Tuesday, 20 September 2011


I knew the start of the term would be tough. The kids are having to get used to early mornings again. The big kids are overloaded with homework, piano, violin, climbing, sports club, science club, scouts and getting the bus and a thousand new things to get their heads around. They had a weekend away with the scouts doing a Cycle Camp too. They came back shattered and covered in mud. They had a great time! The little ones have swimming at school, piano, cello, sports club, choir... I bounce from one thing to another, hoping I haven't forgotten anything.

So, bearing that in mind, the three weekends in a row that I ended u
p being mostly absent, was not all that helpful. You already know about the Malvern and bowling trip. You know about the Snowdonia trip. This weekend it was the turn of the Mensa AGM in Coventry.

I had offered to help out and so I ended up on the reception desk most of the weekend. I do prefer to be part of the help committee, mostly because otherwise I'm a wallflower, who shies away into the corner and gets bored. Helping out gives me something to do while I'm getting to know people. As it happened, there were lots of people I knew, so it turned into quite a social time. I got to do a bit of networking too, which was great.

I went to a very interesting lecture on self-publishing, which is a route I may well go down, now I understand it. I went to a lecture on bees, which was nice. My dad used to keep bees, so it was all familiar stuff. I knew enough not to get lost in the technicalities. In the quiet moments, I went for a walk around Coventry and took a look at the cathedral, which got bombed to pieces during the WW2 blitz. The replacement is a bit of a 1950s monstrosity, but maybe it is indicative of the era's zeitgeist.

I ended up talking to a strange Mensan (let's face it, most of us are quite strange), who told me about his friend Eleanor. Eleanor is starting up a Pagan Radio - world wide internet broadcast. (Sorry folks, I really am coming out of the closet these days). Anyhow http://www.paganradio.co.uk/ is launching in February 2012 and I'm interested in getting involved, time permitting. We'll have to see, what with everything else. It sounds like a fun project if it gets off the ground.

Work wise, I have some bike stuff coming up, though not a lot. I have a few kids I'm tutoring, though again, not a lot. I have had to replace my printer, and my mouse because.. erm, they stopped working. The printer was under guarantee, so I just swapped it for a better one and paid the difference. I bet the mouse was too, though I didn't think about it when I bought a new one. It feels better to have all the techno stuff working properly.

Blah blah. Minutiae.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Photos from our bike trip.

It's taken me a while to get things sorted - it took ages to get the blog of France sorted, and then my mouse needed replacing and blah, blah, blah. So here, at long last are the photos of our bike trip out with Sunna and Olof, our Swedish guests.
1. Bikes and helmets.
2. Ice cream break.
3. Ceiling in Great Witley church.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Swedes in the Garden

No, I haven't suddenly dug up my overgrown lawn and started growing vegetables. I wish I had time to tend a garden. Maybe I should be careful what I wish for. I have had a pair of Swedes camping in my garden. They arrived on Wednesday by bike and left again yesterday. They were really nice, easy-going people and we enjoyed having them to stay.

On Thursday I got all the kids out on their bikes, with the Swedes, and we cycled nine miles altogether. We visited Great Witley Church, with its restored painted ceiling and beautiful gold trim. We had ice-creams and a drink at the tea rooms. It was lovely.

Naturally, the kids started to flag on the way back, so Nick came and rescued them in the car. My bike got a flat tyre too, so rescue was just in time for me too.

Yesterday, I had the day to myself, more or less. Donny and Mel went off to their friend's house. They spent the day tickling for trout or something. Naturally, Mel came back soaked, having fallen in the River Teme.

Saskia and Eartha, on the other hand, went off with one of their friends to record a charity Christmas CD. Whilst Saskia has perfect pitch and is very musical, Eartha is the performer, so this was right up their street. They had a fabulous time and came home very tired.

Donny is troubled by warts. I had them too, when I was a child, and they are very common. They hang around for a while, then disappear as mysteriously as they came. The over-the-counter remedies won't work because the offending growths are too close together, so the doctor suggested gaffer tape. I know, don't ask. I think it is supposed to suffocate the damn things. Meanwhile, my poor daughter is wandering round with silver sticky-tape on her fingers, feeling a right nana.

My computer mouse is not working. The spring has gone so I can't click anything. I have had to requisition Mel's laptop. I shall have to get a new one. It really is a pain in the neck.

While my kids were out enjoying themselves with friends, I have been reading the Twilight series, by Stephanie Meyer. I know, you all probably read them years ago. I was certainly recommended them years ago, and somehow never got around to reading them. It is a hugely popular series, particularly in the teen-fiction section.

So, what do I think? Erm, they are quite addictive, lite reading. I want to read more and find out what happens to the characters. This is good. On the other hand, I don't get the attraction of the main character - Edward Cullen - you've probably heard of him. He is moody, icy cold and has an unyielding stony body. Sorry, ladies, this does nothing for me. I could go for the werewolf though... he's hot.

As far as the literary style goes - it is very simplistic stuff. The entire story appears to be told through the reactions in his liquid gold eyes and her fluttering heart. Not much else happens. The plot is made up of micro-plots based on emotion and tiny scenes. When I saw the film before reading the book, I thought the books were so popular because Edward was protective towards Bella (the heroine). And what woman doesn't want a man that protects her? This doesn't stand out in the books though. There's a lot of teenage angst going on.

I will read the rest of them, but I'm actually kind of disappointed. I keep comparing the plot to something like Steig Larsson's "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" and it just doesn't hold a candle. Mind you, maybe a simplistic plot is enough for most teen minds. Teens live in such a sea of emotion. My 11 year olds have got to that overly touchy stage. We have conversations like:

"Have you seen my phone?" is answered at top volume with
"Stop picking on me! I haven't had it!"


"Can you put your shoes on?" is answered with
"I'm doing it already!" followed by slamming doors and stamping feet.

Sigh. Only another decade or so of yelling to go.