Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Small town

Today I travelled up to London to do some training on a database we use at work. It finished at 12.30 leaving me the rest of the day in London. Hurray! I had lunch in the refectory at Southwark Cathedral (can I just say I have rarely had disappointing eating experiences in Cathedral refectories.) Then I went to a lovely exhibition of Renaissance drawings at the British Museum. Who did I chance upon at this exhibition but Linda! We have decided that we need never email or phone to make arrangements because we will simply meet up through telepathy!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Before I get to the subject is Mike trying to leave the country? Because this is the first time I've ever heard of all airports being closed because of volcanic ash and he does seem to court bizarre transport issues.
But anyway, gardening. I really hate it. It is a nice day here and the weeds are waiting for removal but yet I am in here on the computer and after that I will do some hoovering. Because gardening is like housework outdoors but worse. You get scratched, there is dirt under your nails, your back and/or knees hurt and there are yucky creepy crawlies. Don't get me wrong, I adore a lovely garden, but I just don't like being involved in the process of creating it.
Here's the thing though, my keen gardening freinds and neighbours feel the need to change my opinion with the religious zeal of a Jehovah's witnesses. They keep giving me cuttings or bulbs and I suspect they think that I will suddenly see the light. I know they are being kind and I am being churlish but to me it's as if somebody gave me a new duster so that I would finally do something about the dust on my ventian blinds.
Actually, nearly everyone I know seems obsessed with gardening. People at work will go "Ooh the weather is good - I will get on in the garden this weekend, at last". And again, like a religion, gardeners will keep talking to each other in Latin. Even Helen, who actually was the worst gardener in the world, now has Mum's gardening talents reincarnated in her has become quite enthusiastic.
My neighbour - who is a lovely neighbour, often gives me cuttings and bulbs and I have to plant them conspicuosly and water them as she can see the garden from her house. Sometimes I send Trev to bring the washing in in the evening in case she gives me bulbs (actually, that is largely because she could talk for Britain. Seriously, if it were an olympic sport Nic would get a distant silver to her gold!) Anyway, the other day we were given some bulbs by our neighbour and I asked Trev to plant them. His enthusiasm for gardening matches mine but he did so in the front garden -right next to our neighbour's drive. Later on in the week we noticed that the neigbour had run over theem in their car! Still, she gave Trev some more bulbs last week when I sent him to get them washing so I think I should just accept the kindness and be grateful it's bulbs and not dusters I'm getting.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Technology gone mad!

In sci fi films and the original Star Trek series every so often there would be a computer/robot that was too big for it's boots and started taking over the joint. The only way to conquer this machine was to give it an unsolvable problem. So Captain Kirk would say something like "I am lying". The computer/robot would start talking in a high pitched voice, smoke would come out of it and sometimes it would twirl around until finally it died. Uppity technology put in it's place by a quick thinking twinkly eyed homo sapiens.
Well, yesterday we had our own bit of technology gone mad. It will probably surprise nobody to know it was our SatNav. Now you would think we knew better but every so often it is really useful. We were off on a walk in the Chilterns and sometimes it is hard to find the beginning of a walk. I must say, I started losing faith when it took us on a bizarre route through Luton- not the one I had plotted on the map but I thought it might know something I didn't. Apparently not! Right through the town centre and then the town centre of Dunstable. If you have never been to Luton or Dunstable, I wouldn't bother, you haven't missed much. Anyway, having got to Dunstable Downs which are on the edge of the Chilterns, we could really appreciate their beauty after the ugliness of the two towns! But when we got near our destination the GPS went mad. It kept going "Turn right, turn right,turn right" On and on and there wasn't a right turn. Luckily it has no control over us or the car so we didn't end up with a Hal/2001 situation and simply turned it off.
The walk was outstanding and I would recommend it to anyone. Along the Ridgeway with amazing views. Really a perfect walk with no naff road bits which you sometimes get in circle walks And it ended in a tea shop at a visitors centre where there were clean toilets. Bliss! I have included some photos.

The white chalk lion is at Whipsnade zoo

I have included some more links to Erin's travels. They are of her jungle trek in Thailand and her couple of weeks in Laos. Laos, according to Wikipedia, is the most bombed country in the world. It had more bombs landing on it in the Vietnam war then all the countries in the World War II. Anyway, it is very beautiful apparently, but what seemed to impress Erin the most was that the French influence has meant that you get really good cakes. I think there are more photos of cakes than countryside on her Facebook pages. I have not included them here.When I spoke to her yesterday she and Heather were catching a bus to Hanoi that would take 22 hours. She is probably still on it now.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Washing machine crisis!

Thursday night last week, and I was heading for bed.

A shout comes up from downstairs.

"Mum! Water is shooting out of the washing machine!" yelled Adam.


I didn't actually see the water shooting out of the soap dispenser as Adam had turned the machine off by the time I got downstairs, however the floor was soaking. Luckily the washing machine is in the garage, so it could have been a lot worse. We made sure it was off and went to bed (that took nearly an hour).

Friday morning while having the early morning tea in bed I was on the internet looking at new washing machines. The last time I spent money on the old one I said I would spend no more on it, so it was for the chop. I have gone for one with a bigger drum than the old one because Nic creates huge amounts of washing (working outdoors etc) and a high spin speed (drying quicker). Then Brian and I got up and went downstairs to wrestle with the washing machine. Eventually he managed to get it out and the cold water inlet pipe turned off, but the hot water one wouldn't turn. He got the waste pipe off and we drained a bit of the water out of the machine into a bucket, but not much of it I tried opening the door and it did open, though it shouldn't have because there was lots of water in there, but we caught lots of it in a sort of large bucket/washing basket thing. The we had a cup of tea and Brian worked out how to turn off the hot pipe, we then manhandled the washing machine out. The we chucked out the carpet from that part of the garage.

After a coffee I ordered the washing machine we had decided on and it was delivered on the Saturday, a 2 hour time slot was given and they were within that - really excellent service!

Carl plumbed it in for me, and it has been working away today!

However as I had to put a new exhaust on the car on Thursday as well April has started off as a very expensive month!!!

Kitchen sink drama

This is rather a random post really but it does include a kitchen which has a sink, although there was not much drama really - but it could be argued that I was unnecessarily dramatic about it all!
To start off here is a picture of two blonds on an elephant.

I am sure there is a joke in there somewhere but I'd rather not hear it. This is part of Erin and Heather's jungle adventure in Thailand. They have now left Thailand and are in Laos. You might all be amused to know that the hair straighteners have now finished their world trip and are back in Essex!

Closer to home and infinitely less interesting here is progress on the kitchen. It really is one of the most disruptive things ever. We had to store the kitchen units the week before and empty the kitchen too. So the new units were in the computer room and the garage, the car had to live on the street and the computer was discombobulated and put in Kieran's room. The kitchen filled Erin's room, the spare room, and the sitting room. Luckily, we can both eat at work so we survived pretty well with just bottled water, a kettle and a toaster functioning but I wouldn't like to have gone on for more than a week. My admiration to all these people who undertake major projects - they are clearly made of more Stirling stuff than me!
The kitchen is mostly done now but the work surface and the sink will be fitted in 3 weeks time and the alarmingly wobbly larder unit is being replaced and then we need to choose tiles and flooring. We had Kevin the carpenter and Brian the builder and we have been recommended to use Tim the Tiler. Gotta love alliteration!

Here is the kitchen in it's present state.

Finally, we went for a walk on the Stour estuary and were surprised to see this!
It is the remains of Richard Branson's transatlantic balloon.

Apparently his recently deceased co pilot lived in the village.
We were also pleasantly surprised to see a sweet chestnut wood full of Wood Anemones.
It was actually more spectacular than this photo looks.
We also spotted this posh school on the other side of the river.
It looks a bit like Greenwich (from a distance, anyway)