Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Tax Return, tick!

So yet again I have waited until almost the last minute to do my Tax Return, but it is done and only took me 3 hours this year. I keep meaning to write myself a guide to how to do my Tax Return, every year I forget where some if the allowances go and where you should claim each item, but every year I am just so pleased to have got it done that I just move on to the next thing on the list of things that I actually want to do. I really must think about doing my Return earlier next year, maybe in April or May!

But it is done and now I shall get on with enjoying my Christmas holiday and recovering from Flu, much better use of my time I think.

Friday, 24 December 2010

And so this is Christmas! Well Eve anyway.

Santa has arrived with us today, a little early, but he says he needs to get a head start as there is so much to do these days, and the snow has really not helped with the transport of toys and other gifts. Apparently any delays caused to air, rail and road travel are nothing to a stroppy reindeer that has cold feet! After all, we all know what happened to Rudolph's nose, and I am told that toes are just as susceptible to the cold and wind.

Monday, 20 December 2010

So how long will it last?

The snow fell in a couple of hours on Saturday morning, a good 6 inches in two hours - quite a thing to see.

I took this photo last night and it looks the same tonight, the temperature did not get above freezing all day so I start to wonder how long we will keep the snow for. I do not remember anything like this before. And the forecast, currently more is expected.

So how long will it last?

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Organisation or Chaos?

The final weekend before next week's exam and I am preparing my final notes to take in with me. But is this a scene of organisation or complete and utter chaos. Next week will tell. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Sometimes The Usual is Amazing

Yesterday, as I was walking back from a meeting I decided to cross the river using the Golden Jubilee Bridges. I was staggered by the view that greeted me. This is a view that is not new to me, and yet it stopped me in my tracks. I think it was as simple as my being extremely busy in every part if my life at the moment and there I was with nothing to do but take in what was around me. Just amazing.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Yum! Simple but effective.

I made this at the weekend and it is really yummy. I have to thank Nigella Lawson for the recipe, you can find it on the BBC website, it's called 'No Fuss Tart'. Trust me, it is very simple to make, keeps well and is worth every moment of the very small amount of time it takes to prepare.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Studying in the Autumn

You would think that studying in the Autumn would be easier and have fewer distractions than studying in the Summer. But when the view from your chosen location includes such wonderful colours, and the promise of piles of leaves to kick your feet through, it is not as easy as one might think.

All one can do is focus on the fact that in two weeks time it will all be over (results permitting!) and then you will be free to kick your heels up and enjoy what Mother Nature brings.

Monday, 25 October 2010

True Stories

I have just signed up for another on-line class with Shimelle Laine. Details can be found here
True Stories. This time  it is about writing/journalling, something I am not very good at when it comes to 'personal' writing for scrapbook projects. Give me a report to write, or indeed a blog, and I can write my little heart out. Give me a pen and a blank piece of paper and that is a different story. That involves using my not very good handwriting. I mean I appreciate that many people hate their own handwriting, but mine is really not great. I am too hesitant, so it looks like I am, well, too hesitant.

Anyway, this class involves many blank sheets of paper, and no guilt about making mistakes, indeed crossing out is positively encouraged!! So here I go, why don't you join me?

Friday, 22 October 2010

Sunrise over the City

Those of you who know me will understand that I do not particularly enjoy the whole 'getting up at 5.30 in the morning' thing. It is bad enough in the summer, when it is at least light, but for the past couple of weeks it has felt like the middle of the night. It has been dark, and recently, extremely cold, with thick layers of frost on the windows of cars, adding to the frustration of the morning journey to work.

But there are benefits as well. The chance of not just getting 'a' seat on the train, but 'your' seat, are increased significantly. There is no queue at your favourite coffee shop, and the baristas have time to greet you and have a chat whilst making your coffee just how you like it.

And sometimes there are additional benefits, that only happen very occasionally. Today is one of those days. As I walked into the office and glanced out of the window on the way to my desk, this is what I saw:

This is why you should get up at 5.30 in the morning, because this is something you do not get to see otherwise. This makes it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Farewell to Priceless Paintings from W7

It is with sadness that I must announce the Termination of Priceless Paintings from W7

This blog was an inspiration to us all, particularly those of us who know the blogger well. But it is no more, it has ceased to be, it is an ex-blog.

Farewell Priceless Paintings, those of us who are relatively new to blogging will try to keep up the standard, but you will be a hard act to follow.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

We Don't Often Get Days Like This, Particularly at a Weekend

It is not often that we get such a wonderful day in October, and for it to fall on a weekend is an added bonus. Clear blue skies and 70 F is not at all what I expect on 10 October, and yet, here it is.

It is a little windy, but who can complain when this is what you can see all around.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Sometimes Only the Best Will Do

Even though I am trying to be good and not spend too much money on frivolous things, there are times when only the best is good enough; now is one of those times.

It has been a tough week, and a tough few months, so this morning I decided that the usual source of my morning coffee would not do.

Today I was going to treat myself to a really great coffee, courtesy of Taylor Street Baristas.

And what a treat it was. Rich and Smooth, just what the doctor ordered. My only hope now is that the rest of the day will be equally Rich and Smooth!!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Didn't We Have a Wonderful Time?

Not the day we went to Bangor, but the day Les Girls came over for a day of Scrapbooking!

This was a class I ran for 6 family and friends as an introduction to scrapbooking. It was also and introduction to me of actually running this type of class.

It took me a few weeks to get everything ready, bit at a time, and to make sure that everyone had the same things in their kit. I also had to get the set of instructions sorted out and let the ladies know what they needed to bring by way of photos.

The plan for the day was to start making a mini-book, or brag-book, and for the ladies to have the instructions and sufficient 'stash' to take away to be able to finish the project at home.

I think the ladies were amazed at how quickly time flys when you are playing with paper and glue, but they all seemed to really enjoy the day and I am already planning the next session.

And how was the day for me? I was really pleased that I had put the work in before the day, as everything went really smoothly, and it proved to me that I can run these types of event. I was so proud of what the ladies did, without exception, they all exceeded my expectations. But boy, was I tired at the end of the day!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Back to Work - Good, Bad or Ugly?

So, I was back at work today after a holiday of just over two weeks. To say that I was dreading what the first day back would be like would be to understate how I felt. My expectation was not great, particularly as I stupidly turned on my work Blackberry last night (by mistake in my own defence) to find that I had just over 350 emails in my inbox. Even allowing for the fact that some of those would be 'rubbish' and some from my colleagues replying to emails on my behalf and copying me in. Even so, they would all need to be read and filed both within my email system and physically. 

I got in to the office at 7.00 and started the process. By 9.00 the figure of outstanding emails was down to just over 150, it is amazing what you can do when there is peace and quite. By the time I left the office, admittedly over an hour late and having worked through my lunch hour, I had only 11 emails that had not been allocated to a specific case.

And the purpose of this blog post? To crow about how efficient I have been today? No, it is specifically to show that today I learnt that with purpose and determination (and quite a lot of luck) you really can do what you initially thought to be the impossible.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Busy Learning Something New Every Day

As you may have noticed in an earlier post, I have signed up to Shimelle Laine's 'Learn Something New Every Day' on-line course that is being run this September.

The idea of this course is that you record something that you have learnt each day. Generally you will record this the following day, as you are unlikely to know what you have learnt until the day is over.

So what have I learnt so far. Well, there are a few classics and a few that are very personal. On 1st September I saw a poster on the Underground that had a quote from Gandhi 'There is more to life than increasing it's speed'; what a wise man he was. Yesterday I learnt this lesson the hard way. I was rushing to get things done, specifically making the bed, with no shoes on, ran into the bedroom, swerved to avoid the cat which was, inevitably lying in the way, and straight into the bed leg with bare toes. Here I am this morning still suffering with stubbed toe syndrome. What a great start to a holiday!!

So what will I learn over the next 25 days?

Monday, 30 August 2010

A Story of One River

August Bank Holiday Weekends are notorious in the UK for really bad weather, so I was pleasantly surprised when Saturday dawned to blue skies and fluffy white clouds. I decided that a trip into Kingston would be a good idea before the weekend got too far underway. I planned to do some tidying and needed some basic boxes to pack some stuff away in, and some pretty ones to store some items for display.

And so it was, I spent most of the rest of Saturday, and some of Sunday, tidying. And it was quite successful, although I had less to store than I had expected. But a general tidy and the use of the new, pretty, storage boxes did the tick and things are much more organised, and I think I will even remember where things are.

The remainder of Sunday was spent getting ready for the new on-line class. It starts on 1st September, and for once I actually took heed of the suggestion to get everything ready in one place, thus allowing for the possibility of actually making a 6x6 page every day for a month, rather than spending most of the time trying to decide what to use and then trying to find it. Here's hoping the strategy works!

As the forecast for Monday was good, The Man suggested that we take the train to Windsor to do a short cycle trip, to use as a possible group trip either later this year or early next year; at 16 miles, it would be easy to achieve in an afternoon.


Although it was a little cool in the morning, the weather was wonderful, and by mid afternoon, it was reasonably warm. And so it was we cycled along the Jubilee 'River' (I will always think of it as the Windsor Flood Relief). We saw all kinds of wonderful views and bird life (the speck in the sky is a Redkite, honest) and had a really good afternoon. 

Some of us managed to complete the tour without the need for a stop. Some, however, did not! I think the picture says it all, but if you feel the need for more information, just ask.

And so, back to Windsor, and a view of the Castle I am not sure I have seen before, rather impressive, or is that imposing?

Finishing with some over indulgence at 'The Chocolate Theatre Factory Cafe', which, along with some amazing looking chocolate cakes and drinks, also serves a pretty good Cream Tea, just what is called for after a cycle ride.

Then back to the station, and home.

Friday, 27 August 2010

August Bank Holiday Weekend (mostly)

So in case you haven't remembered, this is the start of the August Bank Holiday Weekend, well for some of us in the UK, but not for all. If you live north of the Border, you had your August Bank Holiday on 2 August, so hands off, this one is for Sassenachs and Welshmen, and a few Irishmen over the Sea.

There is a modern legend that the traffic on the Friday before the August Bank Holiday starts building up from about Lunchtime. And sure enough, when I left work today, a little earlier than often, the traffic was indeed heavy. The reports on the radio confirmed that the M25 was already backed up from Junction 17 round to Junction 11, about 20 miles! So I avoided that and went on the M4 instead, but as is often the way, when the M25 Western section clogs up, the roads inside it clog up as well, so it was a very odd route that took me home.

Now remember I said that this is not a Bank Holiday north of the Border, so I was amused that the Radio 2 traffic report started with a statement that 'Bank Holiday traffic is already building up. The roads around Perth are already very busy and traffic on the M8 into Edinburgh is moving very slowly . . . '. Can someone tell me what that had to do with a Bank Holiday south of the Border? Had hoards of drivers headed over Hadrian's wall specifically to cause traffic problems in Scotland? 

Well after the journey I had, I for one will be avoiding main roads this weekend, it just isn't worth the stress. I think a nice quiet weekend tidying up my craft room and preparing for Shimelle Laine's 'Learn Something New Every Day' is called for.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I know that there has been some concern about a lack of rain, particularly in the South East, but did we really need the rainfall deficit all to fall in the space of a few minutes?

When I left home for work this morning it was a little damp, but not too bad. Still a bit damp when I got to Waterloo, and no change by the time I got to Bank as I started the walk up to Bishopsgate. Then, suddenly, with no warning the heavens opened and it poured. And I don't mean that the rain got a bit heavier, I mean it poured, it was like standing under a power shower. 

Happily a bus came along just in time to give me shelter and I completed my journey in this relevant comfort only to be disgorged at Liverpool Street Station and into the Bishopsgate River, for that is what it was this morning. The water was so deep that it topped my shoes.

I took refuge my favourite coffee shop, only to be greeted with the sight of one chap who was proudly accepting of the fact that he had left home without raincoat, jacket or umbrella, and had made the unfortunate choice of a white shirt. Needless to say, the shirt may as well have been invisible, for it was soaked through and clinging to his well sculpted torso. So the morning could have been worse I suppose!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Christmas is Coming. Geese start that diet now!!.

No I have not gone totally mad, well actually there are times when I think I have, but not because I think Christmas is coming, when we all know that we have a few more months to go.

But for me, Christmas is coming tomorrow. That is when I start my Christmas paper craft demonstrations. I have spent a some time over the past couple of weeks making samples ready for the demonstrations. Most of the samples use very basic techniques.


But I usually make a couple of more advanced samples, partly just to show off, but mainly so that others can see what is possible.

So tomorrow I will be buzzing round the M25 to my first Christmas demonstration. Having seen the weather for tomorrow, it looks like it will be almost winter as well, so it may even feel about right.

And what will our Christmas cards look like this year? I have absolutely no idea, watch this space.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Sow what do we have here?

This is a bit of a quiz really, have a look at this photo and guess what it is? It's a bit of a Rolf Harris question really - 'Do you know what it is yet?'

If you are thinking peppermint rock, think again. There's a clue in the title of this post, if that helps. So for those of you who thought I had forgotten how to spell, the answer is 'No', I have just dug up a rather bad sense of humour from somewhere. Here is another photo that may help you.

Any closer? 'Do you know what it is yet?' If you are thinking vegetable, then you are getting closer. These are photos of the stems of Swiss Chard, in this case a variety called 'Bright Lights', and this is not a reference to 'Gremlins', sorry my brain is doing very odd things today.

So what do the plants look like when still in the ground? Well you will have already seen this in an earlier post, but here it is again.

Did any of you get it right?

And if you are wondering what you use Swiss Chard for, other than just eating, the answer is that you can eat young leaves raw in salads, mature leaves can be cooked like spinach, but better, and the stems either be braised, or used in soup.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Bugs and Blooms

Although I am not feeling great today, thank you to The Man for sharing his bugs with me (gosh I must be feeling rough, that is going to end up as a truly bad pun!), I could not resist a quick visit to the garden with my faithful Fuji on Super Macro setting. Within a few feet of the backdoor I found the makings of some great shots (she says immodestly). I should add that most of the flowers, although not all, were grown my me from seed.

So what did I spot? Well here we are:

Hoverflies on Californian Poppies with Alyssum in background.

This time without the Hoverfly, but a slightly different colour of Californian Poppy.

Alyssum in the foreground and background this time; I love taking photos with a very short depth of field, I'm not sure what it is about them, I think it might be the ability they have to make you look at what the real subject of the photo and not the clutter around it.

This time a different colour and fewer petals, but still a Californian Poppy.

And this is definitely my favourite colourway, there are so many subtle hues, from bright fuchsia through soft salmon pinks to yellows and creams.

Change of bug and floral focus. This time a classic 7-spot Ladybird on some Alyssum .

And again!

And a Hoverfly on Alyssum .

Now some alpine flowers, I am afraid these were bought from the local garden centre.

But they are pretty none the less.

Especially this one, I love the veining on the petals. And the flower heads are each only about half an inch across.