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When I moved in to my house I knew it would need a fair bit of work doing, and last year I got the majority of the indoor work done, with a new boiler, insulation, and lots of redecoration.

This year, it's time for the outside, and on Monday morning, 4 blokes and a JCB turned up to get started.

pre work

At the front, the previous owners had tarmaced over the front garden, leaving it open to the road, and I've wanted to turn that back into a garden, (hence the JCB)

Apparently they took out about 18 tons of tarmac and rubble.

After which they laid topsoil, and built me a fence and a couple of gates.

I am of course partial, but I do think it looks rather nicer now!

And I shall be starting to plant stuff at the front in the coming months.

At the back of the house, the previous owners had laid patio and gravel over most of the garden, and again, I wanted a bit more garden. In addition, at Christmas, the back fence succumbed to the weather.

The death of the back fence
pre-work back garden

So I decided that I would keep the patio but increase the amount of lawn, and of course replace the back fence.

new back garden

The new turf looks very neat and bright compared to the old grass (or it did..)

Because, having finished the work on Thursday, the heavens opened on Friday evening, and we had phenomenal amounts of rain in a very short space of time, which resulted in a very brief but spectacular flood.

Which was just a bit annoying :( I mean, the turf care instructions I have been given do say to "keep the new turf well watered" for the first couple of weeks, but I suspect this wasn't quite what they had in mind...

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The house is feeling surprisingly quiet and empty this afternoon, as my Christmas guests have departed, and so after a week, it's back to being just me and the cats!

But it has been lovely!

My parents arrived on Wednesday, after I finished work, and so were here to help me put the tree and other decorations up on Christmas Eve.

We had a very civilised, relaxed day on Christmas Day itself, with lots of nice gifts (including several books I wanted! ) Which was delightful!

Then a couple of days after Christmas we went to see my younger sister and her partner, and our brother and his girlfriend, and one of my aunts, and my uncle,and one of their sons, all also came, so we enjoyed a pub lunch (albeit with somewhat hit-and-miss service) and lots of catching up.And some more gifts.

Then yesterday, my sister and brother-in-law, her in-laws and step-daughter (and dog) all came over for lunch, so all in all, I got to see my entire immediate family over the holidays.

I have a couple more days off work, and am going to London to the theatre at the weekend, before heading back to work on Monday.

I am planning, therefore, to be extremely lazy for the next day or two, in the hope of being well-rested before returning to work.

I'm lucky that, at least so far, we have escaped the worst of the storms and floods. It's been very wet and windy, and my back fence has collapsed,which is annoying, but the house remains warm and dry. (The fence was already in a bad way, but I was hoping it would last another few months until I could get it replaced at the same time as the other work I want to have done in the garden.) However, a fallen fence is nothing compared with what people in York and other parts of the country have been suffering!


Jan. 14th, 2015 07:58 pm
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We were told, yesterday, that we would get snow today. Possibly quite a lot of snow. They were partly right. We got a light  dusting of snow.

(and I got to see that my loft insulation is, it appears, pretty effective, and that my water feature may be a land-shark in its spare time.)
Loki, unimpressed

Judging by the paw-prints, the cats had been outside before I came downstairs, and judging by their expressions, they were not impressed.

It started snowing again quite heavily as I set out for work, but then stopped almost immediately and the snow was all gone by mid-morning, although we've had the pleasure of sleet and wind since, too!
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We have not been having sub-zero temperatures, or airport-closing snow, as is happening elsewhere, but we have been having some horrendous weather. Massive amounts of rain and wind.

I'm glad I don't live on the coast - this picture is Sennen Cove in West Cornwall.

Picture from 'I love Cornwall' on facebook

There is flooding in lots of coastal areas, and around Gloucester.  The Somerset levels are flooded.

Here, we've had pouring rain, which is unpleasant to be out in, and wind, and (yesterday) a fairly dramatic hailstorm - we had a ceiling leaking in one of our offices at work, which was no fun for the person who got an unexpected cold shower at her desk. We couldn't find any obvious holes or missing tiles - it may be down to the wind driving rain in, rather than an actual 'leak' - we'll have to see once it's checked out properly.

<- I walked down to the paper shop this morning - this is the little stream which goes under the bridge at the end of the road.

 And this is what it usually looks like (both taken from pretty much the same point!) ->

Apparently we are due for yet more rain and high winds over the next few days. My heart goes out to all those who have suffered, or are facing, flooded homes - I've been there, albeit to a fairly limited degree, and it's horrible.

I'm really hoping that things will improve soon.

And meanwhile I am counting my blessings - that I have not (yet, at least) suffered power cuts or flooding, and that my family are all safe, and my house appears to be weatherproof (at least, so far!)
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I forgot, when I was booking my train tickets to go to London for the Kickstarter party, that the clocks would be going back on Sunday morning, and I had anticipated that I  might be a wee bit hungover, and wanting a lie-in. I was also holding out hope I might be able to meet up with a friend, too, so I'd booked a ticket for 1pm.

As it happened, I wasn't hungover, didn't need the lie-in (just as well) and my friend wasn't free. so I did what any sensible person would do, and went to the British Museum. I like the British Museum.

Painted Drinking Cup, Athens, 460BCE

They have lots of interesting stuff, and it's free to get in, so you can pop in when you've a spare hour or so, and just browse a little.

This time, I mostly wandered around the ancient Greek sections - I don't recall having seen the Bassae Frieze before -

Detail of Bassae Frieze (approx 400BCE)
I particualrly liked these footsoldiers on the Neiried Monument, peering over their shields.

Detail of Frieze from the Neried Monument (Lykia, 380 BCE)
And the magnificent horse from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

I gave the Parthenon marbles a miss, and wandered on to ancient Ninevah. I think it was Ninevah, anyway.

Then, a couple of hours on a train (and a  lot of time sitting on platforms waiting for trains) and home. Given the weather forecast, I was glad to be travelling on Sunday and not Monday, when they were threatening apocalyptic storms.

Missed Me?

Aug. 2nd, 2013 09:50 pm
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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?
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I had various things planned for this week, but have not managed to do the fun bits - I got back from my holiday on Saturday, and I was due to go to the Amanda Palmer gig in Bristol on Monday night, but as it turned out,  couldn't go. It was simply too hot, and I finished the working day feeling exhausted, with a heat-induced headache, and felt that to drive all the way to Bristol to spend hours in a loud and hot environment would be a Bad Idea.

I was very disappointed to miss AFP, and to miss catching up with friends, but I think it was the right decision - I wound up having a quiet evening and an early night.

I am just not cut out for summer weather.

I also missed another outing on Thursday, due to heat and work related issues. *sigh*

Catch Up

Jun. 8th, 2013 06:02 pm
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I've not blogged for the past couple of weeks partly as nothing very exciting has happened, and partly as my laptop has been poorly, and life is too short to try to blog from a phone!

My backspace key came off, and the tab key became extremely stiff and unreliable, so I decided that replacing the keyboard, rather than just the one key, was the way to go.

and then as I waited for the local repair shop to get the new keyboard in, I managed to spill a glass of G'n'T, and while I didn't, at the time, think any of it had gone onto the laptop, other than (literally) a drop or two on the casing, the laptop then intermittently  refused to start up which seems a bit of a coincidence.

Anyway, I took the battery out, and left everything in the airing cupboard for a few days. I thought it was completely dead, and was comforting myself with the reflection that I'd just backed everything up, so wouldn't lose anything.

However, (touch wood) it seems to be behaving again now, so it looks as though I have a reprieve, if not a cure.

I also now have a new keyboard.

And today I learned I won a book in a competition on The History Girls blog, which is a very nice surprise (it's a very interesting blog, I heartily recommend it, quite apart from the chance to win books) and I found that the unexpected parcel I had to collect from the post office this morning was a couple a books which I had forgotten I'd ordered, which is also happy-making.

And less than a week from today I get to see Nathalie, and Anabel, and Ian, and Brian, and of course Cheryl, and we all get to see Neil and get our copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

And I have booked a day off work so I will have a short week, although we have a partners meeting this week so there will be at least one very long day!

Meanwhile, it a a beautifully sunny day, and I have been pottering around, repotting tomato plants, and doing laundry (so nice to be able to dry things outside).

marjorie73: (Default)

It's turned very cold again. It snowed a little on Sunday night, and again today (although none of it settled) and it all proved too much for my car battery, which gave up the ghost overnight, and could summon up only a tiny, pathetic cough this morning, rather that, y'know, actually starting the car.

Fortunately, I do have breakdown cover (including Home Start) and it must be admitted that if you are going to have a non-working car, the best place to have it must be at home. At least I was able to wait inside, in the warm, and to get on with some work while I waited.

I would not have been impressed with a wait of almost 3 hours had I been sitting miserably at the side of the road!

On the plus side, I have a new car battery, so I shouldn't have the trouble again.

But I am so very ready for it to start being properly Spring-like, now.

marjorie73: (Default)

It stopped snowing yesterday afternoon, but stayed very cold, so today the pavements and the road in my street are all sheets of ice, as there's been enough traffic to compact the snow, but not enough to clear it. It looks as through the roads further out are mostly clear, so I should be able to get to work on Monday, provided we don't get more snow. Although  getting to the end of my own road is likely to be interesting, knowing that the road is clear beyond that is reassuring.

I went out this morning to see how bad the going was likely to be, and then walked down to the station in order to get a train into Bath,  to go to the theatre.

The train was late, and horribly crowded - to the extent that there were people unable to get on, at Avoncliffe. It turns out that Bath Rugby were playing at home this afternoon, which no doubt was part of the reason for it being so crowded. It makes me hopping mad that they never put on any extra trains (or even extra coaches) despite that fact that trains on match days are *always* packed. I imagine that the snow and the lateness made it even worse than usual. And they have just put the fares up. Grr.

Once I got to Bath, I grabbed a pasty for lunch, and took a few photos of nice buildings with snow on them, then back to the theatre to see 'Quartermaine's Terms'

The play, by Simon Gray, is set in a school teaching English as a foreign language, in Cambridge in the 1960s, and is presented as a series of scenes in the staff room, over a period of around 2 years.

There are lots of funny moments, but the play is ultimately a tragic one.

All of the characters experience their own personal disasters, whether in the shape of an unfaithful husband, a dependent and critical mother and unsuccessful love life, a daughter's suicide, a partner's death, snobbery and lack of professional appreciation or family breakdown and failure as a novelist. Everything is presented through the medium of staff room conversation, so practically all of the drama takes place off stage, and we only ever get a partial and understated view of anything.

Quartermaine himself (Rowan Atkinson) presents as, perhaps the saddest of all. He appears to be a well-meaning but ineffectual teacher, and to have no life beyond his job.  Throughout the play he is ignored or taken advantage of by his colleagues, who use him as a babysitter for their children, but forget or turn down his own invitations, and the play finally sees him facing the loss of his job.

There was a little too much of Mr Bean in Rowan Atkinson's performance for my taste, pushing his character from pathos to ridiculous once or twice, but despite this is was an interesting play, and I'm glad I was able to see it.

It is going to the West End now, for (I think) a couple of months - I shall be interested to see what the critics make of it.

My train home was late, which was actually a good thing for me - it meant I was able to get on a train 10 minutes after getting to the station, instead of missing one by 3 minutes and having to wait half an hour, and it was reasonably empty, too, so I got a seat.

The walk home from the station was hard work, due to the ice, but having spent a lot of time over the past 48 hours looking for my yaktrax I gave up and bought some new ones (well these) when I was Bath, so I was able to walk safely.

And I called into one of the local mini markets on the way home and bought a lime, so the well-earned G'n'T I gave myself when I got home could be properly garnished.

Tomorrow, I think I shall try to make another batch of marmalade. It's a nice, warm, indoor occupation.

Snow Day

Jan. 18th, 2013 05:59 pm
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The BBC has been forecasting heavy snow for today, in tones appropriate to an impending apocalypse. I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical, and was expecting to wake up to a heavy frost, or a dusting of snow. However, just in case, I did decide that I would do my grocery shop on the way home last night, rather than on my way home tonight.

However, it turned out that they were right, and I woke instead to about 2" of snow (Not a lot, by the standards of those places which have proper winters with 6' drifts, I know, but a lot for us here)

still thought that I would be able to go into work, but by the time I was ready to leave, 90 minutes later, I decided that would not be such a good idea, as it had been, and still was, snowing quite hard, in additional to which the local police were advising against any but essential journeys, and I saw my opposite neighbour leave, slithering all over everywhere, so I decided that working from home would be the better option.

I think I made the right choice - we ended up closing all of the offices at 2pm so everyone could get home, and I think all of those who were able to get in were either close enough to walk, or had 4x4s.

It continued to snow for most of the day,and we ended up with about 5" of snow, and the bits of road around my house had just enough traffic to compact the snow into a icy mess.

I spent the morning working, but did go out a little later for a short and chilly walk in a monochrome world.

There were lots of bits very decorative bits of ironwork, and the few other people out and about were all friendly. And of course, getting a bit of fresh air and exercise is always good!
I'm not sure Tybalt agrees about that part. He approved of me being home all day, and he approved of the heating being on all day, but he very definitely didn't approve of my poor management in allowing all this cold, wet stuff outside the back door and the front door at the same time!

I was supposed to go to the theatre this evening, in Bath, but that isn't going to happen, as I can't drive there (It's further, more hilly, and on smaller roads than the trip to work would have been, and it's now dark and freezing...) and although I could potentially get a train in, it would involve a cold, dark walk to and from the station, and probably a wait of about 40 minutes for what would be the last trian back, which of course may be cancelled. Fortunately the theatre was very understanding and I was able to change my ticket for one for tomorrow's matinee (when, assuming the snow hasn't gone, I should be able to get trains both ways). It's not such a good seat, but much better than missing the production altogether (tomorrow is the last day).
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I had a day off today, so have been catching up with various errands, on the basis that shopping and such are likely to be less stressful today, than on Saturday when no doubt everywhere will be busier.

I had planned to have a nice lie-in before starting everything else, but naturally, having made that plan, I then work up at about 5.30 and couldn't get back to sleep, so ended up getting up in disgust a little earlier than on a normal working day. And as there's a lot of cloud around, I couldn't even take the opportunity to try to spot some of the Geminid shower.

After all the ice and frost of the last few days, it's turned very wet (somehow without feeling any less cold, which seems illogical) so I had no encouragement to linger when I got into town.

This morning involved:

  • A trip to the Post Office, to post 9 parcels (amazingly, I didn't need to queue, which I am quite sure would not be the case on Saturday morning!)
  • A trip to Boots, to pick up my repeat prescriptions to ensure that I don't run out of anything over christmas.
  • A trip to the vet, to ensure that Tybalt doesn't run out of his meds over christmas
  • A trip to the paper shop to pay my account off, and sort out what papers I want when.
  • A trip to Big Supermarket, initially just to pick up an extra pint of milk, and some chocolates to take into work, but in fact, as it turned out, also to pick up some booze and chocolates, mostly either as gifts or to take with me to share over christmas.

Then this afternoon I made a start on wrapping gifts for the people I shall be spending time with over christmas (unless I've forgotten something, all the ones which need to be posted, have now been posted) I'm starting to feel just a little bit festive..

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The past few days have been bitterly cold (at least by the standards of this country!)

Tuesday was horrible - lots of ice, and fog. However, Wednesday was very different -  I drove into work in sunshine, and as there was a very heavy hoar frost it was a drive through beautiful scenes.

I saw a group of roe deer in one of the fields - I haven't seen them much recently, so that cheered me up.

I had to drive across from one of our offices to another at lunch time, so I took a few minutes to stop and admire the scenery (particularly as the sun came out again) Despite it being mid day, very little of the frost had melted, and the trees looked as though it had snowed.

 It was almost lovely enough to make one forget just how brass-monkeys cold it was!
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I had a day off work today, and decided to go into Bath, to make a start on some Christmas shopping and some non-Christmas shopping which I've been avoiding, visit the Bath Christmas Market, and so on.

I went in by train, as parking is expensive in Bath, and driving there is no fun, especially at this time of year, with the Christmas Market on.

After my trip to London on Saturday I was expecting to see a fair amount of flooding, from the train, but there was more than I expected (I didn't have a window seat on Saturday morning, so my view out was restricted) The river (Avon) has burst its banks in many places  - I'd say pretty much everywhere outside the towns themselves. I feel sorry for the farmers, who will be losing grazing, and no doubt suffering damage to their fences and hedges, at the very least.
the river is usually over where the line of trees can be seen

As we drew into Bath I could see that the cricket Club's ground was completely covered in water - there appeared to be a pair of swans about where the wicket is generally found, and once I left the train and started into town I was able to see how high the river is even in town.

 Pulteney Bridge, and Pulteney Weir, usually looks like this:-
(Normal appearance of Pulteney Bridge and Weir)
Today, it looked rather different.
Pulteney Bridge and Weir
The contrast gives some idea of the sheer volume of extra water which is coming down the river at present. And this was taken on Monday morning - the really heavy rain was mainly Thursday and Saturday, so I think it was probably higher, a day or two ago..
More pictures here. (many taken from the train, so a bit blurry)
Once I had spent some time staring at the water, I got on with my shopping, which was moderately successful - I now have some new-and-dull clothes for work, and a few other bits and pieces I've been needing to get for a while. I have also done some christmas shopping, which is good (somehow having done a little bit makes the rest seem more manageable). But this whole shopping marlarky is exhausting. And I irrationally resent spending time and money buying clothes which are (mainly) for work - I suppose it feels a bit like a uniform.. And pyjamas, though important, are not very exciting. 

marjorie73: (Default)
(It was also a dark and stormy day, but that is less dramatic!)

Yesterday was incredibly wet - there have been a lot of floods, although (at least so far) they have mainly been west of me. ( BBC news have some pictures - both Bath and Bradford on Avon, are very close to me)

This morning, driving in to work, wasn't bad, although there was surface water in various places, but as the day wore on, it got a lot more windy and wet. At around quarter to five, one of my co-workers came in to say she thought I might want to know that one of the big bins in the carpark had just been blown across the car park and hi my car, and she was very sorry, but although she'd seen it, she hadn't been able to get to it to stop it. (I must say, I think this was probably a good thing. They're pretty big, metal bins and while I'd obviously rather my car didn't get hit, it's better than someone getting hurt. It looks as though there's a big scratch on the front of the car, but no real damage (it missed the headlights, at least) so I'm relatively sanguine about it (although that might change when I can see it in daylight!)

By the time I set of to drive home it was raining quite heavily and was very windy, and it was gusty wind, which I think is worse, as it's so unpredictable. My drive home is mainly along country roads, and there were a lot of small branches and other debris on the road. About half way home I found that the turning I usually take to get home was closed. (I suspect there was a tree down, blocking it. all that was visible were some blue flashing lights, and several very wet, cold looking police officers, trying to help people turn round, and I decided that it would not be helpful to start asking them questions about what the problem was.

I decided that it would not be a good idea to do what I'd usually do when that road is backed up, which would be to dive off and go through some of the smaller lanes, so I ended up having to take a rather long way home, and with the wind, and lightening, and rain, it really wasn't a restful drive.

I'm hoping that it will get better - not least because I am supposed to be getting a train up to London for the day on Saturday, and if it carries on like this half the track will be underwater (there are already several stretches of railway closed or on reduced services, although so far they are further towards Devon)!

I have to go to the far side of Bath tomorrow, for a meeting, so I think I shall have to leave extra time for the drive, in case of detours...

On the plus side, my house is wind-and weather-proof, and mercifully un-flooded (I had a flood 5 or 6 years ago, and although it was caused by improper drainage on the council's neighbouring land, and since they put in a new drain, it hasn't happened again, but I always get a bit stressed when we have a lot of heavy rain, just in case.)
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So, it appears that the country is about to grind to a halt, as it has been snowing. It has even been snowing a little bit here, although it hasn't been settling here as it's too wet, so thus far we mostly have sleet. What fun.
It's been very cold all week - every morning has been clear, with lots of frost (Oh, happy mornings, spent scraping ice off the car!)  It's  pretty. The last few days, I've woken up to a deep blue sky, a little before sunrise. The clear skies have meant Venus has been clearly visible, and you can see a lot of detail on the Moon even with the naked eye.

Then, driving to work there's been a whole week of bright, frosty mornings - sunlight on frost is so beautiful. The hedges are fiull of scarlet berries, and of Old Man's Beard, there are still some leaves on a few of the trees, so you get bright,, sunlit copper leaves, on stak black brasncheds against pefect duck-egg blue sky.

There are a lot of pheasant around, and I have also, almost every morning this week, seen a large bird of prey which I think must be a buzzard - it's too big to be a peregrine falcon.

And I remember that this really is a beautiful part of the world.

(It's still too cold, just now, though!)


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