Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Thought for the day

"The day will come when man will have to fight noise as inexorably as cholera and the plague."

- Robert Koch (1843-1910), bacteriologist, recipient of a Nobel Prize in 1905 for his discovery of the cause of tuberculosis, anthrax and cholera.

 

Thursday, May 9, 2019


 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019


 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Less Blue but much happier

It's been a brilliant week.

I must get more Witchy Powers in the week of our 25th anniversary (I shall return to that subject soon - and thank you for the good wishes).

Today, late-afternoon, the BW Party took control of our District Council :)

Well, the closest thing that there will ever be to the BW Party.

A non-Party Political group of local people who understand and care about local issues, with brains and aspiration. More Bins than Brexit round here - the opposite to what the media have been saying all day has happened across the country.

'Keep National politics out of Local politics' and 'People not Parties' have always been my mottos.

The way decisions have been going at District levels in recent times has really upset me. Anti-environmental, pro-over-development, pro-airport expansion, anti-local interests, and, most importantly, anti-the-work of many excellent (unpaid) Local councillors.

A couple of months ago, Mr BW was chased around the non-phone and non-internet connectivity of SA by them wanting him to stand for them on the back of the work he does (as an independent) more Locally, but, amongst other reasons, the thought of then having to work in a minority against the Smug Arrogant Blue Moneyed Gits, knowing that common sense and representing local interests would always lose out to whipped votes along National Party lines, was just too much for him.

As it turned out, the SABMG's have (against all the odds) gone from having overall control to now having just 4 seats left (of whom 3 didn't have residents standing against them, 1 is new, 1 was previously an independent, and 1 was one of only two to defy the whipped votes previously), with the Chair and Leader both having lost their seats, along with our two local Useless Blues (hurrah!). I'm amazed that it has missed the national news, but, it is so amazing that it was unsurprisingly overlooked as a place to send reporters.

So, I am delighted to admit to being wrong in my previous assertion that, round here, you could stick a blue rosette on a pig and it would get elected.

I'm sure it will be a different story come the next General Election - the Blue Rosetted Pigs will remain - but, for now, it's People Power all the way.

 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Today...

... we attained our first flower badge for longevity.

I'm still deciding whether the spelling mistake came into the choice. Regardless, I am delighted to finally have a rose of our own, given how many I have bought for other people over the years.

We also attained 14 cards - only two from people present at the first party (and none from those present at the first ceremony, which is unsurprising given that it was half way round the world), 3 beautifully hand-made ones, a twin pair and a quadruplet pair. What are the chances?

Yesterday afternoon we spent a lovely 3 hours rewatching our wedding/honeymoon video footage, and today we are heading up to a glassy cathedral, having yummy dinner and snoozes in a watery mill, before going to either a Fen or the coast tomorrow, depending on what the weather looks like in the morning.

We're taking some money and plenty of h0ney.... oh wait, no, that's not right, we're taking a cool box filled with ice and champagne (because £80 restaurant champagne is not Value, and I prefer drinking champagne in my nightie to sitting at a table with unknown onlookers). The silver ice machine, which started off as our anniversary present to each other (and a way of using up some of our over-supply of solar power, rather than donating it to the grid), ended up being a gift from the supplying company who sent out a second hand one then messed up the replacement. And I didn't even have to ask!

Only the current wind is reminiscent of the weather on the day, which was hot and sunny. And 3,600 miles away on an islanded Commonwealth country.

Plenty there for you to work on if you like cryptic challenges.

 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Thought for the day

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

- Edmund Burke

Posted at 10:21 AM | Comments (1)
 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Politically motivated Art

I have 16 posts sitting in drafts that I have started in the past few weeks and then not had the enthusiasm to finish and post.

Part of it was that I was still really unwell, but the rest is that the decline in democracy, locally, district-ly and nationally, and the breakdown in morals and ethics in our society, and avoidance of some hard truths by those placed to take the hard decisions, is depressing me into inaction.

In such circumstances, I haven't had the urge to be creative. That is not good for me.

Most of the local centres that used to run reasonably priced arty/crafty courses have closed or put up their prices to unaffordable levels.

A few days ago I noticed a free, daily, online, 13 session, course on 'sketchbooks'.

It started today, and runs until May 4th (with catch-up access until May 18th), and, for those of you who may be creatively inclined, but currently in the doldrums, or who would like to start being creative but don't know where to begin (or are scared and would value a simple introduction), it might be worth a look.

A list of the sessions is here.

It's a bit American, and everything is a bit 'super-this' and 'super-that', and you need to skip the last minute of each video as it's a commercial, but the rest is OK - a nice concise reminder of the sorts of exercises I have done many times before, but which are just the thing to re-inspire and re-energise. I've even got Mr BW to participate!

Starting places...

 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Thought for the day

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."

- Douglas Adams

Posted at 10:01 AM | Comments (1)
 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

7 weeks on...

Little Ben (faithful old tiny battery-operated alarm clock by the bed) told me it is 8.30am. Netbook clock tells me it is 08:47 (how/why do computer clocks go slow?). Radio 4 starts its 9am programme.

Is it any wonder I have no idea what time it is, let alone which day of the week?

It's 4 weeks today since we left South Africa after 4 weeks, 4025km and 4141 photos.

We had reliable internet and phone access on just 5 days, and variations on reliable/unreliable and internet/phone on the 23 other days. For most people that would be a disaster, but for us it didn't matter at all.

We went to places where most tourists wouldn't either go, or want to go. It was fantastic.

It was the year of the zebras, the three very old flat irons with interchangeable handles (weighing 6kg) that just had to come home with us for my collection, rain where there hadn't been rain for several years (much to the delight of the locals), and the stand-in taxi driver (arranged by our normal man who was ill) who had flu and kindly shared it with me.

And so it was that all the good of 4 weeks of hot sun (with warm rain short interludes) was undone with one nasty virus that has totally wiped me out... most days in the last 4 weeks have had to be spent in bed, and when I have managed to get up and dressed, I have often ended up being unable to do anything for the rest of the day, and if we have gone out for an hour (for example, to get plug plants from a local nursery) I have had a total relapse.

Hopefully things will get better soon.

Oh, and that might apply to that other Elephant in the Room too... all I can say is, told you so.

 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

20 missing degrees

Ah, the joy of a whole week without internet.

"We've only had 80mm of rain since you were last here this time last year," said our ostrich/seed/sheep farmer host.

"We'll see what we can do about that, we are English after all!" I joked.

And lo it came to pass that they had more than that in 2 days, over the weekend, despite none being forecast.

It was warm rain though (but 20°C less than it usually is here at this time of year), and it was fascinating to see how the mountains and the clouds altered the scenery in what is usully a sun-parched arid landscape. And they are beyond happy to see the rain, so we are happy for them.

Off to Eastern Cape today (further east). I'm not sure of the internet availability there.

And apparently Mr BW is scheming to meet up with some of Mi1dred's SA cousins. Oh joy.

We haven't seen any news for a whole week. Updates please.

 

Monday, January 28, 2019

It's true

The 'Entitleds' in SA have a way of personalising their multi-million rand transportations.

It's to buy a personal plate in Western Province (the only area that allows such frippery) and put it on their vehicle in another region (usually Western Cape, because it's really the only region where there are many 'Entitleds' - similar to our Bright Young Banker Things, inhabiting capital and major cities, not Russell Group Educated, unable to cook (or indeed do anything else even vaguely domestic) and not giving a Flying F**** about anyone but themelsves).

Luckily they are easily identified by the 'WP' suffix on their registration plates. The 'P' stands for 'Plate'. The 'W' stands for... well, you know, you hopefully get the drift, and if you dont, you'd probably fit in well with them.

There is a very thin line between 'swanky' and 'wanky' round here. Very, very thin, more than an 's' thin, and the more we visit here, the thinner it gets.

We also saw "1JAMES WP". Or rather, we encountered him, cutting in front of us, causing us to brake, in an area of road works.

It's been 33°C here today. We went to Kirstenbosch, and there was not a breath of a breeze, so we hastened from shade patch to shade patch. The gardens were beautiful, as ever, and the factor 50 seems to have earnt its keep.

At home it appears to have been sunny and 4°C. Tonight is set to be -4°C. Snow is forecast for tomorrow. Despite this, our solar panels made over 5kWh today.

Tomorrow is a travelling day. Off to our usual ostrich/seed farm in the Karoo. 6 hours driving distance away from Cape Town. We usually stop somewhere for a couple of days on the way, but we've now seen most of the places on the way as much as we want, and as we are going much further this year (to areas we've not been before), we're pushing it. So, early night for me.

 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

SA2019 - Early Days

No matter how many times I fly into Cape Town, there is still that *eeeeeee!* feeling on first sight of Table Mountain (flat mountainy bit in the background) and Signal Hill (peaky bit to the RHS) from the plane.

It was 0°C all the way from home round the M25 to Heathrow on Wednesday afternoon, but had dropped to -4°C by 6.15pm, so we had to wait for the de-icing machine to spray our wings and tail before we could take off. That made the 22°C when we landed at 9am the next morning much more welcome.

It's breezy (as ever just down the coast from Cape Town) but mid- to high- 20s by day, and 17°C by night. Great to acclimatise before heading up into the drier regions where it is likely to be in the 40s. Hopefully.

The nice hire company gave us an almost brand-new car - only 309km on the clock - probably as we have booked a (comparatively) long rental, so we'd better be careful. No going down unmade rocky roads, or any of the dangerous off-road detours we're (in)famous for. Well, at least not for the first few days.

No Elly Plates (a pictorial registration from the Eastern Cape region, down towards Port Elizabeth) this time, just a Cape Town registration, so we'll be obviously tourists as soon as we leave the Cape, which is a bit of a pain. The car is the current 'trendy' colour here, a sort of nasty metallic 'mushroom'. Amidst a sea of white and silver, it's visible in a car park, which is a good thing. I've had to take a picture of it in case we misplace it as my memory card seems to have run out of space for random car registrations, only needed in the short term. Must be an age thing.

On which subject, I'm still delighting in the owner of our favourite vinyard in Franschhoek telling me that she was feeling tired and visibly slowing down. "I know how you feel!" I empathised. "But you're not as old as me, yet, I think," she replied. It turned out that she was 4 years younger than me.

Perhaps on the back of this, she let us buy from the 2018 rosé vintage (beautifully young and fresh), which they hadn't yet labelled (or, indeed, actually released), and her daughter (about to go off to university) wrote on the bottles for us. And then also signed a bottle of her own first make (of which we acquired a delicious one last year), which had now sold out, to everyone except friends. OK, so we spun her a tale (albeit true) about wanting to impress our (albeit retired) wine-importer friend and having a silver wedding coming up, but.

And today, at a craft market, another person who has become a friend, an English lady, a couple of years younger than me (who has lived out here since 1991), a potter, making and selling brightly painted pottery (of which we have a growing collection) confided that she was having botox to control her wrinkles.

I taught her 8 year old (adopted as an unwanted/unaffordable baby from a township) daughter the easy 'finger' way to calculate the 9x table, and lent my purse-safety safety pin to her (also English) husband to dig a thorn out of the child's foot. I insisted on spraying it, the girl's foot, and dad's hands with anti-viral hand sanitiser, and marvelled that most people clearly don't worry about such things. They couldn't decide whether I was a nurse, or a teacher. I didn't enlighten them.

We went to our second favourite vineyard and were given 4 free bottles of rosé, for a reason we couldn't quite determine. Probably because an 'Entitled' was requiring an 8% discount off 60 bottles and the staff couldn't find a manager who would answer their phone to authorise it, it being a Sunday afternoon. We got much more than 10% equivalent, just by being us. Ah well.

You do have to wonder why some people go to vineyards for wine tastings. These two seemed to prefer their phones to the experience. I guess that is why more and more vineyards are now charging for tastings. We're only here for the free wi-fi.

Tonight we are having rubber band stew. Made with a whole kilogram of fresh tomatoes (cheaper than one can of tinned) and a whole bottle of red wine, all reduced down. Just £2 from a supermarket (the sort of South African red you get on the £5.99 offers in supermarkets at home, that in reality is made from premium vineyards' over-production of grapes, sold on to a co-op to get some sort of monetary return, but where the production is hastened and not overseen by a 'named' winemaker).

We are 25 this year, and so is the end of Apartheid. To us, on our seventh visit, things are beginning to visibly change now, and the townships (shanty towns, with side-by-side corrugated tin shacks, no running water, and toilets shared between many familes) are being replaced by cement-block built houses with indoor facilities. But this has only begun to happen in the past couple of years, and only outside of cities. We've noticed that the township in this area (across the road and above the pictured beach - photo taken from moving car) still continues to grow. And 7% of the population still own 70% of the land.

There is an election in a few months, and people had to register to vote this weekend. Interesting times here.

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wondering...

Is this enough clothes for a month?

Now on our 7th trip (how did that happen?!) and we think we've finally cracked the numbers. Few places have washing machines, and I don't do hand washing. We'll see.

Also wondering, is it better to take lightweight cloth bags (for shopping) with us, or to buy plastic bags there (they started charging for bags years before we did, but it's not stopped thoughtless usage as it has over here), or to take (re-used) plastic bags with us, knowing that they won't eventually be recycled?

Air miles v plastic pollution. Hmmm.

In other news, provided it is mostly sunny, we are now self-sufficient in solar-generated power during daylight hours, and often for several hours after dusk, given the 6.5kWh battery storage.

We're going to play a game of 'guess the weather at home' (-4°C expected here tonight, and nothing above 0°C at night, 5°C by day, for the next week) and see how frugal the house sitter is being with electricity, by regularly looking at the solar inverter generation website. My favourite website. It takes so little to please me.

 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Super Blood Wolf Moon

12.45am - beautifully clear, cold and frosty, bright white full moon, casting clear shadows.

3.15am - still clear, going cloudy, moonlight still white, but less bright.

4.45am - cloud cover. Moon not visible. Bugger. Grey not red.

5.45am - even cloudier. Moon not visible. Light still grey.

Non-event of the year here. Roll on 2029...

 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

If it's the third week in January...

...then it must be marmalade time.

This year brightened up by a Seville with a punk harstyle:


I'm getting rather frustrated with Twinlock A4 plastic file pockets. They are the only ones that are disintegrating like this:

All the 'cheap' ones (Woolworth's *sobs*, pound shop etc etc) are all fine, it's just these ones. It's only the white plastic strip inside the spine, but it is very annoying and is going everywhere. Some of them are maybe 20 years old, but they have all been in ring binders, on shelves or in filing cabinets, at normal room temperatures, so there is absolutely no reason for it. Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon?


Yesterday while buying 18lbs of oranges in the local market, I went into the nearby library to sort out something I couldn't do myself online, and to collect and instantly return a book I had ordered but read from elsewhere in the time it had taken to come in.

The librarian stared at her screen, looked surprised, picked up a slip of paper, an elastic band and a marker pen, ready to address the book to the next place it had to go, and said, "Is Mrs D. Witch a relative of yours, Mrs B. Witch?" "No, I said, I don't know her - is she a friend of yours?" "No, but it's very strange - she's next on the reservation list for this book, and in this library too! Perhaps it's an omen, perhaps you should buy a lottery ticket?" "I understand statistics, so maybe I'll put the money saved in a savings account instead and see whether I'm ahead in 20 years time!" I joked.

Maybe she was right though... when I opened up the posting screen just now, it was 17:17 on 17th.

It's all rather too spooky.

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Origin unknown

I woke up this moring thinking, "Yikes on bikes!"

Not because of last night's vote (exactly as predicted) but because it was later than I needed it to be.

I hadn't used, heard, or read this expression for several decades. No idea why it popped into my head.

The internet doesn't seem to know its origin - although, as ever, it's now being used in a different way than we used it as kids, and by different sub-groups.

Mr BW suspects it may have an Enid Blyton style origin, and it was certainly around in the 60s and 70s.

Any ideas?

 

Monday, January 14, 2019

P

Awake in the night I got to thinking about how many of the world's problems begin with 'P'.

- Population
- Pollution
- Pesticides
- Plastics
- Pounds and pence
- Populism
- Politicians

There were a whole lot more at 3am, but I can't recall them now.

Edited the next morning - after some more pain-fuelled sleeplessness - to add:

- Power (provision)
- Power (people)
- Presidents
- Pornography
- Prejudice
- Planes
- Polling
- Plagiarism
- Processing
- Profiteering
- Planning
- Predictions
- Priorities

In other news, it's clear from the answers to The Friday Question that there is no longer any agreed 'etiquette' in this country.

I once had a book on the subject, and I'd quote from it now, if only someone hadn't borrowed and failed to return it.

But, I seem to be in the minority: I was brought up never to take the last piece of anything provided for me on a plate without being specifically invited to, and never taking anything home, again without specifically (and genuinely) being invited to. On the other hand, I always had to finish everything I'd put on my plate, under threat of it being served again for the next meal until I did eat it.

Plus, when I was on the Local Nice Ladies' Committee, we used to have an extra unwritten 'column' on the sheet we had to submit to County every month reporting back about the speaker we'd had (in order to maintain 'standards', we were told). It was called, "Speaker's manners relating to refreshments." It made us laugh, at the time, and provided light relief while we were trying to come up with yet another polite way of saying, 'Bloody boring, needs to be put out to pasture,' or, 'No idea what he was on about, and neither had he.' I can't remember now whether or not I was the one who first came up with the idea of that 'column'. I don't think I was, as I was not one of the ones who'd had nannies or been brought up in various parts of the Empire with a full set of servants, but, who knows?

 

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Friday Question

As a Witchy hat tip to the past, in celebration of BW's 16th blogday (which was a week ago, but it's becoming more and more obvious that I no longer know which day is which), and as we enter our 17th year, I am resurrecting 'The Friday Question'. As I no longer have 400 visitors on a Friday, I can no longer expect 50 answers, but, please do your best.

Suppose you were a speaker at a Nice Ladies' meeting, and, after your talk, you were presented with a cup of tea and a plate like this:

Actually, the plate originally had two fairy cakes, the other was in a pink case with rather more butter icing.

Assuming that you are not diabetic and don't have allergies or dislikes to anything on the plate,

(a) What would you do?

and, if the answer differs,

(b) What would be the 'polite' thing to do?

Posted at 10:07 AM | Comments (10)
 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

9.1.19

Nothing to say, except that it's one of those dates I love; the only thing that is less of a mess in the world is now The Studio, where I have spent every day since 20th December bar 2 (last Wednesday and Thursday) sorting, tidying, filing, reorganising and rethinking. It's a completely different place now, and I'm hoping that its new, better organised, more open, and much less cluttered, ambience will lead to a resurgence in creativity. Hoping.

I managed 13 days without leaving The Coven; Mr BW managed 20.

There seems to be a world shortage of ibuprofen. Well, a shortage in shops local to here. This is a pain. Apparently 90% of the world's supply comes from 6 manufacturers, and there have been problems with the main manufacturing plant in the US. That's always the danger of such set-ups, of course. Too large to fail?

If we do leave the EU, there is going to be a slump in non-perishable food sales (and so large supermarkets' profits) in the months immediately afterwards. These will naturally be attributed to problems caused by the interruption to the supply chain, but will, in reality, due to the stupid amount of panic buying/stockpiling that is currently going on.

As might be deduced from my comment above about the number of days we managed without going out over the FOTCR™, we do keep high stocks of everything (a habit that dates back to the early 80s when I lived 24 miles from the nearest supermarket), so I'm not contributing.

 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Day 4


 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Day 3

It's all go in space.

New Horizons found a space snowman (MU69), and the Chinese landed on the dark side of the Moon, ready to colonise, out of sight.

Meanwhile, on Earth, my little old-fashioned and much-loved netbook seems to be running on a much slower time than human time. I may adopt its convention.

 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Day 2

Why are people 20 years older than me getting drones as presents, and Alexa spy-in-the-corner gadgets ("It's great, they'll turn your lights on and off whenever you ask, and play any music you want!")?

Is there any evidence that fireworks are getting noisier? Or is it an age thing?

I'd love to ban drones and fireworks for personal use. Give it a few years and the 'authorities' will also be thinking this.

Oh, and, so many (well, 3) Patchy Ladies' tales of newly-vegan offspring suddenly finding they liked pigs in blankets for FOTCR™ Lunch. It's good to have principles.

 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Day 1

Mi1dred was naughty.

Mr BW put on her antlers, and was about to add her fairy lights, ready for the New Year's Day run with her friends and their Guardians, then she refused to start.

She seemed to have lost her spark.

Meanwhile, in Reorganisation News, every recent day, including FOTCR™ Day, has been devoted to reorganisation of The Studio. 12 years of less-than-perfect organisation and gradual accumulation of others' donated cast-offs, and my own unfinished projects, and planned-for-the-future projects, is definitely taking time to re-think and re-jig. And lots of bottles of wine.

Replacing plastic storage with wooden storage, cursing degradable plastic bags and disintegrating rubber bands, is definitely trying.

Mr BW has spent the day fiddling with Mi1dred's innards and I have spent the day refinding and rehoming drawer innards.

But, we're getting there...

 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Year ending

NORAD say Santa delivered 7,281,439,471 gifts. That's not quite one per person on the planet, and amusing given that only one third of the world's population is Christian.

It's also almost half as much again (in dollars) as Donald Duck plans to spend building his divisive wall.

And one fifth of the amount the UK has to pay the EU for the pleasure of leaving its ever closening alliance.

Has anyone seen any credible detailed figures to justify any of these numbers?

In fact, has anyone seen any credible figures to explain where all the money in the UK is currently going?

No, nor have I.

The FTSE 100 is worth 12% less now than it was a year ago. The worst performance since 2008. Blame China, blame the US, just don't blame our collective politicians' inability to run a bath let alone a country.

And yet many people continue to clamour to come here, by any means possible. Why?

In a year that has seen an awful lot of coverage of the centenary of the end of the First World War, it seems very strange that many people are surprised by the attitude of the other 27 members of the EU to the UK wanting to break away from the ever-tightening single-entity Europe (after all, the wriitng has been on the wall for years - Eurovision), and by the use of small boats to cross the 22 miles of brine between us and France.

My money is on the UK not leaving the EU on March 29th. If it were France, there would be riots at this point, but, it being the UK, the news will likely be met with total indifference and acceptance.

My hope is that the UK's foreign aid budget (0.7% of gross national income (GNI)) will be used to pay for the cost of policing the Channel, and dealing with the influx of economic migrants, but, it won't be. Some interesting figures on this subject here. As a nation, with current huge social care, elderly care, health care, and homelessness/housing problems, we are far too generous to those beyond our shores. Would any of the countries we currently 'aid' help us in the same way, were the roles reversed? Hmmm.

In addition to lots of attention to marking the UK's successful bid to retain its own identity in 1918, 2018 has also been the year of the transgender, vegan, minimalist, pop-up, lived live on social media via small screens lifestyle. No, I don't buy/buy into any of that, and my life is the richer for it.

I'm saddened, but unsurprised, that comparatively little attention has been given to the centenary of the securing of the right to vote for (some) women. At the end of the year I suspect that probably only 1 person in 10 (or perhaps even 100) knows the difference between a suffragette and a suffragist, and fewer than that number know why it is important.

And nowhere have I seen the centenary of Fox's Glacier Mints mentioned, let alone celebrated.

So, it just remains for me to wish you a Happy New Year.

Currently, it does seem likely that 2019 will only be 'Happy' for those able to see beyond the large to the small. In the words of TS Eliot, "Go in peace. And work out your salvation with diligence."

 

Monday, December 24, 2018

25 years ago...

... this wreath was created by Mr BW's grandmother.

26 years ago yesterday we were created. Well, OK, not quite... 26 years ago yesterday we met for the first time.

Today I have been washing my drawers.

All 33 of them.

They're not dry, so you can't see them quite yet.

They're part of my FOTCR™ present and my birthday present.

For the first time ever, I didn't mind having a combined present.

Actually, finding it when I did was quite a good excuse to call it 'presents' because only days before our paths crossed, I'd told Mr BW that there was nothing I wanted let alone needed, and that I had finally outgrown even being bothered by the mindless over-consumerism that most people engage in at this time of year.

It is undoubtedly the most expensive present I have ever had, as we've never 'done' big presents.

I have waited 12 years to find it though.

And, had I found it at any other time of year, I'd have just bought it anyway.

It involved a cross-country trip to Staffordshire two Sundays ago, in a huge van (because the small one we'd booked online at the last minute turned out to have an 'engine management fault' light on so couldn't be taken on a 340 mile round trip) and a 'pushing an elephant up the stairs' episode yesterday.

Not the first time for this sort of episode, as long-term readers may recall... a 50s settee, a metal plan chest and a baker's table have all gone up the ladder and through the balcony before, but we were younger then, and I fear there may not be many more such escapades in us. Not to mention room in the Studio.

If anyone knows anything about this, do tell:

So, that's our FOTCR™ sorted: polish the drawer fronts, cut lining paper to fit the drawers, wax the top, reattach the mirrors and glass shelves, and, then see if I can get all my crafty textiley items currently in nasty plastic drawer towers into the nice clean oak drawers.

Whatever you are doing over the next few days, enjoy your festivities, and thanks for reading, and interacting, this year.


 

Friday, December 21, 2018

So, about these drones...

Are they:

(a) An official distraction from 'Brexit'?

(b) An environmental protest?

(c) A BW spell, slightly distanced from the actual target? (let's call it a dry run, eh?)

(d) The result of the LGW ATCs' FOTCR™ Party?

Happy Yule.
Full Moon tomorrow.
The days now get longer again.
This may or may not be a good thing in the present climate.
It's all panning out exactly as I predicted.


 

Saturday, December 15, 2018




 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

I like post boxes.

The current FOTCR™ stamps are causing me problems.

 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)?

Oh Pete, why have you forsaken us at just 63?

That's another bit of my punk youth years gone; but, "But after all life's only death's recompense," and, "Things in life are not played for keeps, If it makes you happy it'll make you weep."

RIP and thank you for the music, and the brilliant lyrics, Pete.

 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

It's the small things...

... 6.12.18.

Posted at 11:09 AM | Comments (2)
 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Mantra for the future

The Solar Panel Project of late October meant emptying a lot of the limited eaves storage spaces - all we have left of 'loft space' following the 2006 conversion of the old huge loft into The Studio.

A lot more piles of boxes have joined the clutter in The Inner Coven. I am slowly (very slowly) ((very, very slowly)) going through them, piece by piece, shredding, sorting, discarding and refiling.

Amongst the clutter I have rediscovered lots of memories (good and bad) and lots of realisation that I have spent a lot of time, over the years, on things, and people, that have not brought me pleasure in the long term. I have definitely given much more than I have received, in many situations and relationships.

One of my overarching beliefs is that life is a pot, and you should put into it what you can, when you can, selflessly, in the hope that there might be a bit there for you, from somewhere, to take back out when you need it. Time and time again I have been disappointed, and have realised that most people, in most situations, just don't play by those rules.

I've tried to be less giving, but it is hard; if there is someone in need, or a cause needing a bit of direct action, I will always offer if I have the skills to do so.

But I've finally realised the futility in my approach. It's not making me happy.

So, in future I am going to apply one test to something: if I knew for sure that I only had one year to live, would I carry on doing that thing?

If not, then why I am doing it when I don't know that I do even have one year left?

I think that I shall be letting go of more things, groups, people, in the next few weeks and months.

 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Countdown to the FOTCR™

I continue to despair at the ever worsening levels of customer service (dis-service), and the ever-increasing levels of non-acceptance of responsibility, and avoidance of apologising (at all and every cost) if one dares to complain.

Even the Tooth Fairy, who refills recycled advent calendars in her spare time, no longer supplies and fills.

This year I got a text message instructing me to get the required chocolates and await her visit yesterday, or Mr BW would not be served.

She arrived, over an hour late, with no apology, and stood over me with a stop-watch while I opened packets and filled the empty pockets.

"Rather slow!" she chastised, before disappearing in a flash of tinsel.

You just couldn't make this stuff up.

 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Worrying

I was at the opticians earlier this week, and overheard a conversation between an 82 year old man and a young male assistant.

I worked out that he was 82 as he was asked his date of birth. I also know the first line of his address and his phone number. I'm sure that, in this day and age, there are data protection issues in such matters being discussed in such an open environment. But, that was not what concerned me.

YMA: So Mr L[rest of name redacted], do you not even wear glasses for driving?

82YO: No, no point, don't get on with glasses.

YMA: You do realise that you cannot meet the minimum vision standard for driving without glasses? I'll need you to sign this form to say that you have been advised of this, and have declined. It's just for our records, we don't do anything with it.

82YO: It's my choice. [signed form].

Now, if a doctor advises you not to drive, and believes you still are, and are a potential danger to others, they have a duty to notify DVLA, so why don't opticians, in these circumstances?


 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Samhain

I have a full complement this year (although my desiccated spider has vanished from where I left it, I still have a frog, a mouse and a late season Amazonka, growing on the balcony), and I made 8kWh of power today (although I think it hasn't been wired in correctly as there are some odd things happening according to our portal).

So, watch out if you have annoyed me recently (although, please be reassured that no-one reading here need be worried).

The words 'customer disservice in supermarkets' spring to mind... I've thought up a new slogan... "X supermarket, where customers are always wrong." And 'Evil Relatives' (not ours) with pound signs for eyes. What is the matter with people these days?

 

Monday, October 29, 2018

The light at the end of the tunnel was an oncoming train

We were given our first FOTCR™ card on Saturday. "We're away from the middle of December, and we need to get ahead of ourselves," we were told. FFS. I think I might put 2019s in the envelope with 2018s to them.

As we expected (but they clearly didn't), the installers didn't get finished on Friday. We know this house, after nearly 24 years here, and it is very very quirky. And very very well built, extended, and extended again. The five sets of panels are all up (yes, it's very multi-directional), but there is a lot of tidying and cleaning needing doing, and there are still all the electrical connections to do. And, they don't know it yet, but they have messed up the electrics on another system that they will be putting right.

Given that they come from nearly 350 miles away, we thought they'd stay on and finish it off on Saturday. But, oh no, one of them had to get home to play rugby on Saturday (yes, really!!!), so they're coming back today. Apparently, although they are now already 10 minutes later than even their worst-case arrival time... and the scaffolders are coming this afternoon to dismantle, and, now being back on GMT, it will be dark soon.

To be honest, I am more than a little bit fed up. Although they've only been here 2 days, getting everything ready, and scaffolding last Tuesday means that we've endured 10 days of chaos already.

Had they finished on Friday, as they were supposed to, we'd have had everything back where it went by now, and Mr BW could have had a restful birthday today. And there is a lot of stuff to go back in the cupboards, wardrobes, and dormer voids, even after I have decluttered 2 large wheelie bin's worth already. How is it that my professional association says I have to keep closed files until those they concern reach 35, but information in medical files can be shredded willy nilly?

 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Full Hunter's Moon setting at 7am this morning:

It was the coldest night of the autumn so far - down to about 5°C. And Orion (my favourite constellation) was beautiful at 4am.

I love it when a plan comes together. Some people plant at full moon, we install at full moon.

Coincidentally, today DG's busy writing about catastrophes that might beset the country, and we're busy future proofing ourselves against all eventualities (high impact / medium likelihood, and high impact / high risk).

7.5kWh of panels and 6.5kWh of battery. Together with a way of running the whole lot at normal power when the Ruskies turn off the power switch. Just how much would people pay us to charge their phones/cars/drones/dialysis machines/etc etc, I wonder? *rubs hands in gleeful anticipation*

Now I shall be able to play with the glass kiln to my little Witchy heart's content, for free, and perhaps get a pottery kiln too.

We seriously looked at putting in a system in 2006, when we had the extension done (how can that be over 12 years ago?), but, we felt, the technology then wasn't up to our needs, and the cost was crazy, so we ended up with solar thermal (for water heating) that Mr BW sourced and installed with a bit of help from the plumber we had onsite anyway.

Now, the technology to output energy to price ratios on PV are somewhere between 8 and 10 times better. And we will still get a little bit of feed-in payment for 20 years (but that is disappearing at the end of March 2019).

Given that our electricity has already gone up 17.6% this year (despite changing to the cheapest supplier twice), we're predicted a 9%+ ROI per year. Better than the pathetic (less than inflation) 2% the banks are offering currently. But, it's really more about feeling better about living more lightly, and keeping the lights on and the freezer (full of garden produce) working when the world falls apart.

I have never seen so many large boxes arrive here in one day before. The delivery lorry that dropped off the box of 25 panels put it right in the middle of the drive, so the installers can't leave tonight until they've fitted them. And I shall have to put safety lights on the three huge boxes currently filling the hall, because otherwise I will fall into them if I get up in the night. That's tomorrow's fun. And maybe Saturday's too, the way things are going.

So, once again I have men on my roof, and Mi1dred has been scared by the noises up above her bonnet (as it's a multi-directional array). Good job there is plenty of chunky new cardboard to absorb her oily drips.

If the archives weren't dead (except from within) I could put up some comparison pictures. But, this is definitely much louder than the last time. Think pneumatic drill loud. I can hear the roof screaming.

And as for the scaffolding... 12 years ago it was a few poles and a couple of planks, with a ladder propped against it; this time it is fully safety railed, with swing access gates at one end and fully attached ladder systems.

Back to the coffee making duties...

 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Do you love me enough to give me your last cat treat?


The excitement here is ongoing.

Air ambulances landing just behind the house, ambulances, nonagenarain neighbour's falls and distant vulture relatives who think 'he should be in a home' rather than living alone as he wants, as he has for the last 40 years, in the house he's inhabited in since 1935;
maternal 80th birthdays; scaffolding put up by a Jamaican b33keeper (and two others who immediately put up their hoodie hoods the minute they saw we had CCTV); lots of metally and sunshiney projects; finishing harvesting, and putting the garden to bed for the year; all peppered by increasingly large herds of deer (from four 5 or 6 years ago, to between 20 and 30 now), glorious blue skies and golden autumnal sunshine, albeit getting much colder, especially at nights, now. Often 20°C differences in temperature between 5pm and 11pm.

I am constantly grateful for the fact that Mr BW can do most things. I cannot imagine the frustration that people who rely on tradesmen and workmen to solve their ongoing 'household needs' must experience.

Our lives are currently beset by other people not doing what they're meant to, when they are meant to, or not doing it properly first time.

Both being 'do-ers', and both being used to being in control/charge, and getting things done properly, happily, and with the minimum necessary effort from everyone, it's hard to constantly be having to chase people good-naturedly, while simultaneously smiling/writing polite emails when we really want to tell them to bloody well get on with it and stop ----ing about.

For a non-biscuit and non-coffee household, we are certainly getting through biscuits and coffee this week.

And two shops in Local Small Town already have full FOTCR™ displays up.

I am not amused.

Posted at 11:09 AM | Comments (2)
 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Autumn 2018


It's 25.2°C at 3.30pm.

Mr BW is at pains to point out that it is raining and stormy north of a line from Devon to Northumberland.

Anyone got any advice about solar PV?

Given that our electricity (cheapest tarrif around) has gone up by 17.4% already this year, that leccy cars cometh (30kWh per 100 miles), that the FIT scheme ends early next year, that we have no gas here, that our oil boiler is 18 years old, and that prices of installations have dropped like a stone in recent months, it seems like a good time to finally take the plunge.

 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Useless fact of the day

I am amazed to discover that we have 70 light bulbs in various fixed lights around The Coven.

Of these, all but 6 are low energy (well, strictly speaking, all but 18, but all but 6 will be changed as they die).

It was 26.2°C on the external weather station thermometer (hidden in the shade under the eaves) at 5pm tonight. Someone told me today that she'd heard on the radio that it is now officially an Indian summer. Whatever that means. In fact, I'm amazed that one can still say that without being deemed politically incorrect.

 

Monday, October 8, 2018

8 10 18

Today's date is pleasing.

I am heartened that, over the course of my life, I have caused many people to also perceive such dates as pleasing, and to be constantly looking out for them.

I have discovered why The Universe provided me with a BW Blue wax crayon (*nods down*).

Sadly it has run out before I have been able to scribble waxily over lots of local crap.

In other news, I woke up on Sunday morning to a wooden tortoise staring me in the face. I am currently unnaturally fascinated by the geometry of tortoises.

 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Sign of the times?

I found a BW Blue wax crayon (thin, unused, non-branded) down by the wheel of my car when we parked in a car park on Monday (full moon).

Most intriguing.

What is the significance of that I wonder?

 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Thought for our times

"Twitter, it seems, can radicalise anyone. That is deleterious on an individual level, but profoundly corrupting of the collective political process. The website is a vast polarising machine—a centrifuge that separates politics into the most extreme iterations of any given position. When the ideal conception of politics might be rival teams, advancing competing policy prescriptions based on some common set of facts, Twitter turns us into quasi-religious cults, looking at the world in terms of righteous believers and despicable blasphemers."

- Rafael Behr - how Twitter poisoned politics


The best explanation of the under-estimated and poorly understood effects of the Twitter phenomenon that I have read to date: "The strange story of how the decline and fall of political life has been fuelled by a website that started off as a platform for sharing gossip and cat photos,"

 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Ten years on...

...and I'm unconvinced that things are that different in the capitalist world.

I was expecting, and hoping for, some really insightful commentary to what continues to plague the developed world, ten years on.

Sadly, I haven't seen much. In fact, from offers we've had from the 'financial world' of late, I fear that history is repeating itself.

Are the issues being debated elsewhere that I am missing, or do people really not care any more?