Monday, 28 March 2011

Brain dump

Thank goodness, I managed to get 550 words of Discussion down this evening in my qualitative research report. For the last week I've been going round in circles, changing my analysis themes and it just wasn't coming together and I was starting to panic.  Mind you I do that on every one - at some point in writing I decide that I Can't Do It and I have to get past that thought and put my mind to it. Let's hope the ICDI moment doesn't last too long in the exam!

Now I think I'm on track with this one so I'm very relieved.  I think there will  be a lot of editing at the end of though...

Django's presence has been requested in the office tomorrow so I guess I'll give him a treat and take him in either the morning or afternoon. I really need to cycle tomorrow sometime as I only have two days this week without medical / physio / dentist / haircut appointments to drive to.

We had another death in the office on Saturday... well not literally you understand, but my boss's mother died :-(  she was 87 and it was old age rather than anything specific, I think she just decided it was time to go. Let's hope that this run of mortalities among staff families is over for a while...

On a brighter note I saw the dental hygienist this morning, a breed normally known for terrorizing everyone who enters their room. But this one was very nice (may be something to do with being in a private practice). Admittedly she did some serious digging around in a couple of places but all in all said I was making a good effort - I felt like a kid who'd got a gold star at school!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Synchronising calendars

Last night Mr H and I sorted out when he would be having Django and when I will. It made me think of the friends and family who have wall-charts showing when each parent is going to have the children.. except that our arrangements are undoubtedly less traumatic.

So, the young man will be going up to Scotland for the summer, from the end of May to the beginning of September. I suppose it's rather like him 'taking a cottage for the summer' like families did in the old days - does anyone do that now?   It means he will be up there when I fly up for my birthday weekend which will be good; and leaves the summer free for me to go to sailing events without having to worry about him.

He'll be back down here from September to November - neatly coinciding with Mr H's trips south for hospital appointments and an Imelda May gig (ooh!).   Then back up north in November until Christmas.  

It makes the year seem very short, writing that.

Here is a picture of Django out on our walk this morning. No running around exploring for him when I stopped for a snack.. after he'd done some digging around in the bracken he took the opportunity for a kip!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Walking in the evening light

I love springtime because I have time to take Django for a proper walk after work, now that it's not getting dark until 6.30-ish.

Usually we go on foot down to the fields because it's easy, but tonight I drove down to the sea for a sunlit stroll around the marshes. Here are some photos for you to join us...

There are few better ways to wind down from work.

When I got home I logged onto the computer to print out some study stuff to read through, and discovered the mark for my TMA4 ready to collect.  82% which is my highest this year - I'm really pleased because I worked extra hard on that essay determined to get a higher mark and over 80%.

There are only two more to go: the qualitative report I'm working on at the moment, and a final essay.  Then it's all revision time until the exam on June 14th...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The innocence of youth

Had a funny moment in the office this afternoon, we were talking about companies persuading you to get insurance against things.  I mentioned credit card payment protection insurance and how expensive it is (which is why I never take it out). I explained to our 22 year old that it's not insurance for the items you've bought, but against losing your job and not being able to make the payments.

"Oh well," she said, "people shouldn't have so much on their credit card that they can't pay it if they lose their jobs."

To which the responses of those of us with rather more life experience was:

"Errr, in an ideal world..."

"Don't get a job with the National Debtline!"

Yes of course in a perfect world none of us would live beyond our means (either occasionally or regularly) or lose our jobs. 

Shame the world isn't perfect though, isn't it?

Monday, 21 March 2011

The permanent reminder

"Alive and Kicking"  :-)

It's a reminder to me not to be complacent about living life.

The new (green) tattoo is only 2 days old so it has yet to settle in.  The knots and butterfly I had done a couple of years ago and have their own meaning.. the new one is an extension of that.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

An apology... Carmi (Thematic Photographic) and Illustration Friday, and the other arty weekly things that I used to find time to take part in... I haven't for a while.   And it's not that I couldn't find the time, it's just that I've got out of the habit of waiting with baited breath to see what this week's subject is going to be... sadly this is what happened now I'm back in the office full time.  And my arty mojo seems to have gone A.W.O.L. now my head is full of science and psychology and stuff like that.

If I can do it occasionally if not every week, I hope that you won't hold that against me.

Enclosed walking and a brief history lesson!

Today Django and I went out for a walk to somewhere we don't normally go, a wooded area called Wilverley Enclosure.  The reason we don't normally go there is because it's very popular and the car park is always packed; we prefer places that are a little more exclusive.   However, today I went out without a coat and it just started spitting with rain as I was driving across the Forest so I decided woods would be a good plan. 

For those of you who get confused with talk of going 'across' the Forest and much of it not having any trees on it, here is an excerpt from a short history of the New Forest:
"Once established [in England, after the Battle of Hastings 1066], the new King William I began introducing his influence over the land and had created areas of land throughout the country that would be used as his personal deer and wild boar hunting grounds, a favourite royal pastime as well as ensuring a continued supply of fresh meat to the newly established Crown.  The southernmost of these areas, by all accounts, was one of the most frequented and enjoyed by King William and his men.
This particular area of land was designated and named as the New Forest, in the year 1079.
It's important to note though, that the word 'Forest' in this context doesn't reflect the usual meaning of the word. In this case, 'Forest' was used to describe an area of land that had been 'afforested' (purchased under law) and designated as land to be used for royal privileges, ie hunting. 
The name, New Forest, is a direct translation from the Norman Nova Foresta
Much of the New Forest is open heathland, but there are 84 sq km of Enclosures (or Inclosures). These are fenced off areas designated for growing trees for timber supply, including for the building of naval ships in the 18th C when the first Enclosures were created. The fencing was needed because of the number of animals that live wild in the Forest, who undoubtedly would be happy to nosh down on sweet little seedlings.
The 'greens' that I sometimes mention were, I believe, originally cleared for cultivation but I don't think were very fruitful.  Many of those that were all grass when I was young are rapidly being taken over by heathers now, so it would be interesting to see what the landscape looked like 1000 years ago when the Normans first arrived. 
The main track around Wilverley Enclosure is a very dull, gravel tourist track with waymarked walking and cycling trails.  However, for those brave enough to leave those, there are much more pleasant sandy and grassy trails through the trees which are much kinder to the feet, and more interesting.  Thanks to my trusty GPS we managed to have a 3 mile walk walk zig zagging and twisting around with the minimum time spent on gravel tracks, and get back to the right car park rather than end up on one the other side of the woods!
So, today's training was a very neat 3 mile, 1 hour, 3mph walk with a bit of meandering and looking at the larches sprouting new fronds. Spring-a-ding-ding, indeed.


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Six Word Saturday

Stinging skin for a permanent reminder

I'll explain later ;-)

The contrasts of Spring

Training 2
Location: Hinchelsea and Longslade Bottom
Miles: 2.64
Time: 50 mins
Average speed: 3.1 mph
Terrain: X-country

After a reasonably sunny week, Friday was a miserable, wet, cold in-your-bones day but the evening cleared to a beautiful full-moonlit night and a sky sparking with stars.  It gave me that feeling of wanting to run naked round the garden, but I didn't.

This morning dawned cloudless and frosty, but the sun coming up over the houses had warmth in it.  I had arranged to go and see a friend who was house-sitting and looking after horses at a farm out on the edge of the Forest, so I took expensive biscuits and we sat in the garden drinking tea, and chatted to a couple of the horses. 

It was a day that insisted on me being out of doors, there was no way it was going to allow me to be inside studying all day, so after leaving my friend to the stables' mucking-out I went and picked up Django and we headed out for a walk.   I didn't intend it to be 2-greens long, it just ended up that way. We walked up on the sandy path through the heather, through the woods and back along the greens. By this time it was midday and warmed up nicely, I had stripped off my fleece and Django needed a drink-stop at the 'oasis'.

So, I ended up doing almost an hour's walk, which made up for the fact that I skipped cycling to work yesterday because of the freezing cold rain.... That's the thing about springtime, you never know what you're going to pull out of the Weather Bag.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Second rung of the Juniper revival

The title of this article in Mr H's forestry magazine made me chuckle and I thought it appropriate to share... the text of the article is interesting but not relevant to my blog post!

Today I had a lovely peaceful and fairly productive day.. in the morning there were just three of us in the office, me and my two closest colleagues. Everyone else was out at a measurers' seminar we were running. This afternoon I had a couple of hours on my own. I had thought of going over to the seminar after lunch, but decided the opportunity to get some work done in peace was too good to miss!    Offices feel so different without the background noise of more computers on and people typing and talking.  

In the end I spent most of the afternoon struggling with formatting for an e-mail newsletter which I foolishly volunteered to edit.  But it was much easier to do without interruptions and hopefully I can get it sorted and sent out tomorrow.

I stepped onto the second rung of the revival ladder today and walked to the supermarket as I only needed a couple of things.  I made sure I used a basket and not a trolley so as not to accidently overload (it's never a good idea to impulse-buy loads of stuff and then remember you're walking home...!).   It took me about 15 minutes to walk home with one bag, which was ok. I can't remember how long it used to take me, but then I usually had about 4 bags to carry so probably not much different!

Tomorrow I plan to cycle to/from work at least once.  The fuel warning light just came on in the car, it's amazing what an incentive that is with petrol at £1.32 a litre....

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Today I got the letter advising me of my appointment with the medical expert for insurance purposes.   I'd been waiting for it so it wasn't a surprise, but when I opened it I realised how much I'm suddenly dreading it.  I know that it's for my own benefit, but on the 30th March I'm going to have to go through how the injury happened again, just has it had started fading.  One consolation is that hopefully this is the last time I will have to.

On your marks....

Location:  Longslade Bottom
Miles:  1.44
Time:  29 mins
Average speed:  3.0 mph
Terrain: X-country, one short uphill section.
Pain by the end:  6/10
Conversation stops adjusted for: 1 (an old Pointer-owner friend!)

OK, training has started!

Last spring I bought myself a personal GPS, a 'watch' type which straps on my wrist so is easy to use walking/cycling/running.   I didn't use it in anger except for a couple of runs I did, and for curiosity value on dog walks.  Today I have put new batteries in it and can monitor my progress.

And for what am I in training?   To get back to my previous fitness before the crash.  I might not have been a super athlete before but I was above average fitness/strength. I reckon it's going to take me the rest of this year and maybe then some.  

It's a daunting thought but at least I will get back to it.

Monday, 14 March 2011


My horoscope on Friday in our local paper read: "You can't work towards your goals if you're exhausted. It's time to make a more realistic schedule for yourself. By doing so you'll find your strength returns and progress will be made."

So obviously I took serious stock of this (ignoring the fact that it could apply to anyone, not just Geminis) and cycled to work today.  Only in the afternoon, so that was 1.5 miles there and 1.5 miles home.  The girls at work were agog when I turned up in my hi-viz jacket and cycling helmet after lunch - "You cycled....????"

I do have a couple of questions:

Firstly, who changed my saddle for a narrower one with no padding, hm??

Secondly, who put restrictor valves in my lungs?

Thirdly, is it normal to feel sick after cycling 1.5 miles?

I knew I would be unfit but that was the first exercise other than walking or stretching that I'd done in almost 9 months, and it hit home just HOW unfit I am. It's quite scary.  I didn't exactly bust a gut, but I didn't dawdle either.

So, I won't be cycling to work every day! But once or twice a week and building it up has got to be a good step in the right direction.

Other than that, I am rethinking my schedule and might try and wangle myself an extra half hour in bed....

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Spontaneity and settling down

Well, that was a different weekend to what I had planned!   as you might have gathered from my previous post, at 4.30pm on Friday I got a text that Mr H was on his way home - and he had only decided to come two hours previous to that - a real spur of the moment visit.  

He says he drove the 450 miles to see me, but I know the truth - it was actually to see Django ;-)   Anyways it put all my plans of spending the weekend studying out of the window, but after the emergency washing up on Friday I did manage to get some reading done before he arrived.

We had a lovely homey weekend of dog-walking, veg patch digging, visiting parents and just chilling together.   It certainly got rid of the gloomy mood I'd fallen into - it was going to be 8 weeks between seeing each other and that was just proving too long. 

Four weeks is definitely the optimal gap.  Two weeks is too often because there is no settling down time.  More than 4 or 5 is too long and missing them desperately sets in.   Just the day and a half he was here this time was enough to top up the batteries.

After he'd gone I went to the garden centre to investigate vegetables as it's time to be planting seeds.  So now I have some sown outside, and some indoors. My kitchen table has been moved around to create an indoor greenhouse space.   The four 'sticks' are not vegetables, they are wiggly willow cuttings.

We do have a greenhouse, a very small one 6x4 - but it's full of stuff and in dire need of a sort out. A job for another fine weekend!

This evening I phoned my brother-in-law and his wife (what does that make her, a sister-in-law-in-law?) to tell them that I'm not going to The Family Wedding in two weeks time.  Oh, he says, haven't you heard the date has changed now?   What a shambles, first it's rushed through because of visas expiring and now it's been put off because of some other legal hiccup.  For heaven's sake - well whenever it is, I can't come.

Anyway I ended up having a long chat which was good, I'm looking forward to being able to drive 2 1/2 hours comfortably so I can go and visit them, and my sister too. 

On the Scottish front, I don't think I told you that after Mr H's interview he decided that the new job would be too big a step this soon, and that he didn't feel remotely ready. So he was pretty relieved when he didn't get it, and so was I because I'd been kind of thinking the same thing. Not that ambition to get on isn't good, but it isn't everything.  So all that has settled down and he can throw himself into his current job and get more experience until the right opportunity comes up.  

My boss asked me the other day whether I was thinking of moving to Scotland one day.  He's another Scotland lover but he said he knew exactly what I meant, and felt exactly the same, when I said 'Not at the moment, we both like it down here too much'.   

If anyone asked me, right now, that favourite interview question "Where do you see yourself in five years time?"  I really don't think I could give a definitive answer. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

Best text I've had for a month..

Yikerama!!!   Mr H is coming home for the weekend, unexpectedly!!!

Hurrah hurrah... ok, washing up required!


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

What next..?

I apologise in advance if this post upsets you, but I feel the need to talk about it. I also apologise if you get confused with people - there are only four: Me, and 3 colleagues I have called A, B & C.

I work in a very small office, there are just 8 people (6 women and 2 men) and 3 of us have been there 18 years or more. We are a pretty close-knit team, which of course comes with gripes and personality conflicts, but when the chips are down it's a different matter.  

The last few months has almost felt like there's a curse on the place.  In the early summer, A's father died, her real father who she hadn't seen for ages; but she and her sister had to do the running around sorting out paperwork while dealing with all those conflicting emotions, and an **hole uncle for good measure.

Meanwhile B's father became ill and was diagnosed with cancer, and went through various surgeries. The rest of her family live overseas so it was really just her going through it all with him. 

Then there was my crash in June, which shook people up but they pulled together brilliantly and just got on with things.  In the Autumn, A's step-father, the one she considered her proper father, was diagnosed with cancer. 

In February, B's father deteriorated, and he died two weeks ago. Her brother and sister were here for a couple of weeks and then went home, so she being single was left on her own with just her dog for company. 

Also in February C's mother, who is in her late-80s, was brought down from London to a care home because she was getting increasingly confused, she then fell over and broke part of her elbow and decisions had to be made about care and operations etc.

Two days ago, A's step-father was rushed into hospital, she and her sister were called to say they should get over there, and he died in the night. 

This morning B's dog was rushed to the vet's for emergency surgery for an unknown problem that had made him sick all night, and he died during surgery.

This week the rest of us are sitting there thinking "What next.....?"  Especially these last 3 weeks we have all felt quite depressed. 

I'm not the kind of person to ask 'Why?'   I know that this stuff just happens, it's part of life and people cope and get through it.  But for such a small group of people, it seems such a high proportion of bad stuff has been happening. I can only say that the fact that we are a close team is definitely a means of support in these times of stress.

Monday, 7 March 2011

What the doc said

So I had x-rays today, it was 3 months since the last ones and they looked disappointingly similar.   Although I suppose the new bone looks a bit denser and smoother, there are still some gaps.  But it's all going to plan and I don't need more x-rays until September.  On the downside, the pain and aches are likely to be sticking around a few months or years (?!) more as the traumatised muscles and tissues 'settle down'.

I requested a referral for physiotherapy, which I can get at my local hospital in my home town.  I have a card that says I require 'quads strengthening' so will make an appointment for that as soon as I can.    I also mentioned to the doc that I have a bicycle, at which his eyes lit up and said 'that will be perfect'.

This evening I got said bicycle out of the garage and into the workshop (step 1).  I pumped up the tyres and inspected the chain (step 2). I went to throw my leg over it - well when I say 'throw' it was more like gingerly manoevering (step 3) - ouch!!    Hmm that hip flexion needs working on.  Then I got off again (step 4), locked it away and went in for a cup of tea (step 5).

Definite progress *brushes off hands in satisfaction*

KEEP CLEAR - Rant Ahead!

It's not really rocket science is it?  But WHY do people ignore this written on the road??

On Saturday I almost missed my train because a woman had parked across the KEEP CLEAR entrance to the station car park while waiting for the level crossing. And yes I called her a 'dozy ****' etc. while I sat there waiting. I probably would have had time to get out of my car, go over and offer to pull forward those extra 3 feet that would have allowed me to squeeze through, since she was apparently incapable of interpreting my pointing.

Today there were road works traffic lights which caused a tailback onto the roundabout near my house. So naturally people stopped ON the roundabout and left a 'car plus 1/2 inch' space to get through, for those of us wishing to go straight across.

And when people stop across KEEP CLEAR marking, or obvious (to me at least) areas of road which are required for movement of vehicles, and there is space for them to move out of the way, they just glaze over or studiously ignore the person gesticulating to them to "Please, with all due respect, would you MOVE!".   Gah!!!

I was thinking we should have KEEP CLEAR written on the road in front of our house, to stop people blocking the drive. But on second thoughts I won't because people would probably park there even more.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Blogging dilemma and quantum mechanics

I have a dilemma, and I'm not sure why this hasn't occurred to me before. 

I am writing stuff in a letter to Mr H., and some of it I would probably also write about on here, but then by the time he gets my letter he'll already know about it, and you know how boring repeats are (unless they are particularly funny or have hot people in them). 

So now I'm wondering what the hell to talk to you about, that I wouldn't put in a letter?

Well, I could talk about the question of how much our adult personality and behaviour has been changed and influenced by our peers.    As I hinted at the other day, without those special people we spend time with, would we still be the people we are?  how can we know without a 'control' version of ourselves who didn't meet those people, with which to compare?

I think that the time I have spent with Mr H. has had a massive effect on my self-confidence, my personality and my behaviour. But I only have my 19 year old self to compare with.   Maybe if I'd married someone else and was a bullied mother of 7 children who got into trouble if dinner's not on the table at 6.30pm, I'd be a mouse.  Or maybe not.   I know it's an ugh-word, but the subject of 'empowering' keeps coming up in my life at the moment, and that's how I feel about the influence of Mr H and my other adult peers who I choose to spend time with.

I was thinking about the film Sliding Doors and it's a strange feeling that there may be however many more of me in parallel universes, living parallel lives... would I want one of their lives?  Honestly, I don't think so (and I'm not just saying that because my man is reading!).

Talking of quantum mechanics, I keep coming across Max Planck recently.   First I discovered numerous Max Planck Institutes (I'm sure I've mentioned the Institute for Psycholinguistics before) and now his name keeps popping up in stuff I'm reading.  I don't read Hello magazine or Cosmo, which probably explains it. Not only did he have a cool real name, but he was a Nobel Prize winner in 1918, and one of his sons was executed for playing a part in the failed attempt to kill Hitler. 

So anyway, blogging - where was I.....?

Saturday, 5 March 2011

All in the name of science

Today I did a scientific experiment.

We all know how our grocery bill is affected when we shop hungry.  But I thought I'd try hungry AND thirsty AND exhausted.   Into the trolley went hot cross buns, ready-made quiche, ready-made chicken & mushroom pie, snack bars, salad off the deli, mini-Cheddar snacks, baking potatoes, lots of orange juice, individual cheesecakes, and a copy of New Scientist. And milk and bread which are what I went in for originally.

Hmm, that was a bit of a slip in my money-saving regime of home-made food, but sod it I think it's allowed once in a while?

The theatre trip thing didn't go off quite as planned, but I'll tell you about that another time.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Me and Him

Did we know when we married that we would become so compatible? 

Would we have become these people anyway or
Have we moulded each other?
How much have we both helped construct our similarity
Over the last 22 years?

Or was it fate?

It's now almost as if we have the same mind, but with different 'speciality subjects'.

Why do I ever doubt that he'll feel the same way as me about something.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


I am allergic to weddings. I just want you to know that.

If I could have been married without a wedding, I gladly would have done so.

I make exceptions for my favourite people, but beyond that please just don't invite me.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Emperor's New Clothes

I have all these thoughts bottled up inside me, but the only person I can tell about them is Mr H., because I know he will understand.

If I put them on here, or on Facebook or anywhere else public, I would be shot down in flames. And don't say that anyone can say anything on a blog because that is a fallacy - there is always someone who will get upset.  Now that is fine if one's blog is totally about speaking your mind and upsetting people, but mine isn't.

I blame it on my course, it's got me *thinking* about so many different things, and now I have opinions but I know that they aren't always popular ones.  And one isn't supposed to voice an unpopular opinion, because The People are supposed to all think the same thing, and anyone who doesn't and says so is labelled as uncaring or cruel or outrageous.    So we all just go along saying the same nice things and trying to ignore the fact that perhaps the Emperor is naked.