Friday, March 31, 2006

The last of Lawrence - Promise

I thought I couldn't leave Lawrence without a picture of his birthpace - which is now the Lawrence Museum. When I first retired I was a part-time curator and, of course, what I didn't know about the old boy I had to find out. Or make up! My mother's father and her brothers were miners and, knowing their home in Stonebroom, I can say that, without doubt the Lawrence family were distinctly posh. Eventually the stairs and my back-problem defeated me and I had to retire from there too.

As you can see, they only had to emerge from their door and look left to have a smashing view. Much better than the dirt-track leading to the pit at Stonebroom. Across the dirt-track were the loos, of the long drop variety with torn up newspaper on a string for toilet paper. Ah! Those were the days. Say some.

I got going fairly early this morning because I wanted this picture before cars spoilt it and I also needed some 'fat balls' and 'niger seed' for the birds. It is becoming important to me to attract the goldfinches for long enough to get a picture. Many men have worse obsessions.

Brian Smith was in his Photographic Shop and I stopped for a chat. He more or less persuaded me to rejoin the photography club. Everybody is into digital now and they obtained a £5,000 lottery grant to buy a digital projector which is apparently ace-ace-pigs-inspace. I used to judge competitions for Brian and others on the circuit and I certainly don't want to be lured into doing that again. Things have moved on far to far for me to have any credibility in assessing the work of others. Serif delivered the Panorama programme which I had ordered. They are always efficient, reliable and quick. This afternoon I had a good look at it and did an experimental panorama of a back-garden view and got there in the end. If Serif programmes were to have a school report the comment would be 'good but difficult to understand'. But, more likely than not, it's me not the programmes.

A warmer day and it feels like Spring is really here. I was up very early - won't bore you with the time - but although the blackbird and the robin did their best the dawn-chorus isn't as awe-inspiring as it used to be.

It was very nice of Pete (Manxislander) to add such kind comments. I'd done a 'sticky' to remind me to email him at the weekend but I did it today instead. I must remember to recover the 'sticky' and close it or it will go off sometime tomorrow and scare me to death. They are very good though (they were a Madeline contribution) and I think I prefer them to their rival 'post it' notes. Good online chats with Ray (who has been grandaddying again) and Bob with whom I exchanged reminiscences of Mansfield and local characters. Best not to go into details because I'm absolutely sure that the laws of libel extend to Blogs.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Greasley Church - Still Lawrence Country

This is Greasley Church which we see on the left as we are driving home from Nottingham. It is a gorgeous view from the road. When you draw level with the churchyard which lies between the church and the road, there are some glorious mature beeches. You can just about see their tops in the picture and they must have been well know to DHL even if a tad smaller when he was around.

Talking pictures to Bob we discussed the Golden Section; which is often mis-identified by photographers as the rule of thirds. It is nearly that but not quite and I don't want to bore people with the details. One interesting aside though - we have some attractive wooden cheese-platters which Tracy admired so much we bought her two sets - she entertains more people than we do these days. She was saying how much she liked them and how popular they were proving. I explained to her that each one was a golden-mean rectangle, which is the most pleasing rectangular shape to the human eye and that the principle was well known to the Ancient Greeks and had been used in Art and Architecture ever since. I told her I would stop there rather be boring and she said "That was halfway interesting". Praise indeed !

It was necessary for me to get going this morning because I had promised to get Beryl some milk and bread. I took it up to her and made her a slice of toast. She dutifully nibbled half of it, because I was there; then asked me to put the other half out for the birds. Unfortunately she couldn't remember where the backdoor key is kept. At around 11am I left. Kath rang during the evening and told me that they went over at noon. By then Beryl had forgotten that I had been. She doesn't seem well enough to be looking after herself but the Hospitals are so keen to discharge people. OK Steve - That's enough about illness !!

Spent a good half hour this morning looking for my wallet. Eventually found it on the car-seat where it had slipped out of my tracksuit hip pocket. Yvonne warned me only the other day how insecure it looked. I must keep it in a jacket pocket or wear 'proper' trousers.

The Culture Show was very good again. A rare interview with Scott Walker and also with Brian Eno and Jarvis Cocker. There was some excellent stuff about modern architecture which I had to miss due to Kath's call. But I was recording it anyway for Yvonne, so I will catch the missing bits tomorrow.

D.H.Lawrence and Moorgreen Reservoir

".... the lake was still and blue. High overhead a heron floated. Opposite, the wood heaped on the hill, green and still."

D. H. Lawrence. Country of My Heart.

Although known amongst the older generation of Eastwood residents as 'him what wrote them mucky books' Lawrence was a superb writer about nature. Personally, I have always preferred his essays and poetry to his novels.

Yesterday, Wednesday, when the photograph was taken was I suppose, a typical April day, albeit only March. Some sun, some cloud, some showers !
I had tried to get pictures of Moorgreen and Greasley Church on my way back from dropping Yvonne at the tram in the morning. But it was overcast and, although I enjoy some image manipulation , I don't approve of fake skies imported from other pictures and things like that. In any case, they never look quite right. The light in other parts of the image gives the game away. So, in the afternoon when the sun came out I nipped back and took some more.

Yvonne is at Palmer's Green 'grannying' till Saturday morning. It's six weeks since she saw the London branch and she is really looking forward to it. Although she keeps clothes etc down there she has gone down laden as usual with treats for the girls, things like that, and even half a dozen eggs from our egg-man up the road because they have such a lovely flavour. Whenever we go past we like to see the chickens scratching about outside. No battery-cages for those young ladies. Often when one goes for eggs, he takes a box and collects them there and then. Before Yvonne takes them to London however, I clean them up abit because we don't want their 'rustic' appearance to put the children off fresh eggs.

All my activity resulted in swollen ankles again and I also had what used to be called a 'bilious bout' so I ended up in bed. I'd eaten some reheated stew but it had been frozen and was therefore (getting back to street-cries) only one-day-in-the-pot, effectively. But bearing in mind Steven's dictum about "too much about people being ill' I'll stop right there". We had heard from Kath that Beryl was being released from Hospital and that she was returning her to her own home. In the evening Beryl rang. Far from sounding forgetful she did, in fact, sound very with-it and more like her old self. I said I would go up in the morning to see her and take her some bread and milk and things. Wouldn't you have thought ................ ?

I still haven't uninstalled Norton and I'm sure Ray thinks I'm being 'cowardy custard' about it and I guess he's right. But the way I felt, I couldn't have uninstalled a BSA Bantam let alone a Norton.

A little news-snippet - Tom Jones had been given a Knighthood. He deserves it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Grandma's sampler. Wet day

Carrying on with the theme of family history I was keen to include this picture of my gran's sampler. It was Yvonne's idea to include it. And a jolly good idea it was too ! Gran's maiden-name, as is obvious from the sampler, was Wood and she did this when she was eleven. Her father was a carpenter in the village of Denstone and made the hall-table which we are fortunate enough to still have.

Sorry for the bit of glare in the top left of the picture but you can see everything in reasonable detail.

John received his ecard and I rang him to wish him Happy Birthday. Mobile to mobile because he was at work and as he wanted to chat I ran my phone right out of credit ! Not to worry it was much more important to chat to my eldest son. He emailed me a picture of his Merc sportscar -

I asked him if was having a mid-life crisis? and he said that, as he was still happily married, he and Yvonne would have a mid-life crisis together and enjoy the car ! Good luck to them both. My daughter-in-law is also Yvonne.

Pretty wet and windy again today and we have daffodils blooming all over the garden. It only seems a few days since I was complaining that we hadn't any.

We had quite a busy day. I had my blood-test, Yvonne had a hair appointment, then we went to Ikea and decided to have lunch. Their restaurant is a real 'come-on' for the store. We had a main course each, a delicious fancy for puds and 2 mugs of coffee each. Total cost for the two of us £7.85p. After that the shopping - Lidl followed by Morrisons. When we got home I was completely done for. No stamina anymore. I had said to Ray that I was going to follow his clear guide to uninstalling Norton in safe-mode today but I couldn't uninstall a BSA Bantam let alone a Norton. It will just have to wait.

Brian Sewell's Grand Tour was on TV (Channel 5 if you are lucky enough to receive it) and, yet again, we thought it great. He is as camp as a 'nine bob note' as we used to say, but quite charming and he really knows his stuff. Excellent television. Just a little p.s. we have discovered Soya & Linseed bread. It makes first-rate toast and I had 2 slices with Chicken & Tarragon pate for tea.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Daffodils - but stormy

Although this picture does show that we have finally got daffodils blooming it is also an experiment. It isn't a good picture - but it is supposed to look like a panorama. All it is, is the original image cropped and then stretched with the intention of it fitting across the top of the Blog like a banner. I cribbed the idea from Manxislander who used a much more exotic image i.e the Pier at Ramsey at sunset !

Anyway, back to Brinsley and stormy weather. Much warmer - it reached 13c by lunchtime but now, 7.30pm, it is stormy. Black storm clouds are racing across the sky and when I went over the lawn to check the bird-feeders it was squelch, squelch, squelch. It's not possible to do anything in the garden yet - the soil would just become compacted.

I went up into the loft this afternoon to put Yvonne's case away (after her sleep-over) because she doesn't like to go up because she has this horror of rodents. About 3 years ago we had mice up there. I know it sounds strange but they were making their way up the cavity-wall and breeding in our comfy boarded loft. We had to get a builder to block the vent which was their access point and then I polished them off with poison.

Today was going to be the day I uninstalled Norton and installed AVG. I could install AVG no problem but, like so many before me, I'm having a helluva job with uninstalling Norton. I won't 'bore the pants off' people by a blow-by-blow account. Ray has emailed me a clear list of how to do it and I'll try again tomorrow. I had fun in My Pictures and Picasa dealing with current pics and Y's mother's day flower arrangement. Moving things about in pictures and layers etc., don't meet with my approval but little improvements like cropping, colour-saturation etc. can add such a lot and I managed to produce a nice print for Y's journal (hard-copy, of course).

For those who don't know Picasa, it's a Google programme and like the search-engine has an 'I'm feeling lucky' button. It works wonders ! It reaches better improvement-decisions than most hobby manipulators. You can do such much with it - even straighten your pics if the verticals are dodgy, gmail pics direct from the programme. Yet another ace google freebie. I'd better stop there or Mr. Gates will owe me money !! Just exchanged messages with Ray and confirmed that the storm-clouds are heading due North. They should reach him in about an hour. If the scouts are not already there Ha Ha !

I sent John a Jacquie Lawrence ecard for tomorrow. No idea what shift he is on, but he will get it eventually.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mother's Day - Bright start - Rain later

I bought this milk-jug cover in the oldfashioned Haberdashery shop in Eastwood. Not seen one in years. My grandma used to insist on one over her milk-jug, on her breakfast tray which my mum took slavishly up to her room each morning ! She also had an oval silver-dish with a domed lid in which her rasher of bacon went. It's ages since I've seen one of those to.

My grandma had style! She was born in 1867 and, a great link with the past which I treasure, told me of her grandad telling her - about the bonfires on Ashbourne Green after The Battle of Trafalgar. I suppose they were 'beacons' rather than 'bonfires' but a minor point.

A lovely morning to start with, after the clouds had started to break up, but then by afternoon it was raining and still is. The temperature has been up as far as 15C and quite a lot of daffodils have decided to bloom. Yvonne had a super Mother's Day and the kids took her and Val (Lisa's mum) to a recommended restaurant at Redmile. Apparently the meal was fine although Tracy seemed a little undecided about the main-course. I went over to Sherwood to collect Yvonne around tea-time, had loads of cups of tea and a few fancies. Lisa's Dad, John, was very unsteady on his feet but very game. I had a smashing half-hour 'webchat' with Steven and promised to send him Walagata and Belarc both of which are new to him. A 'webchat' sounds like a dainty little marsh-bird don't you think? Yvonne came home armed with the statutory floral display, which included stocks, and the inside of the car smelt uncharacteristically fresh! It's 10yrs since my mum died and 3 years since Yvonne's.

Had a nice chat with David and they are all OK. And there was a pleasant post, from 'Madeline' on WUforum, saying she didn't find my Blog boring. I think I now have at least 4 readers, apart from family. Madeline is an experienced WUforum-hand and really knows her way around IT matters. She is a great help to us 'learners' and to many who are far from novices.

David is going to try and sort out my 'working offline' request. He say that I could simply 'save' a site as a document to read at leisure. But, say I did 'front page' with all it's links I could just read it 'offline'. It would not update itself, as I understand it would if I learnt about 'synchronise' etc. I shall get there because I think Brian Owen knows how to do it to. With my Wi-Fi broadband, it's difficult to kitchen-test solutions because in order to get 'offline' I have to go and disconnect the modem and the router and everything. Which is a 'faff' and involves half-crawling under the sideboard. I don't like asking Yvonne all the time because it's no more pleasant for her. Hey Nonny Nonny No !

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Much warmer - Planet Earth day

Wonderful ! Whatever the problem was, Google have fixed it. I uploaded the Piranhas by the 'Browse' rather than the 'URL' method and the photo uploaded straightaway, without any fuss.

This photo, from the Planet Earth website was taken by Peter Scoones and what a cracker! The camera-work throughout the series has been phenomenal. We watch the Saturday repeat because the time suits us better.

I think 'browse' is a better method, because, being in My Pictures rather than being hosted by Walagata ,there is less risk of my deleting it and losing it like I did yesterday. If I'd thought about it I would have realised that they only 'host' images for you, so you can get a URL and that once you delete them at their end the images vanish from whatever you've used them in.

Tracy was delayed due to Richard's head injury problem and having to go to QMC. Fortunately he was not admitted and she arrived just before 8pm. She had to have her meal reheated in the microwave. She was kind enough to pronounce it delicious but always says the right things! Then just after 9pm she took her mum back to Sherwood for a sleep-over prior to Mother's Day. Raining quite heavily by now and the day had started off so full of promise. 12C and blue sky. Still it is March only and we've got April showers to come. Many more bulbs open today. Yvonne is very good with bulbs and the different varieties of crocus have been a picture. Bob is coming with me to Holbeach after all, which will be great, and such a relief to have a co-driver. I sent him a 'link' to Elloe Lodge's website and I also researched wi-fi hotspots for use while we are there. One of the most attractive is the Springfield Shopping Village which is about 6 miles away. Yvonne and I know the place pretty well.

I took this photograph when we were there in June last year. We had gone on a Mansfield National Trust Coach Trip and it was one of the hottest days so far. 90+F and a very cramped coach, with Yvonne having a seat just over the engine - poor girl ! But we had a super day-out and really enjoyed it. They are a very nice group and we fully intend to remain active members of the Branch even after we've moved.

I had a smashing email from David this morning - Sky on the PC and on the internet upstairs, David downstairs on the laptop, Helen on the phone and a spare Wanadoo line going begging. If we can get Brooke on that they will all be ITing !

It's probably tempting providence but no computer problems today. Gmail working well for a start.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A picture I grew up with

I grew up with this picture on the sitting-room wall of my boyhood home in Ashbourne. A few weeks ago I noticed that it had a very 'dingy' appearance and I decided to take it out of its frame, scan it and brighten it a little. It required almost no manipulation; the problem being that over all those years the glass had darkened. When I actually examined the piece of card I found that it was a reproduction of a painting (amazing ain't it?) used to advertise Offler's beer. The scanned print is now in front and the original at the rear.

A much warmer and wetter day. Things will soon start growing. Apparently many daffodil-festivals have been cancelled due to the lack of daffodils. When John was born (28th March) it was a toss-up whether or not a daffodil in the garden flowered before he arrived. The daffodil won but only by 24hrs; so late daffs are nothing new.

Much of my day has been spent trying to download some sprites from Ray, for use in WisePixel etc. Got there in the end but I have such a lot to learn. I had an email from Pete (Manxislander) telling me that his picture of the Pier at Ramsey, which I had thought was a panorama, in fact wasn't. He had manipulated it to shape. It cetainly fooled me!!

I had a nap in the afternoon, again, but I had been up very early i.e. shower-before-5am sort of early. Exchanged emails with Bob and his, and my, gmail problems seem to have sorted themselves. These things mostly do. Even my 'lead-picture' was fairly painless today. One does have to patient with Blogger though. I'm only talking seconds-rather-than-milliseconds. But it does seem slow. It would be unlike Google to leave a problem hanging about for long; they are far too canny for that.

My earlier quote, of the streetcry about stew 'seven days in the pot' reminded Bob of a similar one -'pease pudding hot / pease pudding cold / pease pudding in the pot / nine days old.' It's a wonder they didn't die of food-poisoning. Maybe lots of them did ! It might work out OK for Bob to join me on my Holbeach break - we shall just have to wait and see.

In Iraq the 74yr old hostage Norman Kember has been freed by coalition forces, led by the SAS. Good for them.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Beautiful morning - crisp and blue

At last! I've got my Great Northern Basin picture successfully published. It should have gone in yesterday but resisted all attempts. Everyone is still having problems uploading photographs and I dealt with it first thing this morning. The system favours the url method of uploading, apparently because the image is already being hosted elswhere, which is quicker than a straight download.

The Great Northern is a pub by the canal and the basin, at Langley Mill, Notts is just to the left of it. All you have to do to see this view is to park at the side of the road and peep over the bridge. We pass it a couple of times a week (either en route to Lidl or Aldi) and it is rather beautiful. All to often we ignore lovely views on our own doorsteps. If I was going to print it A4 I would get rid of the telephone wires I think. But as a blog illustration, its not worth the faff.

I didn't see the goldfinches this morning and when I went out to see to the 'feeders' and the water, I realised why. There wasn't a single ceonothus seed head left. They had polished off the lot. Good luck to them. Had a very nice day. Took Yvonne to the tram because it is Burton Joyce day and she is on granny-duty. I taxed the car and then Bob arrived for lunch. I served the Minestrone with rolls (which Bob had 2 bowls of and liked it) followed by a cheese-board.. Then we messed about on the laptop, trying to sort out what this default font is? On my blog - because this font I am writing in is a serif-font but the version published in my actual blog is a sans-serif. Still I am only a learner, and someone will know the answer.

When I got back with Yvonne she didn't seem too tired and anyway, it's rest-day tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Problems with Internet

A lovely sunny day and much warmer, reaching 5C. I'm going to cut it short today because it seems there are problems with Blogger and downloading pictures. Loads of angry posts on the blogger help forum. One chap said succintly "It's OK it being free but not much good if it doesn't work" and he went on to make the point that the time he'd spent trying to publish to his Blog that it had cost HIM money.

Had a lovely photograph of the Great Northern Basin with all the narrow-boats. It will have to wait.

Substantial internet and email problems but eventually I managed to get hold of Ray via gandy.marsden and he says lots of people having probs and it could be Ntl. I'll have one more try with the picture and then give up.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Goldfinch on Ceonothus

The start of the day was very cold again, 2c, will it ever get warm? It always has done before !!

Around 7am I was looking out of my bedroom window and saw 2 goldfinches on the ceonothus. They are the first we have had this year.

The strange looking thing in picture 1 is a ceonothus seed heed and when the birds peck at them they open out to about 4 times that size and are full of fluffy seed material. Which I am sure is great fun, if you are a gold finch.

Picture 2 is just to show how easy it is to root things in plain water on a cold kitchen window sill even as early in the season as this. The plant in the stem glass, with such healthy roots forming. is a Fuschia and I had only nipped the cutting out of another rooted-cutting because it was getting 'leggy'.

After lunch we decided on a little trip to Arnold and had a great time. We didn't need anything much. Some milk, I think, and sausages - to see what Rowbothams the Butchers are like. We went our separate ways for an hour and I had a good mooch in the charity shops - which I love and Yvonne hates. There is a super semi-remaindered book shop on the main street and I weakened and bought a Humorous Quotations Dictionary. I was won-over by the fact that it contained the immortal "He would say that wouldn't he?" - Mandy Rice Davies quote. Plus lots of P.J. O'Rourke, Woody Allen, W.C Fields etc.....

Meeting up finally in the Asda cafeteria. Rather rough but clean I suppose. Then we decided against further house-hunting and drove home. Had trouble with my blog again. It was very reluctant to upload the pictures and I kept trying, clicking, starting again etc., only to find eventually that I had a blog-page with loads of excess pictures thereon which I don't know how to delete. I shall have to find out! Because in the end I had to ditch it and start afresh.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cold again - but a trip to Nottingham

First off Yvonne checked which Ward Beryl was currently in and we decided to drive to QMC and take a chance on finding somewhere to park. It only took us less than half an hour to get there and we found a disabled spot straight away. Eventually we found the Ward, that place is a nightmare; she was a bit brighter but still frail. Kate was there which was nice and when Beryl is well enough to be released, Kate is going to take her to live with her in Cirencester. A marvellous solution and Beryl seemed quite agreeable. Kate lives in this lovely big house wth a courtyard and also has a bungalow by the sea. Who could argue with such an offer!

We then drove into Nottingham and again were real lucky and found a spot at the top of St.Peter's Gate (see picture 2) - Waterstones is about my favourite place in Nottingham but I couldn't justify nipping in today. I would only have bought another book and I've got loads to read at the moment. So I took a picture instead. In a series of short stages I managed it onto Parliament Street and bought some lithium batteries from The Battery Man for the bathroom -scales. Mind you, it's been a relief having them out of action. Then to Cappocis for lunch. We both arrived literally at the same moment. Yvonne had been down to Bromley House to return some books and knew that my jobs would take me a long time. Very good meals - I won't bore you today with the details - and it is such a handy spot. Then Yvonne shot off to get something from Early Learning and I made my way slowly back to St Peters Gate. Passed the Market Square which is being completely revamped, hence photo. 1. (I did a little manipulation on both and realise that I've managed to make them look as if taken on different days - I must be more careful in future). And I saw a real policeman, a tall one, who looked just right for central. I introduced myself and we had a good chunter about community support officers and the like, who seem to do little more than walk about in twos chatting to each other, oblivious to their surroundings.

From there to the Railway Station to get Yvonne's ticket for London next week. A young chap who has served her before did the necessary - £10.60p return! Admittedly, with her senior rail card - but you certainly couldn't do it in a car for that.

Then to the Radford Boulevard Complex because we needed things from Aldi (groceries) Maplins (an Air Duster to clean my keyboard) and Dunelm Mills (flannels). In Aldi I saw Peter Brown who was a young policeman on my section at Canning Circus way back in the 70s. It used to be a standing joke that whenever anyone saw him they used to say "Its Peter Brown!" I remembered and shouted it across an aisle in Aldi. He remembered my name too and we had a good long chat. He is well and truly retired but was head-hunted for a 'community type' job which he is still doing.

Got home and slumped. It was the Hospital visiting that really did for me. Poor Beryl being stuck in a ward with alzheimars patients in it, because she is still so bright and with-it. So depressing.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

More Nature programmes

We watched Planet Earth last night, about Mountains, and I wanted to include this image of the European Alps. Obviously not a photograph of mine and it was taken by Michael Keelam, his identity is bottom left but too small to see on this version. I'm not breaching his copyright because you are invited on their website to use the images as 'desktop' or 'wallpaper' and there are some lovely screensavers too.

A super programme and David Attenborough can still cut the mustard.

Tonight we watched a nice little piece about a Hebridean Island in the spring followed immediately by Michael Portillo going back to his spanish roots . Both were very interesting and in the Portillo prog we saw a rare Lynx.

I had less trouble with blogging the picture today mainly because I didn't even try 'Blog This' but went straight to uploading it to Walagata, getting a URL and then using the Upload image procedure. Much easier ! Plus, placing it upper left and 'wrapping' the text was pretty straightforward. We live and learn.

No exciting food today - scampi, chips, mushy peas and lashings of tartare sauce is all. Followed by bread & butter pudding from Morrisons. Hardly any kitchen time at all. Not that I mind that - I really do love cooking, it's so relaxing. I was up very early but had an afternoon nap to catch up. It's good being retired. Nice google talks to Ray and had some smashing email exchanges with Bob who remains as witty as ever. He is very taken with my new Military Quotations dictionary from Telegraph books. I'm not at all interested in military history but there are quotes from people as diverse as Xenophon and Crazy Horse. All in all it spans 4,000 years. I'm ashamed to admit that I'm reading it in the loo which causes me to spend more time in there than I should. My Dad always said that it caused piles.

Nice chat with David and I'm pleased that they are all 4 in good health. They have got rid of their old sofas and bought new ones at auction, AND, outed a carpet and fitted a laminate floor! Quick work. I must ring John in the next couple of days and see how they are. I half-expected him to ring this morning but you never know what shift he is on.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A better day but still cold

Hurrah! The picture has finally appeared. Had to put it in Walagata - get a URL and load it !

The reason for the daffodils on the sideboard is a determination by one means or another to bring on the spring. According to Bob the blue crocuses featured yesterday look remarkably like some purple crocuses that Sandra has been trying to get rid of for years. I assured him that ours are blue and very small and delicate not a bit like the purple big ones that I think he means. A nature comment - I've noticed, over time, that the birds seem to attack either blue/purple or yellow crocuses on alternate years and 2006 is a yellow-year !

We finished off the chicken-casserole and, as often seems to be the case, it tasted even better today. Dishes seem to mature overnight. I once heard somewhere that in Victorian England street-traders used to hawk stew around with the street-cry 'seven days in the pot'. With it we had the usual fresh veg. and mashed potatoes with chopped basil mashed in as an experiment. Although the basil sounds unusual it does actually go rather well. And I've got a glut of basil. It's a variety called 'Minette' and has very small leaves with a very subtle flavour. Very easy to root from cuttings and also easy from seed.

The highlight of the evening was Planet Earth which yet again was superb. This week it was mountains and there was some marvellous footage. Pictures of snow-leopards hunting which apparently were unique. The diaries at the end, explaining the procedures were fascinating.

I sent David the explanation to his 'Mind Reader'. Not my find I hasten to add but Ray's. Exchanged emails with Bob who I thought had sent me some pictures via Picasa which hadn't arrived. But he hadn't sent any - I don't know how I made the mistake. I fixed my problems with Picasa by uninstalling it. Checking that it had gone and then downloading a 'fresh one'. A brutal solution but it worked and the duplicated pictures, the wrong picture appearing when clicked, seem to hae been solved. But I DID have problems with 'Blog this' and the daffodil picture. I went on the Blogger forum asking for solutions to the probs and received a very succint reply from one guy who just said "Happens all the time". If I continue to have Blogger trouble I might try an alternative programme. Not just yet though.

Yvonne rang some agents to send details of houses which I hadn't been able to track down on the net. I had a nice PM from Pete (Manxislander) who had been so encouraging about my blog I replied and we discussed digital photography and that we are both fans of straightforward cameras that simply do the job.

Friday 17th March - Blue crocuses at last

Not a bad day at all. We decided on a Rest Day. Unfortunately I had to spend hours messing about with the computer which had developed all sorts of glitches. I couldn't print, had loads of serious sounding error messages including a 'export1exe ' warning which looked worryingly like a virus. In the end I found that the lead to my printer which was connected via a cheap freebie hub was insecure in the socket causing a bad connection. I changed it and, I hope, seem to have solved the problem.

Picasa isn't working right either. I selected this picture only to find that when I blogged it, I'd got a picture of a sparrow in the bird-bath. Let us hope that the prob is at their end not mine. In the end I had to import it from My Pictures and start again. I'll probably go on the Picasa forum tomorrow and see if others are having similar problems. One sign of Spring, apart from blue crocuses, is that the 'morning chorus, is strengthening. I can recognise robins and blackbirds but not the others. Last year the BBC let you download little samples of each common-bird's song but I didn't memorise them.

David sent me a link to an interesting 'mind reader' site. You work out a number, look at a symbol next to it, on a chart, click on a crystal ball and lo-and-behold your symbol appears. Ray knows how it works (mathematics) and others on the WUforum have worked it out too. I think I understand the maths but how it knows which symbol you have been looking at, eludes me. David didn't comment on the 'blog' but it has been pointed out by a good friend that I was including too much personal detail. And alth0ugh my 'settings' don't allow the blog to be 'listed' and in theory only accessible to people to whom I have given the address, Steve says that a determined computer person wouldn't have much trouble finding it. I therefore reviewed all my 'blog' posts right back to the start, fortunately not that difficult, and decided that the point was well made. Blogger makes editing a doddle, so I went through each post and amended it accordingly. The last thing I want to do is give cause for concern.

The weather is still very cold with the temperature hovering between below freezing and about 4C but it isn't unpleasant. Once it gets to around 10C I need to get out in the garden. Yvonne braved it during the afternoon to do some much-needed cutting back (one of her favourite garden jobs) and quite enjoyed the fresh air.

Tracy is still working very hard and very long hours but she says that at the weekend when she is alone in the office, she can really get on with things. She is coming over for a meal soon and has opted for sausage and mash, with onion sauce. Not lamb which she usually picks. Mind you, everyone waxes poetic over my onion sauce. For us today I made a chicken-casserole which will do for tomorrow as well. It was a success. I used plenty of tarragon - I had to eke out my own fresh, from my window-sill pot, with dried. Tarragon and chicken are made for each other, like tomato and basil (which I have loads of, on the window-sill again). Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Frosty mornings. Ungoogled

Bob said re the Newark trip that he thought what a good photo I'd taken. Then reading on he discovered it was one I'd googled. At least I didn't try to decieve.

This one is one of mine - honest. And I'm quite proud of it because I did EV compensation of +1 stop, to prevent the brightness of the sky causing the foreground to be underexposed. I'd been discussing this very topic with Bob, but of course, with image-manipulation now being so easy, it's hardly worth the 'faff'.

When I picked Yvonne up from Burton Joyce I saw Steven and he said he liked the 'blog' but - everyone seemed to be ill all the time !! Point taken. I'm going to go-on less about people's aches and pains. It's an old-persons' trait anyway and we must try to avoid those at all costs. It was good to be driving back in the daylight. Joan's Chris's idea that 'it gets lighter by 20 minutes a week' is a good adage and noticeably true.

A fellow WUforum member ' Manxislander', real name Pete, posted some very encouraging comments about my 'blog' in response to my post on the subject. But, compared to his, mine has still got very clean L plates on. He is, according to Ray, a lifeboat man among lots of other things and his blog is superb. The photographs are quite excellent and what he has to say is very interesting too.

Just getting back to Steve for a 'mo' he says that his NTL address won't allow him to email my gmail address. Ray said NTL does strange things like that. But NTL are my ISP too so it's odd that they block one of their own so to speak. 'Spose it could be gmail because both mine and Bob's have been playing up.

Final foodie comment - we had Minestrone soup again which I had made from my Marks & Spencer Soup book and it is a grand recipe. Orange & Red pepper, garlic. red onion, tin of borlotti beans, tin of chopped tomatoes, celery stick, shredded green cabbage, vermicelli, and a few ribbons of v.thin ham - supposed to be parma but who cares. And stock of course and fresh parsley which I have overwintering in a nearby tub. Also supposed to be garnished with grated Parmesan but Y and I both think it makes it smell of sick - so we leave that bit out. Plus of course some part-baked baguettes finished off in the oven.

I really would like to discover what this default font is so that when I do a page in Word to blog later I know what font to set - so the age matches. But no-one yet has identified it. Tomorrow I might go on the Blogger help forum - somebody there is bound to know. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

This is by way of an experiment

This is by way of an experiment. I have installed ‘Blogger for Word’ and the appropriate ‘buttons’ have appeared at the top of the page. The idea is that you can prepare a page in Word, even if offline, and then blog it at your leisure. The picture is also an experiment. I shall be interested to see where it puts it, what size, and whether or not it is animated. Will it leave the font as is, or convert it to its default? We shall see !!

Earlier in the day I had downloaded ‘bubblesnaps’ which enables you to add speech-bubbles to pictures. I sent Steve one, and Tracy and they thought they were great fun. Steve sent me one back. I also sent examples to Bob and Ray. Ray can already do this sort of thing anyway, but ‘bubblesnaps’ seems so simple for we novices. Or should it be us novices. Bob thought it was not for him even though I thought they would be a good vehicle for his wit and humour.

My ankles were in a state again, rather like ‘moon-boots’ and Yvonne recommended a day in bed. And they certainly have gone down. As I told Ray – with a nice cup of coffee, my ‘lappy’ and my bedroom window open because of the warmer day – life doesn’t seem too bad. Yvonne has written Jill and given her my blog-address. She is a keen blogger, with her knitting interest. OK – here goes !

Well - Yes it 'published' OK but without the picture. That is worth remembering. It retained the font it was written in and I learnt that Comic Sans 14pt is a little too big. Other than that, fine, and a useful tool, I had to manually introduce the picture, but that also was a lesson learnt. Easy to follow from Edit toolbar.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A trip to Newark

Bitterly cold start to the day again - minus 2C but with a wind and we had more snow. We were both up quite early. I had my shower before the heating came on at 6am -perhaps not a wise move! My - aren't we all getting 'nesh' in the 21st century? Even though Yvonne was a little later she said she had woken up feeling cold in bed.

I took the car in for its MOT around 8.10am and by 10.30am I had it back - passed ! The only comment was that by next service it will probably need 2 new front tyres. It is still on the orginal tyres from when we had it, so we can't grumble. It really is a good car and we've no wish to change it. For lunch we had sausage and mash with onion gravy (David's easy recipe) and we enjoyed it.

Tuesday is a Karen day so I had moved my 'lappy' and books out of the my bedroom so she didn't have to work round things. We shall miss her when we move because she is like the proverbial 'breath of fresh air'. Yvonne set her on when I was so ill. Yvonne's reasoning was that, if anthing happened to her, Karen would 'keep a eye on me' and do me abit of washing, shopping etc. But I'm fine now! We shall miss her when we move but we are planing to do more ourselves and perhaps ask Karen if she would like to come over for a day a month and bottom things.

In the afternoon we both felt a bit bored so decided on a trip to Newark. See castle above. Again, I googled for the picture but I can't mention the author of the photo because none was given, just a web reference '' Main purpose of the trip was a visit to Waitrose and it is a smashing shop. Such lovely stuff and not as expensive as you would expect. I obtained some extremely smelly Irish cheese and a Dickinson&Morris porkpie (tiny but destined for my tomorrow's breakfast. Yvonne bought some lady's things and some 'lady's things for the girls'.

We came home via the A52 and Gunthorpe Bridge for a change from our normal route and when we arrived we had clocked 61 miles and my leg really 'socked'. Never mind 'eh? It was worth it, to know I can still do things like that. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 13, 2006

A trip to the 'Pictures' to see Syriana

We went to our favourite cinema Cineworld just opposite the Royal Centre and in a super spot. The film we saw was Syriana, starring and co-produced and directed by George Clooney who played the part of a veteran CIA man in the Gulf. A very convoluted story which, at times, both of us had difficulty keeping track of. But reading the reviews reassured us that we were not alone.

Full of action though and you were left wondering quite why America in general and the 'oil barons' in particular have to be so corrupt and willing to 'ride roughshod' over the rest of the world. The parts of a teenage suicide-bomber and the charismatic muslim cleric who recruits him, were so well acted, and of course, well written, that you were compelled to be sympathetic to their position. The film was very violent and merited its 15+ grading.

We did some of our favourite things. Tram from Phoenix Park to Theatre Royal - Capoccis for toasted teacake and coffee. Sandwiches, and a fruit drink from the Spar shop, naughtily consumed in the Cinema. And then tram (for which we only had to wait 1 minute) back to Phoenix Park and grocery shopping in the big Morrisons at Bulwell, and home for tea.

A very cold day again with the temperature barely rising above freezing. Surely we must eventually have a 10C+ day. Not heard from Ray since first thing this morning. I know he was due to go to the Doctors again. I hope he is OK.

Good fun emails with friends about photography and as I said, one of the best photographers I ever knew took all of his good stuff on a cheap Canon Sureshot. His pictures sold like the proverbial hot-cakes. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Back to winter. But Siskins at the bird-feeders

Funny sort of day. Yesterday I thought Spring was coming but today it has been bitterly cold. Hardly got above freezing all day and it has snowed quite a lot. I keep taking disks of ice out of the bird-bath and putting fresh water in and the frozen disks are still on the soil where I've put them previously.

It was nice to see siskins at the feeders. I must rush to acknowledge that the author of the photograph is Richard Burkmar (2004) all I did was to 'google' for it. Re copyright. I did check and, at the bottom of his page, he says he has no objection to people using his images for non-commercial purposes. Such a cheerful picture. At first I didn't like the expanse of blue to the right but it's grown on me.

Had a nice chat to David this morning and, fortunately, both he and Brooke have recovered from their bouts of winter-vomiting bug. We discussed 'blogs' 'websites' and allied matter and I was trying to pick his brains about 'reading webpages offline'. He is going to email me some stuff. At Carphone Warehouse during the week I investigated using my mobile as a modem for my laptop when on holiday. Possible, but research tells me it would cost me 75p a minute while online. When I've used Wi-Fi hotspots the most I've paid is £4.50 an hour.

We are planning to see 'Syriana' at the cinema tomorrow. It is well reviewed and, of course Yvonne has a soft-spot for George Clooney. Still, I've got a soft-spot for Julia Roberts. Pity she's not in it ! Mind you the last film we saw her in was 'Closer' and that was appalling. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A little sunshine at long last

Wouldn't be so bold as to say that 'spring is on its way' but we did at least have a couple of hours of sunshine and it reminded me that I ought to scrub out the bird-bath. Still very cold though - just 2c as I write and falling but, in the photograph you can see a couple of purple crocuses which are always later than the yellow ones.

For lunch we had a gammon joint and roast winter veg (Delia's Recipe) And, like all of Delia's recipes, it was a great success. It's not the first time I've cooked it and it has always worked. Delia gives certain veg. sweet potato, celeriac, butternut squash, swede etc., but, as is Delia's wont finishes up by saying these are not fixed and to use whatever you have around. For tea I did the pancakes which we have been promising ourselves since Shrove Tuesday. Better late than never.

On the 'telly' we watched Planet Earth, narrated by David Attenborough, and it was outstanding. We had the full monty - elephants with babies, king penguins, caribboo migrating, birds of paradise, and some first ever footage of hunting dogs hunting and the strategies they use. Some pictures were taken with a high-tech camera in a helicopter and at the end of the programme was a 'diary' sequence showing the camera crews in action. V. Good and we will certainly watch next week's edition. Completely different from last night's HandsonNature where all the presenters were way over the top, without any reason to be.

Bob was quite like the old Bob today. He Picasa-ed me some photos which were both good and amusing. Got hold of Ray but only briefly - probably speak in more depth tomorrow. Walked round to the paper shop for some Buttercup Syrup because I'm plagued with a cough, and, my ankles are swollen again - but apart from that........... Spoke to Sue and had a good chat to Peter about his drive alterations. All in all a good day. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 10, 2006

Not a good day - too many people ill

Went to see Beryl in Hospital. Not as bad as we expected but two strokes at 84 is bad news! She hasn't lost speech or anything like that but she was very confused and held Yvonne's hand tightly throughout our visit. Marion and Kath were both there and I suppose, as hospital visiting goes, it wasn't too bad. It tired me out though. We drove into town, parked in a disabled spot opposite the Library, and caught a bus on Angel Row which went right into QMC forecourt. But, would you believe it, when we reached QMC there were loads of empty disabled spaces. You can't rely on it though.

When we got back to Angel Row we went down to Waterstones and I bought a 'blogging' book, fortunately, about Blogger, which is what I'm on and it looks like a good read. Yvonne bought the cutest little book about Barcelona for Tracy who is going there soon.

Ray still isn't very well. Also his pal Caroline (Hello_There) is poorly now. Her PC has taken ill too and Rays TFT monitor has packed up and he has had to order another one from PC World.

Oh deary, deary me !! Lets hope tomorrow is a bright spring day then everybody will feel better.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Reminders to 'defragment'

I 'posted' this image on my WebUser forum in Open Forum because these mugs of ours always remind me that my hard disk might need 'defragmenting'. And I thought the likeness would amuse people.

The weather is slightly better, much warmer and an occasional glimpse of the sun. Crocuses all over the place and we have One daffodil but there is a feeling that spring is just around the corner because although there aren't any leaves yet the branches and twigs seem to have stiffened and are 'perky' as Joan puts it.

No word about Ray. I shall be relieved when I hear something. But, as Yvonne points out, he could be days with tests and being assessed etc.. Not heard anything about Beryl either. Yvonne is going to ring the Hospital tomorrow with a view to us visiting. It is now light enough in the evenings for us to come the pretty route back from Burton Joyce and although it's past lighting-up time when we arrive back around 6.15pm it's such an improvement on the really dark days of mid-winter.

Exchanged emails with Bob, who sent a copy of his friend Roy's Clipstone headstocks picture. When I thought it was Bob's I took the liberty of getting some detail in the foreground (which was underexposed) but apparently Roy prefers it 'gloomy'. Bob would rather hold back on our Lincolnshire trip until his 'hedge dispute' is finalised, for the benefit of his peace of mind. Quite understandable, but it could take ages yet. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Good trip to Bob's

Pretty awful day as far as weather goes. Temperature up to 8C but it rained almost all day, somewhere between heavy and drizzle.

Set off around 10.30am and went to Ollerton Netto, on my way to Bob's, and picked up some bargains i.e Carte Noir ground coffee at 99p a pack, a pack of 3 jars of Princes salmon pate for 67p and other bits and bobs.

Arrived Bob's just after noon and we went almost straight away to the new restaurant on the island. Called The Big Fish and obviously a franchise, with overtones of Little Chef and Crest Hotels. Anyway, the food was super. I had cod, Bob had hake, with all the trimmings and very reasonably priced. I would be delighted to go there again. Bob agreed to my idea of the little holiday at Holbeach, with him acting as back-up driver. We obviously thought it best to wait for better weather and maybe the bulbs to be further on and then we could enjoy Spalding as well as the more obvious places of KingsLynn, Hunstanton etc.... I will ring the Vaisey's to make a preliminary check.

Got home just before 4.30pm and Yvonne had thoroughly enjoyed her day of 'space' I know how she feels because I often have the house to myself on Thursdays and when she goes down to London. We know now that Beryl is in QMC but no news at all about Ray. Hello_There replied to my PM and Louise had already emailed her as Caroline; probably thinking that Hello_There was someone different. No matter, we are in touch which is what matters. Don't know if David and Brooke are still suffering - I'll ring tomorrow.

7th March - Not a nice day

Completely different day weather-wise. No clear blue sky today but heavy drizzle and we were lucky to have had our little walk yesterday. Also, bad news - I learnt, via an email from his daughter, that Ray has been admitted to Hospital. She doesn't say 'what with' but I've asked her to keep me informed. Plus, of course, Beryl in Hospital with a stroke and we don't know much about that either. David and Brooke though seem a bit better.

In the evening we went to Mansfield National Trust for the monthly meeting and heard a lecture about Belvoir Castle (history and tour). Interesting and Yvonne enjoyed it a lot. I thought it was good, but suffered from having no slides; without which peoples attention was flagging and there were a few 'nodding'. It was a very nice social occasion though and we had nice chats to lots of people. Peter always makes much of us and I had a talk to Gordon - about computers of course.

Jean was very happy to let us park on her drive for the Morecombe trip and we have agreed to provide a taxi down to the coach. We tore-up and folder the raffle-ticket counterfoils again. It has become our regular job. And Yvonne was out front holding the tin for people to pick tickets from, which she was happy to do. She reacts so well to folk in that sort of environment and 'loves abit of social'.

Patchy fog while driving home. And, it was a relief to find that we HAD programmed the video successfully but the timer might be a couple of minutes out. Will create a 'sticky' and check it tomorrow.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Visit to Arnold

Brian Owen visited this morning and we had a good couple of hours play on the computer. I learnt about working offline and synchronise, favourites and history. He still has his own health problems, plus problems with his Mum. He knew all about the Amber Hotel at Higham and suggested it would be nice if he and Jenny and us went into Derbyshire for lunch one day. Yvonne was quite keen on the idea.

We had Paella for lunch and it didn't really agree with Yvonne.

It seemed like a good idea, in view of a lovely blue sky, to go out for a breath of fresh air. We decided to head for Arnold to explore and found this lay-by near Dorkett Head with a footpath fingerpost. I just basically walked into the field and Yvonne shot off to explore the footpath. This view, with the sunlight and dappled shade, appealed to me. To quote Gerard Manley Hopkins - "Glory be to God for dappled things" Not happy with the God bit but I understand where he was coming from. In the field just below the sky-line are what strongly seem like medieval furrows and they were caused by the ploughing method for centuries leaving those shapes. It also had the advantage of allowing the field to drain effectively and provided a dry spot for harvested crops.

Then we went down Arnold for a mooch round the shops and finished up at Joans - armed with 3 Vanilla slices from Birds.

Bad news this morning. Beryl is in Hospital having had a stroke. We don't know the latest position yet. Ray not very well again either. Posted by Picasa

Visit to Tracy's

We were invited to Tracy's for Sunday lunch and had the usual super time. She had done roast lamb (her signature dish)with all the trimmings and Yorkshires.

I took some photos of her back garden, now completed, before plants go in and tubs etc. It looks very good indeed. She designed it and can be justly proud.

After lunch we had a drive round Arnold looking for possible houses but each one we saw that we liked had either got a Sold notice or was not for sale in the first place. We can't wait to move now and we intend to spend more time in Arnold anyway - to really get the feel of the place before we actually move.

Not so cold now. The temperature rose to 7C and the sky has been clear blue. Spring is just around the corner and the crocuses are doing fine. Our snowdrops and aconite are only now losing their crispness. When we move we only want a tiny garden and if I can have room outside, the kitchen door, for some tubs of fresh herbs I shall be happy.

An email from Bob and he seems to have softened his line on the blog slightly. It is after all up to me to ensure that it doesn't have the feel of a 'Hi' letter. Chatted with Ray on Google Talk and he reports being nearly back to 100%. David and Brooke both suffering from this winter-vomiting bug - poor people. Had a nice chat to John. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Slightly snowy morning

This was around 7.40am. A hard frost and some snow. Temperature down to around -3c during the night. Up quite early but happy with my pot of tea. Yvonne going to meet Sylvia for lunch and I shall take her to the tram at Phoenix Park around 11am and collect her sometime during the afternoon.

At what time depends on whether or not they go the pictures.

More later. Posted by Picasa

10.30am. Really beautiful now. Bright blue sky. Nothings thawed and I shall have to sort out the bird's water.
2.30pm Collected Yvonne from Tram she had had a good time with Sylvia. Lunch at Petis Paris and a good chat. Sylvia's hands now very arthritic. Exchanged emails with Bob, Brian Owen, and Google Talk with Ray.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The whole family on my 70th

Although this was back on 28th October 2005, now I have a blog I wanted to include it.

It was a lovely occasion and a day for me to cherish. Tracy did the catering, with some help from Andy who did a Thai curry, and everything was super.

We were even lucky with the weather which was foul before the day and awful after. Posted by Picasa

Morning of 3.3.06 Yvonne went to see the nurse for the results of her blood-test etc. Her blood pressure is up and her cholesterol is 5.7 (would have been considered fine a while back) and she has to go back in a month. She IS stressed over the house-move.

After we had been shopping we went to see Beryl and take her some crunchy nut cornflakes. She really isn't very well and isn't eating. Kate is coming at the weekend and the best plan would be for Beryl to go back with her for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Stevens Garden Party Invite

Forgot to mention Steven's invite to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party. Recognition of his excellent work in building up his 'door-making' business. A real honour and Yvonne is justifiably proud of him. Thursday was a pretty typical Thursday. Yvonne went to Burton Joyce. Tram from Phoenix Park and then bus. Bitterly cold still. Minus 2c.

I had my hair cut and messed about on the computer. Couldn't work out how to change the picture on my blog profile but I shall solve it eventually. Found it very difficult to log-on to the blogger-forum to post a newbie question about this.

Pleased to say that Ray feels a lot better after 2 days on his new tablets. Still feels queasy with his acid-reflux but the pain has gone. He has read my blog and seems to feel he should do one too. We watched the Culture Show and we both like it very much. It keeps us informed about all sorts of obscure things like Welsh pop. And exhibitions, films etc....

End of February 2006

Week ending Feb 28th

Very interesting February which involved going to te Theatre Royal to see Blood Brothers. It was excellent and we had a first-class lunch in the theatre restaurant. The following Monday we went to the Cinema and saw the film about Johnny Cash (Walk the Line). Again quite excellent and we 'bet tens' that Reese Witherspoon wins an Oscar for her portrayal of June Carter. Beforehand we had teacake and coffee in Capoccis, all for 98p, one of Yvonne's finds.