Monday, October 31, 2011

This Week: 31st October 2011

The weather ... an autumnal mix of sun, cloud, wind and rain, but warmer than average for late October.

I am wearing ... black and white pyjamas

I am reading .... The Secret Life of Bletchley Park by Sinclair Mackay. The story of Bletchley Park, the codebreaking centre during World War II, fascinates me.

I am creating ... boot socks for my brother on the train, and a chunky multi-coloured cardigan for myself that I started nearly two years ago.

I am listening ... to silence! Tevye has already left for work. Nobody else is awake yet.

I am watching ... Downton Abbey. Only one more episode of this series.

am enjoying ... work! I really like my job. The subject matter is fascinating and the atmosphere relaxed.

I am planning ... no particular plans on my mind at the moment.

Learning notes ... Angel has been slogging away at product design work over her half term break. Product design is definitely the course with the highest work load of the four she is taking.

Cherub ... has spent a lot of time over the past few days playing with a neighbour girl who moved in recently. E is just eight, but she and Cherub enjoy the same type of activities - imaginative play, particularly with small figures like Playmobil and Sylvanian Families, and lots of drawing and colouring.

On the menu ...
Monday: Baked potatoes and chilli with broccoli
Tuesday: Fish cakes or scampi with chips and peas
Wednesday: Beefburgers with mushrooms and roasted veggies
Thursday: Chicken in BBQ sauce with rice and green veg
Friday: Salmon?
Saturday: Leek and potato soup
Sunday: Roast chicken

On the calendar ... absolutely nothing beyond the normal routine this week. Can it be true?

A picture from last week ... I took Star to Covent Garden on Saturday afternoon on impulse - she was bored and I decided to take advantage of being near to London and being able to get discount rail tickets thanks to my annual season ticket. Covent Garden used to be the main fruit and vegetable market for London but was redeveloped after the market moved in the 1970s, and now has a mix of shops, stalls and street entertainment. We spent some time watching this Charlie Chaplinesque.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Photos from the South

I did a nice photo blog from our day in Chichester last week, which caused my phone to blow a 3G (mobile data) gasket when I tried to upload it. Should have waited until I was home with wi-fi. Now my Blogpress app refuses to show me any saved entries, so the post has disappeared without trace. Reproducing it would be too demoralising, so I am just going to post a batch of random pictures from our trip away.

Cherub enjoying the autumn leaves

Chichester Guildhall - originally a priory church, which became the town hall (Guildhall) after the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. Now a museum.

The world's largest liturgical book in Chichester cathedral. Nobody knows exactly where it came from or when it was made - 17th century Mexico / Latin America seems to be the most likely origin. The size was so that the book could be seen simultaneously by a number of people.

The ceiling of Chichester cathedral. I have a thing for Gothic ceilings.

The Isle of Wight has a small railway line that runs from the ferry landing at Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin in the south-east. The trains are cast offs from the London Underground.

Shanklin Old Village. Very pretty, even on a grey autumn day.

Shanklin beach - grey sea and grey sky!

Another Gothic roof, this time at Winchester Cathedral. Beautiful fan vaulting.

A medieval wooden carving on the end of one of the choir stalls at Winchester.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quick Thoughts

1. Too late for 7 Quick Takes this week, and I'm not sure I can come up with seven things to say, so this is just a random number of quick thoughts. I keep having ideas for things I want to write about here, but then I forget what they were. I have just got so out of the habit of blogging. There always seem to be so many other things to do when I am online at home. I thought maybe I could blog on the train, but that is my main reading time and I don't want to lose that. Meanwhile, this poor blog gets sadly neglected. Maybe 2012 will be my Year of the Blog!

2. Angel went for a job interview on Wednesday for temporary work over the Christmas period for one of the big department store chains (the one with the dark green and white logo that has a sister chain of supermarkets). She may or may not get the job - she won't hear until next week - but I am hugely proud of how capable and independent she is, and how confidently she tackled a group interview / assessment where most of the other applicants were much older than her.

3. A lovely moment from our trip away earlier this week.
Tevye [to Cherub]: Are you enjoying your holiday?
Cherub: Yes!
Tevye: What's been the best thing about it?
Cherub: Being with you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This Week: 24 October 2011

The weather ... all over the place - sun, wind and rain in quick succession.

I am wearing ... pyjamas and fluffy dressing gown.

I am reading .... A 1960s Childhood by Paul Feeney. I was in the mood for a bit of nostalgia, but I'm finding it rather disappointing.

I am creating ... the last inch of the Revival sweater - it is knitted in the round from the top down, and I decided it was a bit short so I am adding an extra few inches at the bottom. I finished Star's socks, and I'm not working on a pair of thick warm boot socks for my brother for Christmas.

I am listening ... to the TV.

I am watching ... a programme about young women becoming nuns (multitasking here). When that finishes I will catch up with Sunday's episode of Downton Abbey. I am waiting up for Star, who is due back from her school trip to France in the small hours.

I am enjoying have enjoyed ... three days away with Tevye and Cherub. It was strange to be a family of three for a while - it is such a long time since we last went away with just the two of us plus one little one. I think Cherub is going to be the most easy going of the three girls, and she was at her cutest and sweetest. She was ecstatic at having us all to herself for so long, though she also missed her sisters. We took advantage of a cheap Travelodge (motel) deal and stayed between Chichester and Portsmouth. The first day we explored Chichester, yesterday we took a day trip to the Isle of Wight, and today we visited an aquarium in Portsmouth and stopped off at Winchester on the way home.

I am planning ... Christmas knitting. I have various gift projects in mind.

Learning notes ... half term this week, so all three girls are off school. Tevye is taking the whole week off work, and I am only working Thursday and Friday mornings. It's nice for us all to have a bit of downtime.

Cherub ... is back in a drawing and colouring phase. As soon as she gets up in the morning she sits at her little table, pencil in hand, and the same when she gets in from school in the afternoon.

On the menu ... playing it by ear this week, as everyone is likely out and about unpredictably.

On the calendar ...
Wednesday - Angel has an interview for a shop assistant job over the Christmas period.
Friday - Tevye and I are going out for dinner with some friends.
Saturday - maybe a trip to the zoo with Little Friend N, but he hasn't been well this week so it may not come off.

A picture from last week ... the Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth

Monday, October 17, 2011

This Week: 17th October

Oh dear! Where did last week go? Bad blogger!

The weather ... still a warm and pleasant early autumn, but supposed to be getting cooler and more changeable this week

I am wearing ... black and white pyjamas.

I am reading .... finished Selling Sparrows, and back to a book about the 80s I have been ploughing through slowly over the past couple of months.

I am creating ... the Revival sweater is almost done, but proceedings have been interrupted for me to need an emergency pair of fluffy, snuggly socks for Star to take on her trip to France.

I am listening ... to Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams. We are playing this in my next orchestra concert - loved it before, but love it even more now I have the insight that playing and rehearsing a piece of music brings. I had no idea that it was written for two string orchestras - a small second orchestra plays alongside the main one.

I am watching ... last week I watched Downton Abbey, the X Factor, the Hotel Inspector and Who Do You Think You Are (last episode). I am not a big TV watcher, so for me that is quite a lot in one week!

I am enjoying ... Sanex shower and bath gels. Or rather, I am enjoying the fact that this stuff works so well on the dry itchy skin to which three members of this family are prone (not me!). It is cheap and cheerful, but seems to work just as well as far more expensive prescription grade shower gels and bath oils for dry skin and mild eczema. Cherub doesn't spend half the night scratching itchy skin any more.

I am planning ... how to fit an extra day into the week. An extra day's work that is. I am going to be doing some overtime to help out over the next three months or so while the archive is a staff member down.

Learning notes ... glowing reports on Cherub from her teacher last week - she has settled into Year 1 very smoothly, is responsible and helpful, eager to learn, and gets enthusiastically envolved in both teacher-led and independent learning activities. None of which surprised us as that is very much what we see at home, and she seems very happy with school so there was no reason to think there would be any issues. Angel spent a day here on Friday at a photography workshop, and has just come home with details of a product design study day at London University for next month. Star has been contemplating GCSE choices for next year and is thinking she will opt for triple science (separate physics, chemistry and biology GCSEs rather than a scaled down combined science version), art, business studies, French and child development. Plenty of time before she has to make a final decision though.

Cherub ... was Pupil of the Week for her class last week, which meant she had to collect a certificate, badge and trophy (which she gets to keep for the week) in front of the whole school during assembly. This was scary and she had to be brave, she tells me. She is also very proud of herself.

On the menu ...
Monday: chicken stir fry
Tuesday: chicken and broccoli crisp bakes, chips (fries) from the fish and chip van
Wednesday: minced beef with mashed butternut and sweet potato topping
Thursday: honey mustard chicken and pasta
Friday: salmon
Saturday: leek and potato soup
Sunday: [out]

On the calendar ...
Monday: modern dance exam for Star; Angel wants to try out the adult gymnastics class at the gym where she coaches
Tuesday: tap dance exam for Star; full day working for me
Thursday: Star leaves for six days of intensive French theme parks; Sixth form information evening for parents and students with Angel

A picture from last week ... a rare picture of me with Cherub from our meal out on Saturday

Monday, October 10, 2011

This Week: 10th October

The weather ... Indian summer over and into autumn, although this week the forecast is for warmer than usual temperatures again - nothing like the scorching heat of a couple of weeks ago though, and with a fair amount of cloud and wind.

I am wearing ... dark grey trousers, pink sweater, black boots, beige coat.

I am reading .... almost finished Selling Sprarrows.

I am creating ... the second sleeve of a Revival sweater - stocking stitch with an unusual top down construction - which had been hibernating for a couple of months. The skew socks are still on the go for knitting on the train, and I finished my Jordan vest yesterday. I liked the idea of a lace vest but wasn't at all sure about the construction (basically a tube with two rectangles sewn on to make the bodice and sleeves) or whether the finished product would be something I would wear. Finishing it was one of those ta-da moments when it all miraculously came together into something I really like, though I'll have to wait until next summer to wear it.

I am listening ... to nothing in particular over the last few days.

I am watching ... all caught up on Downton Abbey. I discovered recently that Maggie Smith (the dowager Duchess of Grantham and Professor McGonigall in the Harry Potter films, among many illustrious roles) is a former pupil of my old school. A bit before my time though!

I am enjoying ... fresh figs. They have been on offer at the supermarket recently. I hadn't eaten fresh figs on years and quite forgot I liked them until I bought some on impulse.

I am planning ... Christmas shopping. I like to shop well ahead so that I don't lose December to a last minute rush.

Learning notes ... Meeting Cherub's teachers tomorrow to hear how she is settling into Year 1. She is happy so I am not expecting any issues.

Cherub ... is definitely the most introverted of the three girls. From what she says she seems to like to spend quite a bit of her playtime at school on her own, just watching what is going on. She will join in with the others when she is in the mood, but likes her space.

On the menu ...
Monday: chicken pie, mashed potato, veg
Tuesday: steak or chicken, butternut squash wedges, green veg
Wednesday: burgers, sweet orn
Thursday: lazy chicken
Friday: fish, chips, peas
Saturday: leek and potato soup
Sunday: roast chicken

On the calendar ...
Tuesday: parent teacher meeting for Cherub, hairdresser for Star
Thursday: eye hospital appointment for Tevye
Friday: Angel on a field trip here for a photography workshop
Sunday: playing with the brass band in a nearby village

A picture from last week ... last week's weather - sunshine, rain and rainbows

Thursday, October 06, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs

I am writing this on my iPhone on the train, thanks to Apple. Smartphones existed before iPhone, but it was iPhone that made everyone (ok Tevye, almost everyone!) want one. Same with tablets - iPad turned tablet computers from a tiny niche market to a mainstream product. The iPod changed the way we listen to music forever. iMacs made computers a thing of beauty. Steve Jobs, quite literally, changed the world. Whether or not you own an Apple product, you almost certainly communicate and use computers differently because of the technology that Apple developed or popularised.

I am a huge fan of Apple. Partly because their product design is so immaculate; partly because everything "just works". Who would have thought a decade or so ago when Microsoft appeared to be taking over the computing world that Apple computers would ever become more than a niche product, if the company managed to survive at all? Reenter Steve Jobs for his second stint as head of Apple. And today Apple is ... what? ... the second largest company in the world? (I don't have time to check!). I also heard on the radio the other day that a survey reckoned it the second most iconic brand in the world. Quite some combination that!

So RIP Steve Jobs. Your legacy lives on.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Things That Make Me Smile

Finding a stuffed animal takeover on the stairs when I got home from work


Meeting a blogging friend for lunch at Ikea and turning into real life friends. Thank you Linds! And do read this post where she talks about the importance of friendship far more eloquently than I could.


The prospect of iCloud being available from next week, which (I think!) will mean that I can take photos like the one above on my iPhone and they will be effortlessly synced with my laptop and iPhone.


This thought which turned up on my Facebook feed yesterday.

Monday, October 03, 2011

This Week: 3rd October 2011

The weather ... The last day of a six day heatwave of glorious, hot Indian summer weather, including the highest October temperature ever recorded in England on Saturday. The weather may be all tipsy turvey, but it has made for a wonderful morale boosting bonus between the coldest summer in 18 years and the short, cold and (typically) wet days of late autumn and winter.

I am wearing ... summer clothes. Black linen trousers, monochrome butterfly print top, black cardigan (still a bit cool while waiting for the train at 7.40am) and black sandals.

I am reading ... still Selling Sparrows by Judy Wright

I am creating ... Jordan vest (almost finished) and the second of my third pair of Skew Socks. The Dangerous Socks for Boys are finished.

I am listening ... Billy Connolly's Welly Boot Song (see learning notes below - this started a train of association in my head).

I am watching ... after two busy weekends I am getting behind on Downton Abbey. Hoping to catch up this week.

I am enjoying ... the weather!

I am planning ... nothing new that I can think of.

Learning notes ... Cherub has "Welly Week" at school - they are going to be doing welly themed activities based on a poem about - you guessed it - wellies. (Wellies = Wellington boots = rubber rain boots.)

Cherub ... has gone into a drawing frenzy, mainly creating detailed pictures of birthday parties.

On the calendar ... Tuesday: lunch with Linds; a meeting at Star's school in the evening about her trip to France later this month; Thursday: orthodontist's appointment for Star; Saturday: band concert

On the menu ...
Monday: sesame beef stir fry
Tuesday: salmon fishcakes and salad
Wednesday: baked potatoes, upside down chicken kiev, and stir fried leeks
Thursday: shipwreck stew and corn on the cob
Friday: chicken pie, mashed potatoes and carrots
Saturday: fried fish
Sunday: roast beef

A picture from last week ... our next-door-but-one neighbours' new kitten - a four month old silver tabby