Saturday, 30 April 2011

Not the Royal Wedding News...

To escape from all things Royal and Wedding-ish, we went to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire yesterday.  There were quite a few people there obviously trying to do the same as us, but it was still empty enough to get some photos without having to dodge pedestrians.  In the afternoon I had to take Ben for his check-up only for him to be insulted by the vet who said he was 'ridiculously old'! Ben was affronted to say the least, and not pleased to learn that he has to have a dental a week on Monday.

Some of you may remember that my friend Helen and I took part in the Shakespeare Hospice Moonlit Walk last year. As I'm donating my photo for their use on a Christmas card this year, and as my sister is the Events Fundraiser for Rainbows Children's Hospice, this year we've decided to take part in Rainbow's Walk of Life. It takes place on the 22nd May and it would be great if you felt able to support us in our efforts - I have a Just Giving page set up at for those I can't menace in person :O) 

At the National Memorial Arboretum

At the National Memorial Arboretum

At the National Memorial Arboretum

At the National Memorial Arboretum

At the National Memorial Arboretum

At the National Memorial Arboretum

Thursday, 28 April 2011

It's been a bit manic...

Yes I know, I know... I've been sadly lacking in the posting department but it really has been pretty non-stop here.  I finally got a breathing space by having a week off work (hurrah!), although I usually avoid taking time off during school holidays like the plague.  Anyway, what's been happening?
- Well I read Dissolution, which is wonderful (very Name of the Rose), and am now onto Dark Fire.
- The new lady is settling in really well at work and we all get on with her which is great.
- We went down to Grafton Underwood in Northants again and I got quite a few pictures of sheep for some reason.
- We went up to Crich in Derbyshire at the weekend where they had a 1940s day, and I got a few photos, it really is a lovely place.
- Pepper went to the vets for her boosters yesterday and got frightened by an over-friendly dog who stuck his nose in at her cat carrier (apart from that she's perfectly healthy thank goodness).
- Posky has been referred for acupuncture for the arthritis in his paws and we're waiting to hear when he has to go, I will try and get some photos of the event!

Those blue remembered hills...
'What are those blue remembered hills?...'
Not a Shropshire Lad, but a re-enactor
at Crich helpfully posing in scenic setting.

Synchronised lambs posing in Northants...

Stained glass window in the Church at Grafton Underwood...

'If you prick us do we not bleed?'
Posky ponders the benefits of acupuncture...

David in b&w (and looking quite mean and moody even though he wasn't!)

Miscreants Inc...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Booking Through Thursday...

For more bookish thoughts go to Booking Through Thursday.

'Up until recently, people could browse your bookshelves and learn a lot about you - what your interests are, your range of topics, favourite authors, how much you read (or at least buy books).

More and more though, this is changing.  people aren't buying books so much as borrowing them from the library.  Or reading them on their e-readers or computers.  There's nothing PHYSICAL on the shelves to tell strangers in your home, for better or worse, who you ARE'.  Do you think this is a good thing? Bad? Discuss!

To answer the question, well I don't have many strangers in my home, but if I did there's plenty of evidence in the form of books to tell them who I am (although as I have a pretty eclectic collection they'd probably be hard-pressed to come up with a definitive character analysis!).

And I think people still buy books, I know I do.  I like browsing in bookshops, and I always make for the books in charity shops.  I like having the physical object in my hands, I like being able to scribble thoughts or notes as I'm reading.  I like being able to read in bed and not worry about a Kindle falling on the floor or onto my face!  I like old books in which a previous owner has left a forgotten postcard or list as a bookmark so that I get a peek into the life of another who has read and enjoyed it.  I just like books.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Monday Musings...

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!
(Home Thoughts from Abroad, Stanza I, by Robert Browning)

Glorious weather again this weekend, Ben was out in the garden, the cats were being sloths, and Cath and I took it into our heads to try out our new Nordic Walking poles at Bradgate Park.  Oh my!  If you want a good workout whilst going for a walk then this is what you need.  It was like being on a cross-trainer for an hour, although with much better views than you'd ever get at the gym.  We'd both stiffened up so much by the time we got to Starbucks on the way home that Cath was walking like John Wayne.  Oh how we laughed!  Nordic Walking also has the added benefit of making ordinary power walking feel like dancing on air, so we'll be definitely be doing it again.  (Talking of walking... we may be doing another walk for charity in May, this time for Rainbows Children's Hospice, as the half-sister works there as an Events Fundraiser.  What is worrying is that there is a super-hero theme for anyone who wants to dress up for it, and Cath's mind is veering towards Wonder Woman at the moment.).
Later on David and I went out for lunch (Nordic Walking gives you a heck of an appetite), and passed some newly erected wind turbines which I had to take a pic of.  They seem so incongruous set against the fields and pastures of rural England, and yet are so awe-inspiring.  The sheer size of them takes the breath away.

On the cat front... Mrs Pod found a filthy piece of string in the garden with a short stick attached to it.  This immediately became an object of desire for her.  Charlie wanted to get involved but was rebuffed (he then sulked and pretended he wasn't interested in it anyway), then Posky came out and started chewing it.  What is it with cats?  They have a basket of toys that they ignore and yet the smallest, most obscure thing can grab their attention for hours.

By the way, if you want to challenge your photography skills try taking a photo of extreme sunshine and shade, especially if a cat is involved!  I tried various exposure modes to get the pics of the cats in the garden - these were the most successful.  We won't talk about the others.

Oh to be in England #2...

Mrs Pod's paws
'String Theory - I haz it'.

Mrs Pod in profile
Mrs P shows how clean her ears are now...

Mrs Pod and flowers
Mrs P and the flowers...

Charlie and flowers
Charlie trying to show how he's not really interested in the piece of string...
it didn't work, we all knew the truth.

Mrs Pod in the sun
Mrs P demonstrating how our lawn needs mowing.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Booking through Thursday...

Just discovered this meme at Booking Through Thursday, and yes I know it's Saturday but what the heck.
This week's question is: 'So... the books that you own (however many there may be)... do you display them proudly right there in plain sight for all the world to see?  (At least the world that comes into your living room), or do you keep them tucked away in your office or bedroom or library or closet or someplace less "public"?'

My books are a part of me and who I am, my house would not be a home without them, so they're pretty much in every room I use.  I can't understand people who don't like having them in the house (one woman I knew wouldn't let her daughter keep books in the house as they looked untidy), to me it's like being surrounded by old friends.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Thursday Challenge - Soft...

Soft Focus Rose...

Mrs Pod looking soft and cuddly...
Mrs P is asleep on a blanket on a dining room chair under the table here...
I was actually crawling around on my hands on knees
 with my camera to get this - what larks!
(10 points to those who spot the literary allusion there :O))

David bought me some flowers (I think he realised that saying that the cats and I were boring was something of a faux pas... you especially don't want to be getting on the wrong side of the cats... if Charlie is annoyed it's likely he'll either rip your throat out whilst you're asleep, or vomit in your shoe - it's a technique for showing displeasure that I may have to try myself at some point).  They're so beautiful that I got slightly obsessed with taking photos of them - these are a little more in focus :O)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

More cat news...

First the good news... Mrs Pod's test results came back and her protein levels are now normal! The vet is very pleased and probably very relieved that she now doesn't have to meet Pod the vet killer again for another three months or so.  Posky's blood test has been rescheduled so he doesn't have to go for another few weeks either.  Charlie looks like he is getting fatter by the day but neither David nor myself have the courage to get him on the scales in case he takes offence.

And now the not so good... Cath phoned me last night to tell me her little cat Basil had to be put to sleep.  He's the one who had most of his teeth out a few weeks ago.  He was still having trouble eating and when the vet had a look in his mouth it was so swollen poor old Basil could hardly withdraw his tongue, and the diagnosis was cancer of the jaw.  He wouldn't have lived very long anyway so Cath took the decision there and then.  Rather a shock for everyone really, and Cath will miss him terribly.  He was the most cuddly and friendly of her cats and had been her companion for 15 years ever since she rescued him as a kitten with cat flu.  Hail and farewell Basil.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Cats on Tuesday... and other stuff

Spot the hairy slugs...

Mrs P was duly taken to the vets yesterday.  We had to hold the cat carrier vertically to try and shake her out, and even then she managed to wedge herself in and had to be dragged out.  She then hurled verbal abuse at everyone and dug her claws into the side of the table refusing to move, although amazingly she didn't make a murmur when the vet inserted a needle through her abdomen to remove urine from her bladder.  No, what she took great exception too was having her ears looked at (very clean, hurrah!), and then being placed on the scales.  She's put on a little weight which the vet was very pleased about, and which Mrs P didn't give two hoots about, in fact she was so annoyed with everything at this point that she tried to shove herself behind the vet's computer monitor, possibly trying to sabotage it.

At least she got to have a rest after all this - I had to go to work.  We had a very nice young lady in for an interview, no experience but very keen to learn.  We all held our breath - would this be the one?  But no! Our boss still can't make his mind up.  I finally escaped to go the hairdressers only to find her floating about on a sea of painkillers as she is suffering from sciatica.  I let her cut my hair anyway, it seems to be ok although I've not yet washed it so may find a few strange bits then.  Maybe I should have just asked for some of whatever she was on....

For more cats visit Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Monday Mewsings (and Musings)...

First the mews... I'll get it out of the way because David says I'm boring as I only ever talk about the cats.  Posky's test results came back showing normal levels of protein and creatinin in his urine which is very good news :O) He doesn't have to have any medication apart from his potassium supplement at the moment (as there is some problem with getting the tablets from the supplier right now he has to have a liquid, which he hates but is very good about taking).  I'm supposed to take both him and Mrs Pod to the vets first thing this morning for urine tests (and in Mrs P's case, a foolhardy vet wants to check her ears), but I had a very rough week with one thing and another, and then an even rougher weekend, plus a terrible night's sleep, so I really don't feel like wrestling with two reluctant cats.  Therefore Posky has a reprieve and it's just Mrs P to be man-handled into the cat basket.  I'll take Posky later in the week once my nerves have recovered, can't really vouch for the vet's though.

The last few weeks at work have been spent trying to sift through CVs and interview people for a new post.  You would not believe how difficult this has been.  We thought we'd found the right candidate only to have her tell us when she was offered the job that although she said she was completely flexible with regard to hours and days she could work, what she really meant was she was completely flexible but only if we gave her the exact hours and days she wanted, oh yes, and more money.  On Thursday we had a lady come in who obviously felt the job was beneath her and assumed immediately that she'd got it.  I can't really describe how unpleasant she was, so arrogant and unfriendly, and she wasn't even that good at it!  (I told my boss that if he hires her I am leaving).  Friday brought my ideal candidate, lovely lady, excellent skills (by this time I was ready to kiss her feet and beg her to stay), but my boss isn't sure... he wants us to interview someone else today.  At this point I and my colleagues just wanted to walk out en-masse and spend the afternoon in a dive drinking pina coladas... 

Yesterday I decided that I should get around to reading some of the books on my shelves that I've just not had time for yet, so I compiled a TBR list.
Cranford   Gaskell
Melmoth the Wanderer  Maturin
They Mystery of Edwin Drood  Dickens
The Aspern Papers  James
The Woodlanders  Hardy
To the Lighthouse  Woolf
Dark Matter  Michelle Paver
If on a Winter's Night a Traveller  Italo Calvino
Dissolution  Sansom
The Magnetic North  Sara Wheeler
The Sea, the Sea  Murdoch
The Master  Toibin
Wolf Hall  Mantell
Pale Fire  Nabokov
Reading after Theory  Valentine Cunningham

I've made a start and got though Pale Fire yesterday and also had a look at the Cunningham.  I can't really say I enjoyed the Nabokov enough to ever want to read it again, but I'm glad I made the effort.  It's certainly a very clever book, and the narrator is a wonderful creation; monstrous and funny, but I did have to skim some of his narrative as I just got bored with him.  He's supposed to be the editor of a poem called Pale Fire, but he's like no editor you've ever come across before. He's arrogant, obtrusive, opinionated, bitchy, and more interested in telling his own story than listening to another.  

Next I think it's Cranford for some nineteenth-century light relief (and no I've never seen the TV programme, I tried watching one of the Christmas specials once and after a few minutes felt I'd overdosed on a very sickly box of chocolates).

I shall now get ready for work, if I'm not back tomorrow morning I probably gave into the pina coladas and will have woken up in the park with a lampshade on my head and with no recollection of who I am or where I live!  Hurrah!


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