Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Palmers Green - Bad Computer Day

Please see * below.

I was hoping to open with a picture of some Iris Sibirica which I had grown from seed, flourishing in a particularly damp. almost boggy bit of garden. But the computer problems that have beset me all day seem determined to prevent me from opening the 'Add Image' Window.

So I have decided to carry on with text only and hope to insert the picture at a later time. I took Y to the tram, the start of her trip to London at around 9.30am and she rang around 1pm to say that she had arrived. When I got back home I decided to uninstall the Panicware Pop-up blocker because I was having so many problems with it. I had removed the google pop-up blocker from my google toolbar, and couldn't get it back, so had to reinstall google toolbar. I couldn't do system/restore to any date, it kept rejecting them and I tried 4. Anyway I've read up on the problem on WUforum and hope to be able to fix it. Just tried with the picture, again, but still no luck.

And Ray sent me a link to Adobe 7.0.8 and that proved problematic too. I think I'm going to call it a day and shutdown hoping that when I reboot, all will be well.

* Well, if you will pardon the expression, "Bogger me". I thought I would see what happens if I 'publish' then 'edit' and then 'Add Image' - and there it is. It would be sexist and wrong to accuse ladies of the occasional touch of 'temperament' but I feel justified in deciding that the programme is definitely 'Miss Blogger' rather than some boring old male. Neither the Camera nor Picasa have done justice to the subtle colours of the Irises which are a delicate pale mauve and maybe my little Casio doesn't go in for subtlety. The Erysium 'Bowles Mauve' and the 'Forget-me-Nots' (Yvonne's own 'scatter-around-every year' variety) are fine for colour.

Yvonne will be tired when she returns but she was really looking forward to seeing them. Elli has decided that crumpets are actually called 'trumpets' and I think I prefer it. Probably her greatest contribution has been that her "bottom had popped" - much more elegant than the vulgar expressions we are all used to. This morning, with friends round to play, there were five tots this morning. Debra subscribes to the view that more children playing is less demanding than two. And I think she is right. They entertain each other. Mind you, I think that more than 7 demolishes the theory.

I think now that a shower is called for then bed. As a result of all the computer-tension I am a little sweaty and have reached the stage when Yvonne describes my room as having the whiff of "the lair of the adult human male".

Bob is coming over tomorrow for lunch, and that will be fun.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Arboretum - Accepted offer on Bungalow

The first picture is of the Arboretum and the second is yet another Tram-shot. This will be my last tram picture, I promise - well, nearly promise. I simply find them so photogenic they are difficult to resist. There is so much excellent design around in 2006, from children's clothes, through bridges and buildings, to Trams, and even computer-icons which I usually think are unbelievably good!

It's difficult to know where to start in a very exciting day. Thinks started quietly enough. We caught the tram. Of course! Walked through the Arboretum as planned and I'm afraid we were a little disappointed. Not much colour. The azaleas and rhodendendrons not really out yet and work still going on in the flower beds. We enjoyed it though. Then on the tram again and got off at the Lace Market from where it is just a short walk, downhill to Waterstones etc.. People had recommended St Peter's Church Hall for lunch. The sandwiches were positive door-stops (as per above recommendation, from someone who knows me too well) and, a nice touch this, you can have half-a-round of one sort and half-a-round of something different. I settled for cream-cheese and chive for one, and ham salad for the other. Both excellent. Yvonne settled for two scones with lashings of butter.

After that Yvonne went to Bromley House to return books (it was shut for an extra bank-holiday) and I walked slowly back up to Waterstones. I bought a book about 'Blogging' which looks like a good read in waiting.

When we arrived home there was a message to ring the Estate-Agents and then the fun started. The people who started off with a ridiculously low offer had upped their offer yet again. To cut to the chase, we have agreed to accept an offer which is only £7,000 less than we wanted. We shall just have to cash in some ISA's to buy the sort of place we would like - no problem. The people are not in a chain and are keen to proceed as quickly as possible. Yvonne rang the agents handling the house we liked on Revesby Road, Woodthorpe, with a view to viewing. But it as been sold. Not to worry - we feel that things are finally 'moving' to coin a phrase. We might avoid picking raspberries after all.

Ray recommended a site 'Barney's Place' which is full of goodies and yet aanother new source of Blogs, many of which look very interesting; there just isn't enough hours in the day. But main thing was I downloaded a super pop-up blocker from Barney and it is hyper-efficient. It even stops me opening windows that I actually want to open. It isn't really a prob. though, you just have to remember to hold down cntrl before clicking the link. Apparently Barney was a WU stalwart but left due to problems. Going to end there, still got lots to do. It is actually 10.20pm. Ignore what it says at the bottom - that was when I opened it and posted the pictures.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bank Holiday - Return of SpringWatch

Three images from the Springwatch website which I'm absolutely sure they won't mind me using. It's one of our favourites and resumes at 8pm this evening. Hence the early start to my Blog because by 9pm I shall be too tired to be messing about with pictures.

I've had emails re 'comments' by Bungus and I'm glad he is back. The comments haven't yet arrived in the Blog itself, but they will eventually. Bungus's Picasa problems have also dissipated, apparently something he did must have worked, but he can't identify what. Like the Blog problems, just another routine google-glitch. Can't blame google for my printer's malfunction though. It was my own fault. I believed a wizard which told me I had completed printing some images, and invited me to click 'finish' which I did. Bad move. It hadn't finished anything; it hadn't even started. Don't want to bore people so I won't related the full story. But it ended with me ignoring the Wizard's instructions whereupon, after around 10 seconds it started printing normally.

This morning, after some shopping (most shops were open irrespective of Bank Holiday) we nipped over to Woodthorpe to have a drive-by look at a bungalow on Revesby Road. Looked absolutely right ! The only criticism is that it has houses on either side, so the rear garden would be overlooked. We shall have to compromise on some things though, maybe a lot, and we are unlikely to have as much space round us as here. But that of course implies 'big garden' which we don't want. To have a small garden and lots of space round you is oxymoronic (I think). I can't be bothered to check and I sure someone will put me right.

I did a crispy-beef stirfry for main meal. It all started with finding some Pak Choi in Lidl for 27p a pack and all led on from there. My method involves having the butcher cut a very thin slice of beef, which I then cut into very tiny ribbons about 3cms long, dunked in seasoned cornflour - into the smoky hot wok, followed by the stirfry veg. A glub of sesame oil, a few glubs of oyster sauce and then the Pak Choi leaves few a few seconds, just long enough for them to start to wilt. And serve immediately. Soy Sauce at the customer's choice. Delicious. Good for dieters. Need I say more.

Springwatch was good, particularly Simon (on the left of the first picture) on the Shetlands with a family of otters. They actually 'played' at chasing and much rolling about. Maybe there is some scientific explanation for their behaviour but they just looked as if they were having fun. There was a little too much coverage of wood-mice for Yvonne's pleasure because she really doesn't like rats and mice, or any relatives like voles. Or look-alikes such as bats or grey squirrels. I'm not wild about them either but they don't offend me quite as much as they do Yvonne. Looking out of my window 9.30pm irrespective of what it says at the bottom, and there are signs that we may be beginning some 'sunsets'. Not all that dramatic tonight but red-rimmed clouds which look promising. Maybe a scorcher tomorrow because it's been b. cold today.

I can't resist this quote :-
"The way to ensure summer in England is to have it framed and glazed in a comfortable room."

Horace Walpole 28th May 1774

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Rest Day - Did 'bog-all'

I cribbed the publicity picture from the Culture Show website and I am sure they would be delighted rather than bleat about copyright. But I thought I'd better mention it lest anyone think that I took the photograph. Our lovely Verity Sharp is second from the left. Picture two is from a card I bought at Holker Motor Museum on our NT weeked. A BSA Bantam was the motorbike I used to go to work on; at my first job, in a Bank in Derby. Not my first bike, which was a BSA 250cc but the Bantam was newer and more reliable even if sadly underpowered at 125cc. It was OK downhill and on the level, but ask it to go up some Derbyshire Hill and it slowed to around walking pace. The Bantam in the museum itself had been resprayed green but the wrong green. It is amazing how the human brain stores trivia!

We decided on a complete 'rest day'. Ankles still going down, Y still tired from BJ etc but spoke to more or less everyone during the day. Couldn't raise John and I guess David will be away somewhere caravanning but we received a webcam call from Steven so Y was able to see the children before they all set off to the 'American Adventure'. He called us when they got back and had had a smashing time. Gunslingers etc., and Miles had a ride on a 'runaway train' which he loved. A nice sirloin steak for lunch, with veg. and I cooked one steak and we had half each. More in keeping with our appetites and dietary requirements.

Loads of interesting stuff on the web. I've also sent a letter to Saga magazine (I know; we should get out more) who have had correspondence about rooting basil plants. So I gmailed the picture of the rooting-basil I published here on my Blog some time ago; to show just how easy it is to do. It will be interesting to see if they use the letter and the picture. I'm also thinking of writing to the editor to suggest they do a little more for the silver-surfer. They couldn't do less because at the moment there is nothing. A pleasant magazine but zilch content for us older web-junkies. I seem to have started battling for causes again which is good. In Lidl car-park last week I was approached by an ex-colleague (ex crime squad) and as he bent down to the car-window I said "If you want me to represent you on a 'discipline', I don't do 'em any more !" Good laugh all round, but it was a problem with his pension; and although I didn't know the answer, I told him the name of a man who might.

p.s. Great news Y has just drawn my attention to. Ken Loach has won the Palme d'Or at Cannes for his film about the early struggle for Irish independence "The Barley". A must-see for us. Another 70yr old who can still cut the mustard!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Blogger sorted - Wet & windy again

The second picture is the Smoke Tree again, catching the evening sun and I apologise for the lack of sharpness. It was either the wind or camera shake. But I don't expect that anyone will be wanting to print it at A3, . Ha Ha! The first, was the view from our sea-view room at sunrise. There are advantages to being an early riser because it rained for most of the rest of the day. Unfortunately, I woke Yvonne up with 'messing about' and I thought I was being so quiet.

My computer has been very sluggish and I asked Ray about the Java I downloaded, as advised on WUforum, and following his comments I discovered I had additionally downloaded a Java Development programme for webdevelopers pitching in at 287MB. I have uninstalled it and things seem more normal now. Prolly nothing to do with it. Bungus (see comments) still has Picasa problems (Multiple Images) and nothing we've tried so far has helped. I'm beginning to think, by the process of elimination, that it must be the camera not the programme. If all else fails we can go on the Picasa forum and seek advice. At least his car is sorted.

The compulsory period of bed-rest seems to have reduced my ankles but was so boring that this afternoon we nipped up the Motorway to Macarthy Glen (big shopping-mall) just for a run out. But I didn't do any walking, so we will see what they look like tomorrow. Alex sorted Tracy's lawn, for which she was most grateful. She was working again!! On Saturday, again!!.

Short Blog this evening because we are going to watch the Culture Show. Verity Sharp is very nice and we look forward to her.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Warmer - but still pretty damp

A few days ago I published a picture of our beloved tram which Bungus particularly liked and I thought I would continue the pictorial story with an interior. If you look in the top-right corner of the shot you can see the Underground type map of the system , and generally how clean and airy they are. The second picture is the lovely Salvation Army Man in Eastwood (another feature of the town). Not being a band expert I am not sure enough of my facts to call it his 'bassoon' but whatever it is, he plays it beautifully and has an extensive repetoire of popular music, not just hymn tunes. Yvonne loves to put money in his tin because he pauses in mid blow to say "God Bless you mi' dear". We send money annually to the Salvation Army because whatever disaster befalls whoever, wherever in the world the SA are amongst the first there and they do so much for all sorts of people-with-problems in this country too.

We decided to do our own shopping in Bulwell Morrisons and to pick up and deliver Beryl's few bits. I did some computer jobs like installing an uptodate version of Java Runtime because a warning about the vulnerability of the old one had been posted on WUforum, and Ray drew my attention to it. It took me longer than I expected. It was obviously going to be a fairly lengthy download so at one stage I left it to it. Returned in an hour to find a window which needed 'next' clicking. You can't win !

Yvonne did loads of washing, again ! It's difficult to understand how just two people can generate so much. Tonight we watched Terry Jones do an excellent hour on the 'Barbarians' and how cultured the Celts actually were. We've all grown up to believe the Roman version of history via Tacitus and it is only recently being discovered how flawed that narrative is. It was a fascinating programme which showed and told us so much that we didn't know; next episode next week. And tomorrow evening The Culture Show returns. Yvonne says I ought to spend most of tomorrow in bed, or at least lying down, because my ankles are revoltingly swollen again. I won't attempt a description of how they look - but I'm sure you can guess.

One job I can cross off my list is 'send a selection of holiday pics to the family'. I selected just 5 pictures, because can you think of anything more boring than your parents' National Trust Weekend photographs?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Burton Joyce Day - Nice Weather

I know I promised more holiday pictures but I decided to use this instead. While in Eastwood this morning I popped into the Camera Shop for a chat with Brian and I explained the difficulties I was having with my Panorama making programme. He advised that I use the lowest pixel setting I can find on my settings (640x480 on my Casio Compact) and try again. Bingo - it worked ! .Subject matter - iffy, composition - disaster, picture quality - poor. .But undoubtedly a Panorama of the back garden.

When I went to collect Yvonne from Burton Joyce I also did one of Steve's Main Door :

This is how the three shots put together look; in their rough state. Then I have to export it to Picasa for tidying up purposes and then back again to My Pictures so that Blogger can find it. This is a weakness of Picasa, one doesn't seem able to have another programme browse for pictures in it. Because it's web-based I guess. Anyway, I didn't have the time tonight to go through the necessary 'faff' so I'm publishing it 'raw'.

These longer evenings are a joy. It is 9.30pm now and still only dusk ! Delightful bird-song and nice sky. Beryl rang with a little shopping list for tomorrow morning which will be a pleasure. Such a step forward that she rang us instead of the other way round. She has 'sacked' the home-care woman who was going each evening to put her to bed. The problem was that she was arriving at 7.30pm! and Beryl doesn't have her whisky and paracetemol ( I know, I know !) till 10.30pm. It must be enormously difficult to administer because obviously not everyone can be bedded-down between 10pm and 11pm.

Still not sorted photographs out for John, Tracy, David and Steven (although I did email him his own front door, as above), and Debra's computer is on the blink again. I know Andy needs a Mac for his job but if it isn't working ......... They would be better with a PC and Windows.

Useful comments from Bungus on yesterday's Blog and we exchanged emails about the contents. I didn't want to wax poetic about 'fibonacci series', important in the Da Vinci Code, or the 'Early Roman Empire and The Rise of Christianity' which was part of my degree . There are limits to 'comments' on 'comments' in my view. Once, on a promotion-board, I was asked by a Chief Constable "What my current bedside reading was?". I answered truthfully that it was Grenstead's "Shorter History of the Doctrine of the Atonement". It went very quiet indeed; needless to say I didn't get the job. Poor Bungus has a poorly car which needs a peg welding on the drive-shaft or something. Don't even think aout asking because he doesn't understand and I certainly don't. If Ray is reading he can maybe enlighten us all.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Cold & Wet - Went to Pictures

It started off this morning at 9c and raining steadily so, after coffee, we decided to go to Nottingham, see the Da Vinci Code, and make our own minds up about it. The critics have really given it a bad time even though it made £100 million plus on opening night. They said that Tom Hanks and his leading lady Audrey Tauttau were 'wooden' - they weren't. Even the critics had to admit that Alfred Molina and Sir Ian Mackellen gave spectacular performances. It was panned for being dull and in fact it was far from it. Even down to a v.good car-chase. Corny I know but great fun. Some of the self-flagellation scenes were abit much for our gentle tastes but fortunately they didn't last long. The film gave the RC Church a bad time and Opus Dei an even worse one. But in countries where free-speech is permitted, such things are fair-comment. I suspect though, that had a film made similar points about Islam, there would have been much more fuss.

We have come to the conclusion that, if the critics dislike a film, we are likely to love it and vice-versa. Two cases in the past year spring to mind, 'Lost in Translation' and 'Closer', both of which won high praise. The first was simply 'boring' and the second simply 'offensive'. We didn't dare go see 'Brokeback Mountain' because, I'm ashamed to admit it, I am still embarrassed to see two men kissing.

The weather improved in the afternoon and I hope the improvement stretched as far as the Lincolshire Coast because Ray's daughter is holidaying there, and Ray is going over for the day to spend some time with Dylan. It would be lovely if it was fit to go on the sand and build some castles, with moats and things. But when the wind blows off the sea it can be bitterly cold even in late May. Skegness is so bracing, as they say. When we got home we discovered that the drains had been fixed. The problem hadn't extended to our system, but it could have done if it had remained 'unfixed' so we have offered to chip in to the total cost. Ou other bit of news, from the Estate Agents was that the people who offered us £20000 less than we wanted would like to revisit, if we would consider a figure just £10000 less than the asking price. We both agree that we should 'stick it out' for the time being.

I am more or less straight with emails and things, but still sending different people different selections of holiday pictures. I know that there are programmes that allow sort of 'mass mailings' but I don't want to do that, preferring a more personalised missive. WU published another of my forum replies in the current issue, about Blogs. It is nice to see stuff in hard copy again after all these years. Talking of WUforums, I had a cursorary glance this morning and the figure in red brackets, indicating unread, was well over a hundred, and that was in Open Forum alone. I shall have to have a 3am session I think.

Maybe manage to put in a few more 'holiday pics' over the next few days. Unless something more interesting occurs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

National Trust Weekend - Morecombe

Annoyingly this is the second attempt at my Blog. I had almost finished it when there was a power cut for at least 2 hours and my battery wouldn't last that long. Not to worry, I thought, it will have saved a draft. Oh no it didn't and I have had to start afresh. As you will see from picture 2, on the way up, the weather wasn't promising. Picture 1, entitled of course 'Bring me Sunshine' shows that the rain abated long enough for a little promenade. The hotel was on the front and I won a £1 wager with Yvonne, as to whether or not we would get a seaview room. I bet that we would, so not only did I have a seaview but won a £1.

The holiday seemed longer than a weekend because Jean had organised NT visits on the first day, on the way up, and also on the last day, on the way back. Our first visit was to Gawthorpe Hall and the only decent photo was of the Courtyard (actually the toilets but they are so elegant).

Soaking wet day, and even I donned my storm-coat. I don't usually bother with such things because I am seldom outside long enough for it to matter.

Yvonne loves Elizabethan and several things were of great interest. There was a lace and textile collection of national significance but I couldn't get fired up about it.

It had been my intention to Blog a post a day but the power-cut has decided the matter for me and, in any-case I think it would have been tedious, not only for my readership but also for me.

On the Sunday we went to Sizergh Castle (pronounced 'siser') and this one was my favourite.

The house had a lovely warm, friendly feel to it

Terribly wet again, so we gave the gardens a miss. I included the lady in the red coat because my friend Bungus often tells me that I need figures to convey a sense of scale. I suspect that sometimes he is right, sometimes not.

Very nice evening meal in the hotel this evening - we both had the salmon which, for hotel salmon was fine. Well flavoured, moist and nicely flaky - with new potatoes etc. The seating arrangements meant that we shared each meal with Gordon & Sue, and Alan & Margaret, all of whom are good fun. Gordon and I could talk computers and digital photography endlessly but we don't, so as to minimize the risk of boring our fellow diners to death.

The last visit, on Monday, was to Holker Hall which was excellent. Lovely meal in the restaurant but the portions were so large I actually had to leave some. I know that some readers will think I must be sickening for something but no, I was simply full. The highlight for me was the motor
museum in which, OK you had to pay a £1 for a licence to take pictures - but it was well worth it. I had an Austin A35, a green one, but an earlier model than this. It makes you feel really old when you have owned a car, older than one in a museum.

Must stop blogging now, the power-cut did for me. As I've said before you need the stamina of a marathon runner for this blogging lark. Never mind. It's good fun but I've got such a lot of other things to do now we are back. We, together with neighbours have got blocked drains and there is to be a meeting tomorrow between the Council Environmental Engineer and the people who live at the house where the blockage actually is.

The mini-holiday was great and, being able to park at Jean.s made it so convenient. I may return with pictures of BSA Bantams and things.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Car Fixed - Wet and Windy - Packing

Our beloved Tram, which we shall miss so much when we move. The terminal, Phoenix Park (they can't leave Lawrence alone) is built on the site of the old Babbington Colliery which, as far as I am aware, had not the remotest connection with DHL. No matter ! The trams are excellent, and with my walking difficulty, so easy to get on and off. No steps and disabled seating right next to the doors. Inside they are like London Undergound carriages, with undergound type maps on the curves of the roof. Also, completely clean and litter-free. Every 10 minutes at busy times, lengthening to 12 minutes and 20 minutes at weekends. Whatever, one never seems to have to wait long. If you can just see the orange lights (roof level, in the middle) the display says exactly to the minute when the next one is due. There is plenty of disabled parking close to the entrance and, if its an evening theatre trip, you can get off right outside the Theatre Royal.

The garage fixed our car this morning, from when the wall at Tracy's jumped out and banged the front bumper and wing. I was pleasantly surprised at £65. It looks like new and I was expecting it to be £100 plus. Mind, I am a loyal customer and pay my bills immediately and in a village these things matter.

An early Blog this evening because I have to pack and there won't be time in the morning. We set-off at 7.30am. The Mansfield Chapter of the National Trust like to get on with things. So Radiogandy will be "Off -Air" for a couple of days. I've decided to comply with Senior-Management's dictum that 'laptops are banned'. Got lots to read anyway, and recorded podcasts and stuff on my MP3 player, and I shall enjoy 'nebbing' at everyone's gardens out of the coach window. Not to mention the scenery and the places-of-interest lined up for us. The hotel has a seafront position but obviously not all the rooms have a sea-view. Fingers crossed ! Mind, if the weather doesn't improve there won't be much to see. I Google-mapped and printed the address - straightforward map and also a hybrid map/satellite view which looks good. I also googled and printed interesting stuff about places of interest.

My list of things-not-to-forget is in the back of my diary and as I pack I tick things off. When I was travelling about the country so much, I used to do this, and as I forgot things I added them to the list for next time. The ultimate was when I had to deliver some lectures at the then BMC headquarters in the West Midlands and when I arrived I found I had forgotten my case altogther. I nipped out to buy underpants, socks etc., and my hosts kindly fixed me up with 2 BMC 'T shirts' which I thankfully wore. My audience thought I was pretty trendy for a Police Inspector.

See ya' all Tuesday.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Burton Joyce Day - Windy but warmer

I love the way the evening sunlight shines through the Cotinus (smoke tree) leaves but, now I see it on the page I think a better bet would have been to have got closer and concentrate on just a few leaves. This really doesn't do it justice.

We had rather hoped not to see it, and the Spirea behind it, this year; having left them both for the new-owners to enjoy. The agents rang to say that the latest viewer rejected the house because she didn't like the interior layout. In our opinion it is one of the property's stronger features but accept that not everyone would like it. There was an answerphone message when we arrived back home from agents asking us for feedback on 2 of the houses we went to see. Yvonne will ring them tomorrow and explain why we reject them. Oh dear - it is an unpleasant business and we shall both be glad when it is over.

Bob added a Bungus comment to the effect that he had cooked the baked winter veg. recipe (basically Delia) and it was delicious. He had the sense to add the courgettes and mushroom at halftime. I think I had forgotten that bit.

No 'footie' match at Burton Joyce this afternoon due to weather but Miles and Granny played I-Spy in one room and Hannah and I played 'eights' in the other room. The game has different names I think, but the rules are simple. You each have 7 cards, and 1 from the pack is turned face up. Then you can throw down one card of either the same suit, or the same denomination in turn till you can't go. You then have to pick up until you can go, but if you have an 8 you can use it to change suit. The winner is the first one to go out and it is considered good form, when you are down to only one left in your hand to shout, in a loud voice "Last Card". One's opponents then have the chance, if they can, to change suit or denomination or leave it as it is. An excellent game for children from 8 to 80. Millicent divided her attentions between the two rooms. She won't be long before she is talking - she is making all the preliminary noises.

I emailed John this morning to bring him up-to-date and to tell him we would be away. The mobiles will be on 24/7 and leaving lengthy details and hotel phone numbers etc., just isn't necessary any longer.

No Blog problems, touch wood, and I've sent Ray the Panorama programme via snailmail in an envelope. Let's hope he makes a better job with it than I have. The problem I think, is that I simply have too little effective RAM to deal with it. When we are back from holidays etc., I will use Crucial to sort out what I need to add a further 256Mbs. I went to Mansfield Jessops this afternoon and bought a mini tripod because I had so much fun last night with the low-light photography I want to try again but give the camera a better chance.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wet again - Solomon Seal

Yvonne wanted to rescue some Solomon's Seal before the caterpillars annihilate it. One keeps a wary eye out for them but each year, before you've noticed them, they have stripped the foliage down to skeleton stems. And all that remains to do is cut them back because the bed looks so unsightly. Feeling artistic, she put a single stem in an empty liqueur bottle. I think it looks pretty good.

The lighting could have been better but it was an awful day weatherwise and flash wouldn't have looked good. The rain has persisted from mid-morning and steadily got worse. Yvonne was going to ramble this evening from Felley Priory with a group led by Joan's Chris but she rang him and chickened out. She made the right decision because it's chucking it down right now as I look out of my window. It isn't stopping the blackbird singing though. Strange creatures ! It's that yellow-rimmed eye that transfixes you.

Madeline reports that gales are forecast for Wales, and I heard the item just before the 6pm News. I hope they are not too severe. She suggests 'Blogging' my ad-foiling item 'Radiogandy's personalised Adblocker - free to members' and PM-ing the full lexicon of IT words to WUmembers who ask for it. It's a nice idea but I sense myself losing interest in the problem. There is no doubt that I lack the stamina for 'trouble' that I once had. Ah well ! There are compensations. Main meal was Chicken Casserole with odds & ends thrown in together with a good handful of fresh tarragon from a sheltered tub where it has overwintered, admittedly covered with fleece during those frosts. French Tarragon is essential; Russian Tarragon - plants of which, Garden Centre's have the audacity to sell - is rubbish and shouldn't be tolerated.

Peter came round and reported finally achieving success with Severn Trent, about the manhole cover. I don't know what he said or what he threatened but they came and fixed it late morning. It was only a half-hour job ! So why we were supposed to wait until 6th June, god only knows.

Bob seems to be having 'puter-problems'. Since the inauguration of XP his 'window' is too small. I've told him the recommended way of fixing it, i.e dragging the edges out and closing via 'File'. He will have a go and come back to me. His other problem is an inability to send pictures either by Picasa or GMail and he keeps being asked for 'username' and 'password' which, when entered, don't work. I've never been asked for either, in either. I have to sign-in to Google Talk but Bob isn't on that yet. Maybe he will have to reinstall or check his settings or something. We shall work it out.

I think I am going to abandon Serif PanoramaPlus 1. Another hour and a half wasted on the wretched programme again today - without a successful result at the end of it. Yvonne has just looked at the Solomon Seal picture and says "It's not very clear, is it?" I know she is right but it's too late to change it now. I'm about 'putered-out' for today. See if I can raise Ray and then radio, read, glass of milk, piece of choccy and noonoos.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

No Rain - Nice Warm Day - More House-Hunting

Just some wallflowers which I tried to catch in the morning light. The camera was set to macro to, hopefully, concentrate on the foreground. Not sure if it works well or not. The wallflowers were part of a Chiltern's seeds collection which I grew but with moving I haven't grown anything this year. The way our moving seems to drag on endlessly I could have done. I would not be at all surprised to find ourselves picking raspberries before we move.

The weather has been pretty good. No rain, some nice sun but not too hot and this afternoon we had arranged to view three houses in the Arnold area. We drove the country route and the trees and the blossom are so lovely.
"O! the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
O! and then did I unto my true Love say,
Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my Summer's Queen."

Thomas Dekker 1572 - 1632

I tried to Google an image of Thomas Dekker but failed miserably. There don't seem to be any except for a not-very-nice line drawing of him in a four-poster bed. Not to worry - it's his words that count. He also wrote a poem called 'Golden Slumbers' which the Beatles lifted complete and unattributed for their hit song in 1969. There seem to be computer problems in general today. Bob's had snags and my Gmail wouldn't let me 'add contact' It kept informing me that I had a pop-up blocker on, which I hadn't. And I do know about the IE one hidden in Tools. In Google Talk, when I tried to open it via the grey balloon I got the normal sized window but not populated with people. So I had no means of seeing if people were available or reading any messages. And having just 'published' this, to go and do other things, I find that the problem of it taking me to yesterday's post has resurfaced. One certainly needs stamina for this blogging business.

The bungalows we went to see at least convinced us of one thing and that is that we are certainly not asking too much for here. The first one was OK, a cute little garden and a reasonable view but needing £40,000 spending on it and therefore was at least £30,000 overpriced. If you can follow the logic of that. The young lady who showed us round was the tenant and quite frank about the defects of the place. She thought it overpriced but the owner steadfastly refuses to consider offers. Oh well. She can keep it. The second place was better value, but still overpriced for two bedrooms only, and not in such a nice location. The third wasn't really a possible. Very run down and an enormously long back garden which would need far to much work at our age. So, back to the drawing board as they say.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Rain most of the day - Brian's visit.

Brian arrived as planned, and had previously emailed me this picture from his high-speed day at Silverstone. It was a delayed Xmas present and involved, I think, 6 laps in this Lotus Elise with a top driver, Simon Mason. Brian said it was an awesome experience and one reaches 125mph in what seems like seconds, and the acceleration and the braking for corners mader him feel as if bits of him were being left behind. Getting into the car in the first place was no mean feat. You have to be under 70 and under 17st which of course completely rules me out. But I shan't lose any sleep over it.

The weather has been wet and not all that warm. Yvonne decided to go down Nottingham because she needed to go to Bromley House, our subscription-library, which overlooks Market Square. It is so old fashioned. They enter your books in a hard-back ledger and know everyone by name. There is a lovely leather-chair type reading room and it's like having a 'club' in the centre of town. The building dates back to 1720-ish and they have never, ever, got rid of anything. Yvonne once wanted an obscure Thomas Hardy, which they found on a shelf upstairs. In it was a label which said "Please return this book promptly; other readers are waiting for it" and the last issue date was 1923.

I had a strange experience with WUforums. This 'pop-up advertising' innovation is activated if your pointer hovers over keywords such as 'computer' even if the word appears in your forum signature, it will be bold and underlined. It really annoys me because even Google don't go that far. Ray and Madeline are both steamed-up about it and threatening withdrawal unless it is sorted. Both would be seriously missed for the contribution they make. Other people disapprove too, so it isn't just a fringe. For a bit of a lark I penned a post in Open Forum which read "Radiogandy's personalised Adblocker - free to members". In the post I suggested always writing 'commputer', 'wiireless'. 'lapptop', 'wii-fi' etc., and I offered to update the lexicon whenever I came across a new keyword. The system completely 'floors' the advertising - it can't cope with it.

I'm disappointed to report that my 'post' was simply deleted. Not moved to another forum, and not a word from anyone as to why. Have they no sense of humour ? Ray suggests that I 'cool' it rather than risk being 'banned'. But I'm not used to backing away from shite like that!

On to more interesting matters. I made a delicious shepherds-pie from yesterday's left-over lamb with steamed vegetables. Maybe even Bungus would have enjoyed it. He sent me a very interesting photograph of Danny's, taken using a tripod for a long, long exposure at night and the result is fascinating. Bob is now on XP ; Danny did some sterling work, changing over hard-drives and other technical stuff. The only remaining thing is a lead to connect to his printer/scanner. But that won't stop him downloading Google Talk. Then we can exchange instant drivel, without having to email it. Ha Ha!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Tracy for Lunch - Delayed Birthday

On Thursday, with the Cup-Final imminent there was an important match at Burton Joyce. 'Granny' played 'Granddaughter' in a well-fought game. Another 'granddaughter' was the crowd, and unusually for the crowd, sat in the middle of the pitch. I'm not quite sure of the result but I do know that it didn't end with a penalty shoot-out. If you were wondering about Yvonne's 'neck-jewelry' it is in fact the whistle. I thought it unfair for the captain of one of the sides to have the whistle but I was shouted down.

Today Tracy came over for her birthday lunch, delayed by her trip to Barcelona which had been a success. Good hotel, good food and great architecture but Liz who she shared a room with, snored which caused Tracy some distress. She is so used to not sharing a room and wonders how Liz's husband copes. To cap all he didn't receive messages re flights etc., and wasn't at Gatwick at the appointed time. Tracy had parked her own car at Gatwick so she didn't have a problem. Poor Liz. I had promised to cook whatever Tracy wanted for her lunch and she picked leg-of-lamb or 'gigot' as we francophiles say, with all her favourite extras, - mashed potato as well as roast, onion sauce, carrots, asparagus, peas, mint sauce and, of course, yorkshire puddings and gallons of gravy. Bungus says that having yorkshires with lamb is against the rules but, as I have told him, in Clan Radiogandy, yorkshires go with everything except fish. And I know of one very junior clan member who would like them with fish too. In any case, I know that Bungus doesn't really like lamb (he doesn't care for the smell of it cooking) so I wouldn't offer it to him anyway; so the yorkshires point is purely academic. The butcher, who rears his own lamb, was unable to provide this year's spring-lamb and we had to settle for some of last year's which was still very good. But it made me think of a lady reader, in Wales, who I guess can already get spring-lamb but not so I'm afraid in the East Midlands. I happily spent most of the morning in the kitchen but I really enjoy it and the result was much appreciated. We finished off with a cheese-board and coffee. A fairly recent discovery has been that we prefer Shropshire Brie to French Brie - it seems to mature to the sought-after runniness much quicker.

This evening on TV was the final episode of the docu-drama "The Impressionists" and we enjoyed it even that has attracted bad reviews. It has been decribed as 'pappy' and 'suitable for children' - maybe we have simple minds! My own criticism would be that the absence of any mention at all of Camille Pisarro or Sisley, made the programme fall short of a decent coverage of the subject.

We discussed with Tracy details of bungalows for which we had particulars and she made some excellent points about them. I think it essential to have opinions from younger minds who we know have our best interests at heart. We intend to try to look at three more sometime during the next week and after that we shall have a better idea. Next weekend we go on our Mansfield National Trust jaunt to Morecombe (a seaview hotel) and trips to nearby NT places. We are really looking forward - even though I've been given fairly strict instructions that 'laptops' aren't allowed. Oh dear!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

More House Viewers

I was sorting my pictures and decided on this Swan as today's Blog picture. It is around a month out of date and was taken at the rear of the Old Mill at Ollerton when with Bob. Although I accept that my bluebells a couple of days ago weren't pin-sharp, my little Casio did a fine job with the water-droplets in this. And it was a case of 'press the shutter as quick as possible' while the camera was pointing in the general direction. Certainly no time to let the camera focus on the swan; and I couldn't set it up earlier because I had no idea that he was going to ' exit stage right' in such a hurry.

Probably I spend around fortyfive minutes a day trying to sort My Pictures and Picasa into a fairly logical and tidy arrangement; culling anything I don't need and labelling, so that I can find a particular picture when I want to. To praise Google where praise is due, Picasa is a great programme for my purposes and is, of course, free.

David and family are caravanning at Carsington Water and we had hoped to drive over to see them but the Estate Agents rang and asked if a potential buyer could view at 2pm which, precisely in the middle of the day, more or less precluded our visit. I tried to ring David but just got his bizarre answer-phone message. He rang later to say he hadn't realised his phone was switched off but it eventually dawned on him that he hadn't had any calls. Not to worry, I'll speak to him tomorrow. The house-buyers came, a lady and her daughter, and as always it was impossible to decipher whether or not they liked it. They stayed about 30 minutes and had a close look at most things and asked detailed questions, such as were we on a water-meter or not? which I would think indicates at least a passing interest. After they had gone we returned the house more-or-less to normal. Because, in accordance with the advice Yvonne sees on her TV house-doctor programmes, we have a major tidy-up and put-away blitz before they come.

For main meal I made a 'rustled-up Chicken Jalfreezi' which I was quite proud of. I used all sorts of cupboard stuff; tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, and refrigerator stuff, like peppers and mushrooms, onions and a good glub of Thai fish oil. The result was fine. After our meal we watched a programme presented by Michael Palin interviewing David Attenborough, to celibrate his 8oth birthday. It was about all the series he has done and how important he has been to Television right from the word go. And, of course, we could remember it all. I'm so pleased that we noticed it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Another Renishaw Shot - Nice Day

Another super weather day although in the afternoon there were heavy downpours in the area. Joan had thunder which she hates. Our temperature reached 23C with mostly blue sky even though a little hazy. This is definitely the last Renishaw shot at least for the time being, and shows a non-bluebell part of the garden. There were lots of interesting things to come and we intend to revisit. By the way, Ray is quite right, there is a golf-course (which he remembers playing) and it straddles the road to the Hall.

In my photo-forum a contributor praised one of my bluebell photos but pointed out (very gently) that my compact camera didn't seem to focus sharply on anything in particular. It's a good point but probably my fault, not the Casio's. My tendency is to compose the picture in the view-screen and click, hoping that the focus rectangle in the centre will sort itself out. I will pay more attention in future and go through the 'select a focus-object, half depress the shutter button, recompose, then click' routine.

We tried to chase up the manhole-cover problem and found, as we expected, that Peter had already been chasing Severn Trent who had promised to fix it by 11am. Needless to say, they didn't and when I rang them at first they couldn't find any reference to the problem but then agreed to pursue it. Let's hope it's fixed before we move !! A totally unrelated point about the bird-feeders - the greenfinches have discovered that they can access the goldfinch feeder and the niger seed. I would have thought that the slots were too tiny for their large beaks but not so. The result is that the goldfinches are being frightened away. I shall give the problem some thought.

In the afternoon we nipped over to Arnold to have a sneaky look at a bungalow on Waverley Close which we are scheduled to view next Friday. It was very nice but only two bedrooms and needing much work, hence over-priced in our opinion. Yvonne is now prepared to think of places in the Rolleston Drive/Sandfield Road area and that broadens our 'possible places list' yet again. We then had a look round the shops, market etc., where I bought a big bag of niger seed for £1 which won't last long if the greenfinches insist on 'wolfing' it. In the remaindered book shop I found two poetry books - a Simon Armitage and an anthology edited by Wendy Cope, both Faber & Faber and about quarter-price.

Re the Blog - I have discovered that I can add comments on other people's comments, whcih I wasn't aware that I could do. So 'Bungus beware', I shall answer back !

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Smashing Weather - Burton Joyce Day

Another Renishaw Hall picture. And I must admit that it made my remaining few socialist nerve-ends twitch abit when one had to pay to walk through the woods with no access to the house.

Admittedly the gardens were lovely and one had admission to a museum, and some interesting art-galleries. But "a tad on the big side for one family" I thought. Never mind 'eh? We had a super day out and we would like to go again. My loyal contributor 'Bungus' who saw this picture yesterday evening is of the opinion that I should have repositioned myself for the benefit of the fountain. But I didn't want the fountain right in the middle of the frame and I wanted to show the steps, statues and house. So consider it another 'record shot' dear boy.

A strange day, computer-wise. A close friend is very annoyed that WUforums have started attaching adverts to individual posts and isn't going to contribute anymore until they stop the practice. When I looked into it I found that where I had included the words 'computer' 'laptop' 'Wi-Fi' etc., the words were now bold and underlined and, if hovered over, produced a linked 'pop-up'. I composed a 'post' complaining that I felt I had copyright over my own words and objected to them being used in this way. Even Google is polite enough to put their 'related advertising' in a separate column, not inside the email itself. But eventually it was pointed out to me that according to a specific clause in the rules, the site-owners have the right to use a 'post' in anyway they choose. Others pointed out that it was up to me to install an efficient 'adblocker'. So, by early evening, I went on Open Forum and ran up a white flag

Thursdays is Yvonne's Burton Joyce 'grannying' day and I took her to the tram as usual. A charming incident took place. The tram she boarded was in fact the one before the one she intended and it wasn't quite 9.30am. She tendered her money but the conductor refused it and said "By the time I've been up the tram and come back it will be 9.30am and free". Who said the age of chivalry is dead ? She had a lovely day and is now Millicent's big buddy. She rushes to Yvonne with little arms outstretched and one would need a heart of stone not to pick her up - tiring though it is. Children can be so sensitive ! Hannah now gives me a sort of thigh-hug so I don't need to try to bend down to kiss her. When I arrived to pick Yvonne up they were playing footie in the garden and she was rushing about and kicking goals like a 20yr old. Lisa made me a hot drink and I sat and chatted to her about her cleaning-lady who is starting after Whit. Lisa has been reluctant, feeling that it is her role to deal with the house. But I made the point that I bet no previous occupants had done such a large house all by themselves. Lisa told me that originally the house had had servants, and when they first moved in someone researching their family-tree had a relative who had lived there. And that would be before the house was extended.

I had, as usual, put Jacket Potatoes in the oven, timed to be ready when we arrived back, and on Bungus's recommendation had used Estima as an alternative to my favoured Desiree or Maris Piper. He is certain to read this and it gives me no pleasure to say "they were rubbish". I prepared them exactly the same, gave them the same oven-time and temperature but, in comparison, the skins, instead of being crisp and crunchy were at best 'leathery'. Perhaps there is a secret.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Super Day - Renishaw Hall - Can't fault it.

Top marks to Yvonne for spotting the words 'Renishaw Hall' and 'Bluebell Woods' in the Saga magazine which, I'm afraid to say, we subscribe to. We live so close - 3 Motorway junctions up the M1 and maybe 20+ miles away, and we had never heard of it. It is an early 17th Century Hall, and the family home of the Sitwells. The house is only open by special arrangement but the gardens and woods are open March to October and certain days of the week only. There is an interesting museum and art galleries plus the inevitable Cafe - of which more later.

It was very easy to find and took us maybe 35 minutes even with the motorway being busy. And what a joy when we got there ! The light was good but my very best photographic efforts don't do justice to the beauty of the bluebell woods. I guess I could have tried a panorama but I don't feel at ease with that programme yet. I took plenty of frames though and even though I've already had a good cull there are several that look 'blogworthy'. It is apparently possible to 'link' sounds into one's Blog but I don't believe it's possible, yet, to 'link' smells. I only wish it were because the scent from acres and acres of uninterrupted bluebells was incredible. For me, being normally selective, I took loads of pictures. 50plus which I have now edited down to 30 with more probably to be axed, when I've thought about them abit more. Also unusually for me I upped my pixel count to 2048 x 1536 instead of my normal 1600 x 1200 thinking a larger than normal print might be called for.

One great thing about the place was the provision of frequent benches and alcoves and things to sit on. Walking for me is difficult at the best of times - impossible at others! But with such a plethora of seats I could get round in 20 yard bursts. We found one super place, under a laburnum arch (not in flower yet of course) and must have sat there for the best part of an hour. Papers, magazines, coffee and lots of just 'sitting and enjoying'. Everything about the place 'sang'. The woodland paths were neat and filled with wood-chip and we didn't see any litter at all.

The cafe was very nice too and we both had superbly cooked meals. And the staff were so pleasant and cheerful and provided us with two glasses of plain tapwater without demur to go with our food. We went once, and I stress the once, to a restaurant who refused and insisted we buy a commercial bottle of water. After a break and a chat and a look at the photos so far (ah! the magic of digital photography) we had a pot of tea and a cake. I know. I know - perhaps next week.

The motorway was even busier on the drive back and when I checked my computer there were 14 emails. And, hoping against hope, that it isn't so - Google Mail keeps telling me I have the symptoms of a virus and asks me to copy out a 'security code' before letting me access my account. Bearing in mind the trouble Ray has recently had, and he is much better equipped to know what to do. I'll see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Turned out Gorgeous - after Dodgy start

A seasonal picture. But not this year's and certainly not our garden wisteria but Hampton Court Palace's which we visited last May. My camera and 'clever clever Windows XP' tells me I took it on 11.05.2005 and even tells me the time I took it and the exposure and shutter speed. But I won't bore you..... "Why change the habits of a lifetime ?" I can hear Mrs. Radiogandy saying. The light wasn't brilliant and the result is just abit 'blocky' but we thought it was probably the best wisteria we'd ever seen. So full of flower !

Back to today. Not a promising start and chilly enough to justify the central-heating on for an hour around 7am by which time we were both up. There is a loose manhole-cover in the road outside and even though it's about 40 yards from Yvonne's window each time a vehicle goes over it, it makes an almighty clank. The Council's best efforts so far involve painting a big blue arrow on the road surface to show where it is. As it's about 2ft square I would have thought the repairers would have been able to find it anyway. Not to worry.

I took Yvonne to her hair-appointment and it's her last one with the particular girl, who is leaving to have a baby. Yvonne had taken a little present for the baby and the girl was quite touched. After that, as we were near, we decided on a mooch round Matalan which we both like. Yvonne checks out the ladies/children sections while I do the mens/kitchens bits. Their Xantos brand is suprisingly good for shirts, T shirts etc., and I found 2 blue shirts 18" neck 50" chest, complete with breast-pocket, reduced from £8 to £6 for the twin-pack. As a "dedicated follower of fashion" as The Kinks hit said, I can't be too careful. So I bought them and sod the expense. Matalan was followed by Morrisons. But I must watch it, lest I over-excite my readers. I spoke to David this morning and it is so distressing to hear of JD either in a wheelchair, or on crutches on a good day. He is, however, managing to do some night-club consultancy work (which he does know about) but to have MS at his age ! We also rang Tracy - her 44th birthday, and sang 'happy birthday' to her. Some traditions are essential in families !

For main meal I made a tagliatelli Carbonara. Which involved eggs and cream and while it was full of flavour we both thought it a little rich for us. The architect of the recipe had not reckoned in the richness of our local eggs I think! I got the recipe off the net, the Ready Steady Cook site and as I've never rated the programme anyway I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised.

Lots of news I've not really got room for. Perhaps tomorrow. Poor Ray had let a 'friend' use his PC only to find afterwards, Viruses, Trojans and loads of other nasties abounding. He has fixed most of it but posted a Highjack This log for an MOT by our extremely busy, volunteer WUforums experts.

If the weather holds we plan to go to Renishaw Hall tomorrow to see the bluebells which apparently are magnificent. Hopefully some piccies. Renishaw Hall is up the M1 to 30 and then towards Sheffield. So not very far.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Chilly wet day - Offer for Bungalow

I felt I couldn't really leave the Don Williams Concert without these two pictures.

Notices prohibited photography or recording during the performance and I honoured that, but many ignored it. The right hand picture was taken while everyone was waiting and the left hand picture was from the pavement afterwards. It shows not the Royal Concert Hall but the cinema-complex opposite and is an impressively colourful spectacle after dark.

I went up to Burchall & Edwards to chase up the particulars, which still hadn't arrived in the post, though promised. Apparently there were errors in them and they had to be done again. No picture of the front of the bungalow for one thing, which seems like a substantial omission. I think Estate Agents deserve their reputation, but we had such high hopes this time. Having said that, this afternoon they rang to tell us the yesterday's people had made an offer. They had, but it was £20,000 below our rock-bottom asking price. We decided to decline for the present and to wait and see what the next few weeks brings. It was only put on the market with these agents on May 3rd after all.

The weather has not been May-like and if it wasn't for the colour you could believe it was November. The temperature was 8C this morning and hardly rose above 10 and it rained more-or-less steadily all day.

Not much to Blog really today. We had our cold pork at lunchtime and I made some broccoli and stilton soup for this evening. With part-baked rolls naturally.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

House Viewers - Wet and Cold

No apologies necessary for another picture of Moorgreen Reservoir, this time quite early on a misty morning.

So beautiful that I feel sure that DHL would have something to say about it; in words more elegant than mine. It was one of his favourite haunts. I cropped and enlarged the water birds and Bob assures me they are 'tufted ducks' which I am quite pleased about.

The weather has been quite unpleasant, cold and wet and although the garden looked good for our house-viewers at 9.30am, it didn't look at its persuasive best. They had a quick look round but didn't seem at all interested and Yvonne isn't hopeful. But you never can tell, and I reminded her about our lack of initial enthuisiasm for 199 and we went on to love the house.

I cooked leg of Pork, roast potatoes, carrots, brussels, yorkshires, stuffing balls and proper gravy using the bottoms from the roasting tin and it was lovely. Yvonne has her own jar of apple-sauce because I don't like it. To me, the proper accompaniment for stewed apple is custard. After lunch we decided, in spite of the rain, to go house-mooching - in Mapperley this time which we hadn't yet explored. It is NG3 instead of NG5 and although Yvonne doesn't want to live in Carlton there are some very nice roads, on the top near Plains Road. We didn't see our dream house though and when we arrived home Yvonne said "We haven't seen anywhere as nice as this have we?" If only we could transport it to the Arnold area and plonk it in a plot about the size of our front garden. Ah well !

This evening we watched the second episode of The Impressionists and had a sandwich and a pot of tea during it. It is rather good but concentrates on Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir and Cezanne. No mention, so far at least, of Pissaro and Sisley both favourites of ours. There is just one episode to go, next Sunday, so I guess they will make an appearance then. Hardly any computer-time today. I have neglected emails, Google Talk to Ray, and sorting out Pictures. I'll catch up tomorrow.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Lovely May Morning - Arnold Art Exhibition - Rain

A beautiful May morning. Blue sky with a hint of mist. Only 18c, on the Air Ministry Roof - so just a tad cooler. Joan rang last night to say that she had tickets to the Arnold Art Club exhibition so we decided to join her. We went last year and were impressed by the quality of the work and this year's exhibits were well up to standard.

For the benefit of readers who don't know Yvonne and me, the couple in the picture on the right are not us, but friends of Joan's. I know I shall be open to criticism for not positioning them in the frame better but (a) I couldn't very well ask them to move, could I? and (b) just to the right of the display panel was an ugly door and fire-extinguisher. The picture on the left is for a cat-loving reader in Wales. The painting is extremely good, but inevitably entitled "Kitten on the Keys". Ah well ! I only know of Blake who could write as well as he could paint.

After tea & cakes (delicious lemon drizzle-cake in my case) we decided to look at an interesting bungalow on the outskirts of Arnold which appealed because it backed onto open country and a super view and the price was temptingly low! It was a good job we had Joan's local knowledge because the 'open view' would not be there in the future because a housing-estate is going to be built there under plans already approved by John Prescott. If only the old goat had stuck to groping secretaries rather than tearing down Victorian Terraces and approving buildings in open country. I speak in jest - and have no wish to annoy my lady readers, because I don't really approve of groping secretaries - it is just bullying; I bet he didn't try it on with any political equals. GOSBN (Getting off soap-box now).

One of the reasons for going to Joan's yet again, was that she had made me a pochette for my little Casio Compact to replace the one Yvonne had made me out of duster-material. Unfortunately the duster in question had been bought from a door-to-door youngster and was not of the finest quality. In consequence - it wore out. Joan loves these sort of little jobs and her machine and had fashioned me a stronger one in denim. She thought it has a certain 'butch' look, and we all agreed that that was just what I needed !!

By the time we had arrived home and had lunch it was starting to cloud over and by 3pm it was raining. Burchell & Edwards rang to say that a lady buyer would like to look at the bungalow tomorrow morning at 9.30am. So quick ! Let's just hope. Yvonne went on lawn-dandelion patrol and I started to tidy up. Not such a big job this time because at least half of the stuff I moved out into the garage or the caravan, has never come back in. I suppose we do surround ourselves with unnecessary clutter.

Re the Blog. I asked Ray to read a 'post' where 'comments' had been added, to see if anyone could access other people's, as I mentioned yesterday. He did; and they can ! So, for the benefit of potential contributors, others will be able to see what you have said. Having said that, 'comments' will be most welcome and I think that it is good that they go into a sort of permanent record. And I don't have to trawl back, because I have arranged my 'settings' so that, if a comment is added, I get an email. Re today's Blog and John Prescott, Ken Coates told me, under similar cirumstances many years ago, "You've not accused him of anything illegal so it's not libel. It's just common abuse that is, and that's OK". I often wonder how Ken is. Now I'm so much better I must try to contact him.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Beautiful Day Again - The Ford

This is Beanford Lane and we sometimes come back that way from Burton Joyce. When the children were very young they thought going through the ford was very daring and exciting. Maybe they still like it - we do. Apparently Tracy likes to come that way too. I hope the weather in Barcelona is as good for her holiday as it has been here.

An interesting fact about Beanford Lane is that it is closed for about one week each year because some toads migrate from country on one side of the road to country on the other. And we wouldn't want hundreds of squashed toads would we? Please don't ask me what type of toad, because I can't remember.

And no download problems with the todays's picture either.

Brian emailed to say they were back from their Scottish holiday and that their weather hadn't been very good, but they had had a restful break. We have pencilled in (faintly) Monday 15th for a potential get-together. Brian is going through that period which besets most of us, of an ageing Mum who needs a steadily increasing amount of attention. David emailed last night asking for Tracy's postal address as they have lost their hard-copy address book and needed to send her a birthday-card. It will be a little late now - but it is the thought that counts.

We did our weekly shop today and managed to restrict ourselves to Lidl and Morrisons at Bulwell which we prefer to the local one. Bob emailed me and commented on our 'action packed life' - National Trust meetings, Country & Western Concerts, and a new Toaster and wondered what future excitements could be in store -"two trips to Lidl in one day" - he wittily offered. Yvonne pulled all the flowers off the dandelions in both lawns and improved the look muchly, for potential buyers. Karen really needs to come and mow as soon as possible. But she knows about it and will turn up as she gets time. Don't know if Ray has finally solved is Walagata problem - at the last shout, it was his Maxthon browser causing the trouble, but he seemed sure of fixing it. As soon as I've completed this Blog, I'll call him up on 'Talk' and see how he is getting on.

Bob has asked me, if he enters 'comments' in my Blog, can they be read by other 'subscribers'? I simply don't know the answer and I might ask Ray to read a blog-post of mine, to which I know Bob has added comments, and see if he can get at them.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Lovely Warm Day - 22C plus!

Again, I uploaded this image quite early so as to overcome potential cussed-ness on 'blogger's' part. And yet again, it uploaded without a squeek of protest. And, to push my luck still further, I uploaded it as 'large' but it still only took it maybe 3 seconds.

The picture by-the-way is the view from the top of Nelson's Column and was captured by Front Row's intrepid presenter John Wilson, assisted by his game young producer Ansiya Lodhi. They both climbed the scaffolding which has been erected to allow stone-masons to carry out essential remedial work on the old fellow's face and hat. The National Gallery is centre-foreground. No doubt you experts on our capital city will be able to name all the major buildings, but I can't I'm afraid.

Today is Yvonne's Burton Joyce grannying day and also Lisa's birthday. The plan is, due to Hannah and Miles both now being at School, that Yvonne will be left in sole-charge of Millicent while Steve takes Lisa out for lunch. Yvonne will be tired but happy. The weather has been really quite warm but with a slight breeze to make it pleasant. After I had dropped Yvonne at the tram I messed about taking some more Moorgreen Reservoir pictures but managed to get my camera stuck in 'flower picture' mode. I thought it through and found that the only way to fix it was to take the settings back to 'reset defaults' and then reprogramme it with my own settings. No problem really and it took me maybe 3 minutes.

We are having jacket-potatoes and salad for evening meal. It is so easy to put them in the oven on auto-timer before I set off to collect Yvonne and programme it to deliver perfectly baked pots. on our return. I still use the trusty Delia method of, Maris Piper or Desiree, for preference, slightly smeared with olive-oil and dusted with salt. They always come out with crisp jackets as we like them and fluffy insides. Perhaps more later.

When we arrived home the new Burchall Edwards (Estate Agents) for-sale sign was up and it looked much better. Maybe 1ft shorter than the other one and sort of 'sturdier' also the Halifax sign had been taken away. So, lets hope things start to move. On the 6pm news there was a short report saying that house-prices had started to rise again. Typical for us - we drop our price the day before a surge upwards is reported. Never mind - "more encouragement to potential buyers" I say !! During the evening I found that Google 'Talk' had packed up on me and unable to send, I was locked into 'signing in' mode. Ray is having Walagata problems; Bob's friend can't download Picasa onto a brand-new computer, and WUforums seems particlarly full of PC sufferers. Maybe we should all go back to pencil/paper, film/prints and the telephone. On the other hand - perhaps not.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Don Williams - Farewell Tour

Started my Blog early again, because, anticipating picture-upload problems I decided to upload the picture of Don Williams before going to the Concert rather than on our return.

In fact I needn't have worried, blogger dealt with it almost immediately. And it was a large pixel count publicity-poster, for his farewell tour. The old boy still looks pretty good - let's hope he can still sing. But his music has brought Yvonne and I so much pleasure over the years even if his voice has gone off abit we shall still enjoy it. The audience will too. The last time we saw him all those years ago he only needed to play the first chords of "You're my best friend" and the audience sang the rest of the song for him.

I'm going to break off now and finish later.

It's the following morning now and I'll complete my entry. Did'nt we have a super-super time!! He was great and still in remarkably good voice. He wears glasses now, bless him ! - don't we all? and looked quite charming - didn't know that spectacles and a stetson could go together. He included most of the 'golden oldies' and it was good to see that most of his original group are still with him, in particular Mike Noble (high harmony) and Charles Cochrane (keyboards). As Yvonne said, they had a certain 'veteran' look, but they must all get-on well together to have stuck together over all these years. And the pressures of a 'tour' like the current one must be heavy when you are late sixties. I know we are a few years older but we are 'lost in admiration'.

About the rest of the day. Lovely and warm. In the morning, as we were going over to see Joan, we called in to deliver Tracy's Birthday Card because it had glittery and upraised bits which would have suffered in the post. We certainly didn't drop by un-announced because, like the rest of our family, we don't approve of taking folks by surprise. She is going down to Debra's later in the morning and then off to Barcelona for her girlie-break. Then onto Joan's and out to lunch. We went to The Traveller's Rest instead of the TreeTops and had a very pleasant meal. I was a little annoyed when they wouldn't serve me my lemonade in a pint beer glass (which I could see that they had, because people were drinking beer from them at the bar). They would only serve it me in a half-litre glass which wasn't at all what I wanted. Yvonne asked me her customary "Does it matter?" question to which I replied "Yes. To me it does".

After leaving the pub we 'found' Mapperley Orchard, a sort of crescent with lots of nice bungalows. I say 'found' and not 'discovered' because Bob would no doubt point out that Mapperley Orchard was 'discovered' by Christopher Columbus in 1598. It's no doubt why Bob and I enjoy each-other's company. A meeting of 'pedants-anonymous' every time. When we had dropped Joan we drove home the pretty-route and the hedge-rows and trees and thriving crops all look gorgeous. Forty shades of green isn't restricted to Ireland.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

New Estate Agent - Fingers Crossed

I am 'posting' this picture early, i.e around 17.29hrs to be sure to upload it without too much hassle. No real problems with the upload but to begin with I got 'this page cannot be displayed'. But when I tried again having ticked the 'small' button it loaded easily. It is easier to load 'small' and then to stretch to 'medium' than start off at 'medium'. But there seems little doubt that the quality suffers. Continued messing-about until I stumble upon the best solution, is probably the best way forward.

We are at Mansfield National Trust monthly meeting this evening and I couldn't face a tussle with on my return. It is easy to edit the Blog when we get back.

The aim of the picture is to show people how easy it is to root things in a stem-glass even at this time of year. This is our favourite Basil - 'Minette' - which, although small-leaved has the best of flavours and it has rooted in plain water at normal room temperature.

This afternoon our new Estate Agent, Burchell Edwards, came to bring the valuation up to date and to discuss precisely that. We have decided to drop the asking price considerably to a figure that their lady assured us would attract interest. We really do want to move now and to 'get on' with our lives. It does seem that prices, in this area at least, have dropped in the past 2 years. That's life though!.

This morning we did some shopping and bought a new toaster. Before ditching the old one I checked fuse, wiring etc., but it just seemed to have given up. And we both like the look of the new one and it works fine. A nice touch is a little lever which pushes the cooked toast further up the slots to facilitate getting the slices out.

Mansfield National Trust was good again - a talk about the Pyrenees - with slides of course. And Yvonne dropped effortlessly into her new role as raffle-lady, and I have found my niche as chief ticket-stub folder. The next highlight is the Morecombe trip towards the end of the month and we are both looking forward. Jean is kindly allowing us to park on her drive and I've agreed to pay for the taxi - which Jean is going to organise for 8.15am.

Bob has sorted the 'putting comments into the Blog' problems but I keep getting these Mailer-Deamon messages which I don't actually understand.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Hold the Front Page - Country Park discovered !

Blogger can be a bogger at times. Uploading these pictures has been the very devil and taken me at least 20 minutes which, to us bloggers, seems like an eternity. And then, when I stopped getting 'this page cannot be displayed' the pictures were there, repeated 7 times.

Amazing when you have lived in an area for 15 years that you can discover something new but we have. Neither of us had ever been to Burnstump Country Park which is about 200 yards from where I used to work. Yesterday evening we had driven along Sherwood Lodge Lane to find somewhere to park so that I could get out the car and ease my leg-ache. And there it was ! So when the sun came out this afternoon we decided to go and explore, and it's lovely. A gem. Very reminiscent of Clumber, with a little pond, woodland walks and a playing field surrounded by picnic tables. It was nice to see young people playing footie with lots of shouting. That's what they are supposed to do. Yvonne shot off a couple of times to explore highways and byways. She was reassured by the presence of young ladies by themselves walking dogs. In fact there was a complete cross-section of ages and we shall definitely go again. Considering that it is Bank Holiday Monday it wasn't at all overcrowded. When we got home I researched it on Google Earth and MultiMap and, as the crow flies it is only a mile or so from Dorkett Head a landmark for our, hopefully, new home.

Picture 2 instantly reminded me of one of my favourite Gerard Manley Hopkins quotes :
"Glory be to God for dappled things
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow,
For rose-moles all in a stipple upon trout that swim"

[Pied Beauty]

If we stop the car to make a drink when we are on holiday, we always hope for a quiet spot with a little dappled sunlight. Perfick !

For lunch we had the cold gammon with a salad followed by Yvonne's signature dish 'Orange Jelly with Mandarin segments suspended in it. Does a phrase including the words 'second childhood' spring to mind? Never mind, we aren't releasing foreign criminals from prison instead of deporting them, and we aren't making a balls-up of the NHS and we aren't having affairs with our secretaries. So there. This morning was cold and not too promising so, although it remained cold it was a suprise to have the afternoon sun. This morning I downloaded a prog. from a link on WUforum called 'Quick shutdown' which apparently will safely zap anything that's stuck, and although I've not needed it yet, it sounds great. One guy rather huffily said that he didn't want to download a programme to compensate for something his computer should have been doing in the first place. I suppose he's got a point but most of us get so irritated by 'programme not responding' messages, it sounds like a godsend.

Bob sent me some good pictures of the swan's nest and eggs (which I could easily see) and his grebes (which I could see magnificently). Just as an experiment later on I'm going to find them and try Blog This and see if it will insert them into the text. So I sent him some back, of Burnstump, and timber which I have asked if he can identify. Caroline (Hello_There) arrived out of the blue on Google Talk this morning and we exchanged pleasantries. Ray said later that he didn't think she had the full download. But he will sort it. He always does.