadrian and Vespasian and was the birthplace of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra (AKA Santa Claus). It was eventually abandoned after the harbour silted up, any many of the ruins were hidden, and preserved, by the sand dunes.

Parliament Building, Patara
There has been a lot of archaeological work going on over the last 20 years or so, including, most recently, the excavation and partial reconstruction of the Parliament Buildings - there were the headquarters of the Lycian league, and the archaeologists have partially rebuilt it using some original and some replacement material, and leaving parts as they were found, so that in the seating, for instance, you can see the original ruin, how the building was constructed, and finally the finished article, faced with marble etc.
Patara amphitheatre
There is also an amphitheatre, which has not been rebuilt, 2 bathhouses (one of which is currently propped up with a good deal of scaffolding,

Harbour Baths, Patara
And the triple-arched 'Arch of Modestus' (who I can't help feeling may have been misnamed) and, of course, several of the pointy topped Lycian sarcophagi which I have come to associate with this part of Turkey (there is one in the post office garden, in Fethiye, for example..)
Lycian sarcophagus and arch of Modestus, Patara

Oh, and did I mention that as well as these spectacular classical ruins, Patara just happens to have a rather nice beach?

I have to admit, that being able to swim and sunbathe on a beautiful white beach in between sessions of exploring ancient Greek/roman and Byzantium ruins does add something to the experience!

After leaving Patara, we went on to Letoon, but that will have to wait until a later blog, as I need to sleep, now.
marjorie73: (Default)
I got back home yesterday after a long weekend visiting my parents in deepest Devon - it was a bank-holiday weekend, and as I didn't want to have to face the bank-holiday traffic, I booke the Tuesday off work as well, giving myself a 4-day weekend. Yum.

Of course, as it was a bank holiday, it started to rain as I drove down to Devon on Friday evening, but it was good to see my parents!

We spent a delightfully lazy Saturday - I had the rare pleasure of being brought a cup of tea in bed, and the rest of the day included inspecting my parent's brand new (to them) caravan, which was collected from the dealer on Friday, so is really new) wandering around the garden, and assisting in a joint effort to cook, then eat, a rather nice meal (roast duck, followed by lemon meringue pie, in case anyone is interested) and lots of conversation.

Sunday was my mum's birthday, but as it was also Sunday, and the parents suddenly remembered that they had promised to ring that morning, so we rushed out to go ringing, then came back and had a more liesurely second breakfast-and-gift-unwrapping before heading over to Tiverton, to Knightshayes Court, which is owned by the National Trust.

It's a Victorian, gothic-inspired house built for wealthy lace-maker in 1869, and especially well known for its gardens. My Grannie used to work as a volunteer there for the National Trust, doing flower arrangements for the house, and many of her 'best' plants (cuttings or decendents of which remain in my parents' garden) were gifts from the gardener there.

It even has little fairy tale turrets on the stables (Yes, that picture is the stables...) and at the corners of the kitchen-garden.

They were a fox-hunting family, and around the terraced lawn is a topiary fox-and-hounds hedge. The house itself is the Victorian idea of a medieval Great Hall, complete with minstrel gallery, gargoyles, an vast stone fireplaces, but also has slightly less convincingly medieval features such as the Billiard Room, Smoking Room, and Library (perfect for passing murderers!)

It would be a nice place to live, if you happened to be a stinkin' rich Victorian industrialist. And it has a very nice garden. (asuming that you have a whole regiment of gareners to keep in order)

We were very restrained. We did all buy some second hand books, but we didn't buy any plants. That's restrained, isn't it?

It was a nice day.
marjorie73: (Default)
(This was origianlly posted over at http://margomusing.blogspot.com/2010/05/in-which-there-is-sunshine-and-fighting.html and I just realised today that I didn't cross-post it here. It was last Sat

 I had been feeling a little disappointed, as I'd thought I might go to the Bristol Comic Con & Small Press Expo which is on this weekend, which would have meant the opportunity to but it turns out that having thought "I really should buy a ticket" doesn't have the same effect as actually buying a ticket, and by the time I got around to the whole buying a ticket part it was too late, and they were all sold out.

Which was sad, as lots of interesting people, such as Paul Cornell, Tony Lee, Jason Arnopp and others, many of whom I follow on Twitter. (plus, you know, comics and books and stuff!)

Still, when I woke up, it turned out it was a glorious sunny day, so I was reconciled to the idea of not having to get up early, and get a no-doubt hot and crowded train into Bristol to hang around inside a hotel...

Instead, I've been doing lots of chores -it's so nice to be able to get washing dried outside, for a change, and my clematis has come out in a riot of flowers and my tomato, lettuce and cauliflower plants all seem to be thriving, which is all most pleasing.

I went over to Bradford on Avon where my favourite picture-framer is based, to take him my 'Desert Wind' print, from Neverwear to frame.

When I got there, and was walking along by the river, I saw a couple of mute swans fighting.

videoGiven the third swan which was swanning around watching enthusiastically I'm guessing this was some sort of sordid sex and violence thing - although I suppose it could simply be a territorial thing.

It made me very aware of just how BIG these birds are. It was clear that each was trying to get the other's head under water, and by the end the winner was allowing the loser to have his head above the water, but was holding the rest of his body under the water.

They must have considerable stamina - I must have watched for at least 10 minutes, and the fight had started before I got there.

After that excitement I did get to the framers , and had a discussion about how the print is to be framed, and then, inevitably, I ended up in the bookshop. . . . although I was very good, and only bought one book (and that, second hand)
I then spent some time admiring the more picturesque bits of the town, before heading home where I did lots of housekeeping, as a result of which I now have clean floors, lots of clean laundry, much less dust, some freshly potted put tomato and aubergine seedlings, some newly planted squash and courgette seeds and lots of portions of bolognese in the freezer. And some different library books.

I also got time to go and queue up in the Post Office in order to post my engagement gift to my sister K and her fiance C. I will do another post about that later, with pictures (the gift, I mean. The queueing was uneventful, and doesn't deserve its own post), but I will wait, just on the off-chance that K or C stumble across this blog in the next few days, before the parcel arrives, and it spoils the surprise.

I bought a lot of stamps, too. Probably I should write to people in order to make use of them. The Post Office recently issued stamps for the Acession of King George V. This took place in 1910. It's good to know that they are so on the ball.

All in all, it was a good day.

marjorie73: (Default)
I am sorry for all those people who are standed by the grounding of flights as a result of the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, but I have to say the lack of noise from flights is rather nice. I don't live under a major flight path, and have never thought of it as being particularly noisy here, but the quiet is VERY noticable. And as natural disasters go, this one is stunningly beautiful. I was watching the news earlier, and they had film showing the ash cloud above the volcano, shot through with crimson lightening caused by the eruption. It's (literally) awesome.

Despite the suggestions on the news that we were all to be buried under drifts of ash, it has in fact been a beautiful clear, bright, sunny dday - borrowed from June, not April. I cut my (postage-stamp sized) lawn, planted the rest of the lettuces and tomato seedlings I bought yesterday, plus some seedds which may, perhaps, one day become spring onions, and tidied up the (also postage-stamp sized patio. and, as I am still not 100%, in between I spent quite a lot of time sitting in the sunshine doing nothing much bar listen to the bumble bees and birdsong.

Although I did leave the house briefly to take the car to Kwikfit to get a new tyre fitted - whie they were doing tht, I wandered into town and ened up buying two new pairs of jeans, and a bag, and i have seen some shoes I may go back & buy, if they fit (I didn't try them on because I have a rather large blister right now, which doesn't seem the optimum condition for trying on shoes)

It's been a good, relaxing weekend. and next Saturday (volcanos and health permitting) I shall be in London fopr the EvelynEvelyn show.
marjorie73: (Default)
So, it turned out that the bacteria (or virii) were just lulling me into a false sense of security, and instead of the worst being over last weekend, ameliorated by having a very good friend for company & tea making, they were just biding their time.
After J left on Sunday I curled up & snoozed, expecting to me more-or-less fit for purpose by Monday. Instead, by Monday morning I was at the stage where I took 3 attempts to succussfully make a cup of tea, (it seems that both tea & hot water play important roles in the process) and was coughing up half a lung every few minutes.

So I decided that I probably wasn't safe to drive a car, and that any advice I might be able to give my clients in between coughing all over them would probably not be very dependable, and went back to bed until Wednesday.

The rest of the week passed in a bit of a blur, as getting to work, getting home, and occasionally eating something took up all of my energy.

However, I do now appear to be on the mend, and I'm hoeful that I shall successfully see off this chest infection on the strength of my own immune system alone, no antibiotics.

Today, the sun is shining, I have spent some time in the garden, alternately sitting in the sun & enjoying the unusual lack of aeroplane noises & vapour trails, and getting my hands dirty planting out baby tomato and cauliflower plants.  The fact that aftr planting 3 tomato seedlings I need to sit down and get my breath back is a hint that this bug is still out to get me, but sitting down to rest in the sunshine, with no sound but birdsong and bumbling bees is no hardship.

And tonight there will be a new episode of 'Dr Who', with Daleks & Winston Churchill...


Feb. 14th, 2010 07:22 pm
marjorie73: (Default)

I don't wish to tempt fate, especially after the false alarm last week, but it does look as though spring might be on it's way.

I spent some time in the garden this afternoon, clearing away dead leaves and so on. I'm not really a gardener, and I suspect that some of this is stuff which ought to have been done in the autumn, but better late than never...

I have two little clumps of snowdrops, both of which have buds just beginning to open, and some other green shoots which I think may be crocuses when they get around to it. The rosemary bush seems to be thriving.

The sun came out for a little while whilst I was outside, which was lovely, and made everything look more alive - I can start to believe that more things will grow, and reappear.

I also finished off the marmalade, with lids and labels. It And ate some of it for the first time - there was a little bit left over, not enough to fill a jar, which forces me to eat it straight away....It isn't perfect - I think I ought to have let it sit a few more minutes before putting it in jars, as the peel has risen a bit, but only a little, and it tastes OK.
Small things, but satisfying. I think, today, I am happy


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