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.

Friday, 6 August 2010

There are Moments when I feel VERY OLD!!

It has been an interesting week for a whole host of reasons. There have been emotional ups and downs, highs and lows, irritations and laughter.

Having tried out the Boris Bikes at the weekend, I ended up using them every day except Monday. The reason for trying a bike on Tuesday was because one of the girls at work had invited some of us to join her for a drink after work in celebration of her 'nothing in particular' birthday. The prospect of lugging my Brompton to the bar was not one that I relished, so Boris Bike came to the rescue; and it was so easy.

Much of the laughter of the week was provided by the barman. He was a very jolly Irish chap and came over to take our drinks order as we sat down, unfortunately he was so desperate to please that in his rush back to the bar he ran straight into a low cupboard, he assured us he was fine, but we all felt it. All was then fine for some time, until a few more of our colleagues joined the party and ordered some soft drinks and another bottle of wine, these were duly brought to the table on a tray. As he was about to serve the drinks down, the tray started to wobble, the contents of the tray wobbled more, he tried to stop the wobble, the more he tried to stop the wobble the worse it got until . . . . . everything, the full glasses, the empty glasses, the bottle of wine all hit the floor. Nothing survived, it was all gone, the poor chap, we couldn't help ourselves, we just had to laugh!!

So that clearly covers the laughter and an emotional up for me, if not for the barman, so what about the lows and the emotional down? We have had a lady in to cover for maternity leave, so has only been with us for a short while, but she has been an inspiration to us and has brought so much knowledge with her. I have learnt heaps from her and really hope that her next role is a success for her, she will be sorely missed.

And now for some irritation/a bit of a rant. You have been warned, you may not want to read any further. Why don't children know how to behave well in public and why, if they clearly don't, do their parents inflict them upon us during the rush hour when things are stressful enough as it is? On two afternoons this week a parent has boarded the the train I have been taking home, with more than one child in tow, all old enough to be able to understand basic instructions, such as 'NO' and 'STOP KICKING THAT LADY', but clearly thought it was amusing to ignore the instruction. I am not talking really young here, I am talking 9 or 10. On one occasion the subsequently chastised child then screamed, and I mean high pitched, glass shattering, fingernails down a blackboard, piercing screams. I know I am an old fogey that has no children, so clearly has no idea what I am talking about, but is this meant to be normal, acceptable behaviour? Had it only occurred on one evening I would have put it down to an over tired child with an over tired parent, but twice!?

But I have to end on a positive note. The Boris Bikes are great, I had a bit of a blip getting one out of the docking station on Thursday, but all in all a really great experience and a huge enhancement to London's public transport system, I just hope that it is well maintained so that it continues to be so.