Monday, 29 August 2011

In my opinion....

In some unwittingly optimistic moment, I joined the 'DD208 Welfare, Crime and Society' facebook group.  In both previous years I have joined the relevant group and within weeks have needed high blood pressure tablets every time I looked at it. I don't know what it is about them that irritates me so much but they seem like a different species to me.

It is still 6 weeks before DD208 starts and already I'm thinking I might leave (the facebook group, not the course!)... the only reason I'm not is because  it's a group where someone else has to add you to it.  So I'll stay put just in case, and try to resist looking too often.

The reason I started this post is that just after the riots (in the UK) one of the girls in the group was trying to get me to give my opinion on the reason for the riots.  My reply was that sorry I'm not informed enough at the moment - ask me after I've done this year's course!  She said 'come on, you must have an opinion though?'.  Well actually no.   If the experts in the field have half a dozen different theories about it and can't agree on what the reason might be, how the hell am I supposed to know?  Yes yes I know, it's supposed to be a discussion - but I know what happens in discussions in those types of groups, they can degenerate into personal insults.

Sure I could postulate about 'dysfunctional families' and inequality and drugs and bankers and politics - but I would have no idea what I was talking about, it would just be repeating what I've heard. It would not be an informed opinion based on anything but media chat, so would be worthless.

I have mentioned recently that I have become more opinionated, but that does not extend to repeating what 'experts' on the Jeremy Vine programme have said.  To have an opinion, I need to fully understand something, and I won't be bullied into voicing some parroted opinion which I can't back up.

I would feel like Bridget Jones : "Ugh. He's just a big knobhead with no knob. Is some people's opinion of Kafka... but they couldn't be more wrong. This book is a searing vision... of the wounds our century has inflicted on--on traditional masculinity. It's positively Vonnegut-esque".

The final opinion of the two girls in the group who did discuss the riots was that really our country should be more like Somalia and the Middle East.   Yep. Right. Glad I got involved in that discussion then.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Weeding my mind

I am feeling depressed about the garden today, I've been working on one of our borders and have made a brick edge to stop the grass encroaching (one that I can mow right up to), and have weeded and planted some new plants. Ones that are out NOW because all the other flowers in our garden seems to have finished by the end of June.

Because of my leg it took me three sessions to get the bricks down, partly because the soil was hard digging.  So it's probably taken me a month to do what I would normally do in a weekend, because that's all I can do (and people still tell me I should be taking it easy).

I walked around some beautiful gardens this morning at Beaulieu and came home inspired, bought three plants at the nearby garden centre and they are perfect.  My plan is to plant so much stuff that there is no breathing space for weeds.  However, we don't have sweet little green weeds, we have brambles, and ivy, and bracken and really the shady part of the garden should be turned into a woodland glade because that's the kind of stuff that grows in it. Maybe after 21 years of trying to tame it we should throw in the towel and pave the whole of the SW corner (that's a joke by the way).

I need to turn these negative feelings into gratitude for having an amazing garden, that has so much potential as well as so much wild-ness.. How many people have that luxury these days?   We could be stuck in a flat with just a couple of window boxes...

But I also know my depression isn't totally about the garden. It's about me. It's about being knackered after one hours of gardening, when even taking the spade back to the shed is an effort. It's about tackling it alone, rather than the teamwork of me and Mr H.  It's about not knowing how long this is going to last, right now the light at the end of the tunnel is pretty dim.

I think it's time for a cup of tea.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

25 years, and living off the land

Mr H says he is missing reading my insights.. I guess he's right that I don't have so many when I'm not studying and thinking deeply about stuff.   Or maybe at the moment I don't feel as though I have anything interesting to say, other that getting aggravated by people!  My boss has been away at a regatta for two weeks so I've been 'in charge' and have had a couple of diplomatic incidents and some mysteries to unravel. Although the boss has been available on e-mail, I have made a point of dealing with things that would normally get passed straight on to him, so I'm feeling good about that. Now I just need to continue that when he is back!

This weekend is 25 years since my sister picked up a hitch-hiker, and I ended up marrying him. Next weekend when he is home, we will open my morello cherries in bourbon to celebrate - they have been marinading almost 3 months now.

I just went down to see some friends (where our bees live) and we were discussing the people who try and live on £1 for food per day.  We decided that unless you grew 90% of what you ate, it wouldn't be possible; but apparently one of the people who wrote a book about it included gate crashing parties to get free food - I'm not sure that is really in the spirit of the thing!  We were discussing how many of the weeds that grow under their cherry trees would be edible in some way. I'm sure you must be able to make dock leaf soup or thistle pie or something - I will have to try and find a suitable book for them for Christmas.

Talking of weeds, I have a bit of gardening I want to do this afternoon. I'm trying to take it easy because my leg has been quite painful the last 2 or 3 weeks, but it seems like such a waste of a weekend.  So maybe just a bit and then I'll stop for a cup of tea. I promise.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Sorry about the lack of posts, I've been suffering from a severe lack of inspiration.

Ever since I was a child I have been an avid reader. I nearly always had a book on the go and read late into the night under the covers. Occasionally my mother would say 'you'll ruin your eyes reading in that bad light!' but I'm 45 and have near perfect eyesight, so I guess she was wrong.  I'm actually quite disappointed as I think I'd look rather good in glasses.

So, one of the advantages of being in between OU courses is that I have plenty of time to read, and I am enjoying an interesting selection of books from the library at the moment.  I finished the biography of Myra Hindley of Moors Murders infamy, extremely well written and objective. I can't remember the author's name but it was titled 'One of your own', highly recommended.

Then I read a Daisy Dalrymple mystery which was beautifully innocent. Set in a Devonshire coastal village in the 1920s, Daisy is the wife of a Scotland Yard Detective Inspector who is supposed to be on holiday but of course gets wrapped up in the suspected murder of the local philanderer.  I loved the insight into 1920s manners and the tail end of the staid Victorian generation who frowned upon the young people and their improprieties.

I am now reading an interesting novel called 'I am NOT a Serial Killer'... hmm catchy title you say!  It is the (fictional) story of a 15 year old sociopath who is obsessed by serial killers; written from his point of view and quite disturbing.

I have two or three random crime novels lined up still to go. Given that there is no purchasing involved, I am enjoying picking authors that are totally unknown to me, just to see what they are like. I do have a quick glance in the book to see what the style of writing is like, but other than that I just go by the precis description of the story.  It is so easy to get locked into one author, or just the 'best selling' ones, and not try any of those on the perimeter.

It is probably obvious that I enjoy crime novels (they have a whole section to themselves in the library, so I am obviously not alone).  Although they can be predictable and formulaic on occasion, not half as much as love stories which tend to bore me unless they are exceptional. I cannot abide Chick Lit, it drives me into a frenzy!  Unfortunately I am not as willing to experiment with love stories, I'm sure there are some very well written ones out there.

I've always fancied that I could write a novel, or at least short stories, but I don't think I have the patience.  So I'll leave it to others, and just spend time enjoying the fruits of their labours!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Reminders come when least expected

Sometimes I get a reminder what being a manager is about. It's not just making sure the job gets done properly and on time, or wondering how to improve the training; it's also looking after the people you work with and being there for them to talk to when they need to.

It is giving them the benefit of the doubt, and treating them the way you expect to be treated yourself.

I never signed up to be a manager - it was originally a purely technical post until we needed more pairs of hands - but here I have ended up, so I have to do it the best I can.

I had a reminder today, which has made me realise I need to try harder...

Monday, 15 August 2011

Physiotherapy, on impulse!

I got home from work this evening on my bike, it had rained a little bit but the temperature in shorts and t-shirt was perfect for cycling so I decided to dump my bag off and go for a longer ride.  So I changed into more comfortable leggings and set off after a quick honey sandwich to bolster my blood sugar.  I find the best way to do my physiotherapy is on impulse, rather than planned, otherwise I make excuses why I can't go for a 3 mile walk, or do exercises etc.

I pushed myself quite hard, the road north from our house is one that is flat in a car, but actually slopes gradually upwards, so I had the downhill on the way home :-)   No doubt I will ache in the morning, but it felt good to get my legs and lungs pumping for just under 7 miles which took me half an hour.  It doesn't sound much, but quite enough for an evening after work.  It's funny to think that five months ago on 14th March I cycled the 1.5 miles to work for the first time since last June, and was totally exhausted!

It is only 3 weeks until my next X-rays, it's been six months since the last ones. I'm really looking forward to seeing them and how different they look. Also Mr H is home for that whole week, so that's something else to look forward to!

Friday, 12 August 2011


I'm feeling emotionally knackered... thank goodness it's Friday night.

I miss Mr H like mad, yet like the peace of solitude.  He loves Scotland yet misses home.  People's immediate suggestion that I move up there really isn't thought through (at all).  But we chose this way, together, and things will work out ok. Just some days it's tougher than others.

In the meantime, here for your delectation are a couple of photos from the Highland Games we went to on Saturday.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Travelling light

I'm off to Scotland tomorrow evening, just for a long weekend, accompanied by my best girlfriend.

I was thinking about what I needed to pack, and realised the answer is 'not a lot'!  Each time I go up there I seem to leave another item of clothing, so my bag gets smaller and smaller :-)

One thing I will definitely be packing is a book. I've just started reading The Life and Death of Myra Hindley, which seems to be written in a very balanced way - not biased in defence of, or against her.   It's an interesting insight into the lives of poorer families in inner Manchester in the 40s and 50s, before they got moved out of their close-knit community of houses into 'better' high-rise flats, which didn't prove to be better at all...

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Exam result day!!

I just got my 2nd year OU module and exam result and got a Grade 2 pass!!    I got an overall 81% in assignments, and 75% in the exam (a Grade 2 pass requires a mark of 70-85 in both components).

So I'm very, very happy this morning!!   It's given me a huge boost for next year, knowing that I didn't let myself down in the exam, and all the hard work revising paid off.

Hmm, maybe this calls for CAKE at work today! ;-)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Opinions and skins

Mr H commented at the weekend that I have become more opinionated since I started studying and also since the crash.  It's true that I do feel that I have more to say, and that sometimes those things need to be said. In my previous life I would either not have an opinion, or if I did it would never get voiced.  Whether that was because I wasn't sure of it, or because debate scared me (everyone else being so much more opinionated than me, including my husband!), I would just keep quiet.

I am beginning to think that a thick skin is required in order to voice an opinion, because as soon as you do, somebody might retaliate in defence, misinterpret your point, or in general come back with something other than a reasoned debate.  You never know when something you say, which you consider quite harmless, might touch a nerve for somebody else, and it comes as a shock when they turn on you with teeth bared or they get terribly upset for a reason that you could not possibly have been aware of.

The internet is particularly dangerous place for voicing opinions whether banal and sensitive, or risky and provocative.  On internet forums, blogs or discussion groups, the chances are that you have never met the people who are reading your comments; you don't know their history or their personal preferences, or even what mood they are in (and they don't know yours).  It's no wonder that sometimes a simple statement by someone can turn into a long slanging match, because of people jumping to defend something that probably wasn't under threat anyway.

I just read in an OU group that a tutor had suggested that you can say anything you like on a social networking site as long as you follow it with "LOL" - which is quite possibly true! 

So, I don't think my skin is thick enough for me to voice opinions on the internet, and I should stick to voicing them only in face to face discussions, where there is body language to help, and knowing the person I'm talking to reduces the likelihood of my inadvertently upsetting somebody.  Although I now have opinions, I also still have the little person inside who doesn't want people to be upset at me, or say I'm boring because I drive at the speed limit and don't think binge drinking is big or clever.

I'm not saying I will never voice an opinion in my blog, but on the forums that I occasionally visit I think I will be biting my tongue and watching from the ringside more of the time!