Thursday, 30 November 2006

being a grown up

Pretty LightsB is away again this evening. It's the last time for a while that he'll be staying out overnight - it's been one hell of an autumn, probably the busiest we have ever, ever had. Everyone we speak to in the same line of work seems to be saying the same thing.

Our challenge now is to keep the levels of work up - things are going to have to radically change as far as us working away from home goes, at least for a while, when (if) children are placed with us. So we have to continue building up our credibility as a company, continue to build up the credibility of our staff and generally move things on so that B is doing more design work, more marketing work, more of being an actual Managing Director, rather than going out there and doing 5AM calls and being away for a week at a time.

We have ditched the marketing company that we had such high hopes of. Marketing Guru turned out to be a Marketing Bird after all. Years ago, B had some very good results with a marketing company further north - we have tracked them down (they merged with another company in the interim ten years) and they have put a plan together for us and will start doing some work for us in the new year.

They are most definitely NOT Marketing Dollies.

I have spent the last couple of days playing with my cashflows and generally sorting out budgets. We are upgrading the laptops so that we can run the lighting design software 'WYSIWYG' on them properly. At the moment, B's machine will not render 3D designs at all, and Young Keith's is very slow. Think, like, a whole day to render a large design.

I have been looking at laptop machines with dual-core technology, which I currently know very little about. My choices seem to be between AMD Turion 64x2 or the Intel version. If anyone has any experience or could point me to a site with some benchmarking or reviews I would be really, really grateful.

I am going to have a large glass of elderberry wine now and read some nice, soothing science-fiction.

Oooooh! And my peas are coming up. Yay! It's a miracle, isn't it? You shove the seeds in the pots and they GROW. It's amazing.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006


In our office move, we appear to have lost the industrial-sized gigging teapot.


Tuesday, 28 November 2006

top then things I would never do

Rachel has (rather apologetically!) tagged me for a meme - the top ten things I would never do.

It was more difficult that I expect - how can you say definitely what you would NEVER do? But here they are, in the order they sprang to mind:

10. Wear lipstick
09. Have fertility treatment
08. Buy a television
07. Hurt a person or animal for fun
06. Have a false boob if I ever had to have a masectomy
05. Have a piercing ANYwhere else other than my ear
04. Let myself be abused by a partner again
03. Let my children be rude to people
02. Turn in to one of those parents who can talk about nothing but their kids
01. Stop thinking

And, I am supposed to nominate ten people - but instead, please nominate yourselves in the comments ... go on!

Friday, 24 November 2006

list of woe

Woe is me -

  • Simpkin has fought off an attack by The Cat With The Wide Head and has a badly bitten leg that probably needs to go to the vet.
  • We are almost out of chicken feed and I should go out and get some.
  • Someone is coming at 5pm to have a look at the standalone PC that I need to FDisk and reload before then.
  • I have five parcels to wrap and post for eBay and Amazon.
  • Ditto B's police checks - still in my bag.

All of this is virtually impossible to deal with because the last fortnight's crescendo migraine seems to be crescendo-ing in a visual impairment / right-side-paralysis kind of way, RIGHT NOW.

Excuse me, I am going to lie down and ride it out.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

snapshots from a family dinner table

Discussing a client's behaviour around the dinner table on Monday night:

Kate: She just wants it up her hairy vent.
Ally: PARDON! Could you repeat that? I thought you said 'She just wants it up her hairy vent'.
B and Vic: [collapse in explosive laughter]
Kate: I SAID, she just wants it to be her own event.
Ally: Ah, thank you for clarifying that. Would you like some more potatoes?
Kate: That would be marvellous. Thank you.
B and Vic: [simultaneously fall off chairs laughing]

Monday, 20 November 2006

mud wrestling for chickens

Picture, if you will, a relatively plump, wellington-boot clad blogger wearing her 'good' trousers because she is about to go to her adoption meeting but still about to fill up her chicken's feed and water and ensure their comfort before her overnight trip.

See her there - radiating enthusiasm, get-up-and-go and organisational abilities!

Look! In her hand is the list of tasks she has to accomplish this morning before her husband comes back from his jaunt to Welshpool to be fingerprinted for said adoption procedure and they can leave for the Bright Lights of The Wirral (tm).

See how organised she is!


Look at the garden.

See the VERY liquid mixture of mud and chicken shit that appears to be surrounding the greenhouse and both chicken houses due to the torrential rain the night before.

See the cockerel in the wrong house, that needs to be moved to the other house, where he won't get pecked to death while This Caring Blogger is away.

See the happy chickens, eating their lovingly prepared food and drinking their lovingly tended water!

See the escaping cockerel!

See! There he goes! Legging it up the garden like an extra from Jurassic Park, his enormous feet and incredibly powerful legs (that will fatten nicely for the table) powering him away!

See the blogger leap! See her lightening reactions, dropping her feed bucket, her watering can of water and her Organisational List and pelting in hot pursuit!

See the mud! See the slidiness!

Appreciate the comedy value of her legs running underneath her, showering mud and chicken shit everywhere, but not actually moving her forward!

Revel in the inevitable sliding of her feet from under her, the humour in her expression and her creative swearing as she realised what is happening.

See the mixture of mud and chicken shit on her new Next trousers (from eBay!) and her smart jumper and her list and her thermal vest!

I caught him though. And now I feel dreadful as he really needed to go in to Death Row with the other cockerels and he's really upset, because he's in love with one of the hens - hence they sneak away together each night to roost in the bantam house instead of with the main flock.

Got to go, washing up to do, mud to wipe off and overnight bag to pack.

Friday, 17 November 2006

beer, curry and adoption

Adoption meeting went well - we have another one on Monday, because of odd schedule-wiggling on the part of our worker. This is good. We are getting towards the end of the 'Form F' assessment process and are moving towards going to panel. Unlikely that it will happen in January, because of B's CRB checks - so maybe March.

Loads more work has come in.

We've got people coming for the weekend for a belated birthday celebration for B.

I am having a WHOLE WEEKEND with the computer switched off. Honest. Watch this space.

And if you visit regularly and I haven't got you on my blogroll, please email me and let me know and I will add you - I am planning a revamp over the next couple of months and have even, (SHOCK! HORROR!) been experimenting with Wordpress.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all. Until Monday. Or maybe Tuesday. I go now, to cook curry and bottle three gallons of beer.

Have a nice weekend.

behaviour managment, rayburns and thermal underwear

We've got an adoption meeting this morning - today we are covering 'Dealing with our feelings about abuse', 'Behaviour management', and 'Difference'.

Yesterday we spent all morning trying to sort out all the bits of B's International CRB checks that he has to apply for in person. This has involved writing to France, Germany, Canada and the USA, enclosing payment of about a tenner a time. For the latter two, he also has to go to our local police station and get his fingerprints taken. He's going to do that on Monday, along with getting a notarised copy of his passport sorted out to send to Germany.

It's all been rather frustrating.

And I am grumpy because the client who I spent last week busting my ass on behalf of, trying to sort out their crewing issues, has now phoned back and cancelled about half of the crew they'd booked. I had already sorted people out for them for those days and now I've had to un-sort. Obviously changes happen and clients do need to cancel stuff; but it's very frustrating when you know that it's happening because of bad planning on their part rather than thing outside of their control. *grumble grumble grumble*.

However, my thermal underwear (Marks and Spencer) and two polo-neck sweaters (eBay) have arrived, so that's a LARGE tick in the positive box. Do you KNOW how prohibititively expensive Damart thermals are these days? And could someone please explain to me why women's thermal underwear is mostly all lacy and with low-cut necks that expose your chest to the cold, rather than up to your chin and down below your bottom to keep out the drafts? I have actually bought M&S men's vests, as the women's range was so impractical. However, so far, I have drawn the line at combinations.

rayburnOh, and Mitey Mite - a Rayburn is a solid-fuel range cooker that can also heat your water and run your central heating. It's got a hotplate on the top and an oven on the right in this particular model. Apparently if you run it on low and leave the bottom door open, it also makes a good sleeping-place for cats ... .

We are planning on installing it the kitchen and keeping it running for the autumn/winter/spring, to keep that end of the house warm and cosy. At the moment it's quite damp, which we think is because the walls are stone and about eighteen inches thick and there's no damp course.

We are also having issues working out the correct temperature to keep the central heating thermostat - again because of the thick walls I think, although the oil-fired central heating seems very effective in heating the radiators - however it seems to take quite a while to heat up and then a while to cool down again. And because the house is quite long and thin it's not the most efficient shape for heat retention.

So far we've found that the best option seems to be to keep the heating on at about 14 degrees centigrade all the time - the thick walls then retain the heat and after a couple of days the boiler is barely working at all. It's really just a case of working out the best way to handle it. But an always-on heat source in the kitchen should really help.

I will now remove my heating-geek hat and go and take B a cup of tea - he got in at about 4am from a get-out in Liverpool (we stayed at his parents last night) and now we need to be compos-mentis for 11am for the adoption worker.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

the matter of Britain

WAAF Operations RoomToday, I feel like an extra in 'A Matter Of Life And Death'.

Not because David Niven has suddenly appeared in my garden in a state of neither aliveness or deadness*; but because I have been, figuratively speaking, pushing little shapes about on maps all day whilst drinking cocoa. And then getting a phone call or an email and needing to push them back in the other direction.

So. I have arranged for people to go to:

  • Leeds (Twice)
  • Manchester (Twice)
  • Newport (Once, but for three days)
  • Bolton (Lovely at this time of year)
  • Manchester again (Twice)

and have un-arranged people going to:

  • Liverpool (Twice, on two separate days)
  • Edinburgh (Two people, three days each)

And THEN arranged:

  • Two B&B stays in Liverpool
  • Two B&B stays in Bolton

In addition, I have installed my lovely neighbour's new printer; removed a dead mouse with no head from the pile of dirty pants B has left in the bedroom; and arranged three interviews for new staff the week after next.

Oooooh! But at the weekend I planted carrots, peas, garlic and lettuce in the greenhouse and we made three gallons of beer. I will probably have photos at some point.

* Kind of a Shroedinger's David Niven

Friday, 10 November 2006

conservatively speaking ...

Conservatory BitsDid I mention that I'd bought a conservatory?


Well. I was a bit embarassed about it, and after revealing my rayburn / solid fuel stove / forgetting to tell B debacle, I felt that I needed to wait a bit until I shared.

It was delivered yesterday evening and is now standing in chunks outside the front door.

It was a REALLY, REALLY good bargain - fifty quid. (Although it did cost £150 to get it collected and delivered). The Plan is to use the panels to build two porches around both the front door and the back door, which will, hopefully, not only make the house a bit warmer (the kitchen is SO cold) but also give us somewhere to keep dirty boots and wet coats.

Conservatory BitsI am wondering whether there will be enough of it to put a veranda all along the whole of the front of the house - but I am not sure that that will work. We will have to see.

There are no instructions and no photos of it before it was taken down - just an enormous pile of bits. Most of them are in pretty good condition - there are a couple of frames that are a bit shonkey, but they were thrown in for free, not listed on the auction. So really, it's an enormous, conservatory-shaped jigsaw. It's a good job that we had all that practise on the green-house shaped jigsaw earlier in the year, that's all that I can say.

The rayburn is being delivered tomorrow, by the nice chap we (er, I) bought it off. From his email address and his website he appears to also be in the events industry. Small world. Luckily B will be home to help push it up the steps and in to the kitchen. I am currently watching some double-insulated flue like a hawk on eBay.

Talking of which, I have some things listed - office furniture and clothes that have mysteriously become to small for me. Bid if you dare :).

I am now going to do some invoicing and put the clean washing away.

In addition, I have just found three quarters of a mouse (rear end) under the ironing board.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Worthing and Southlands Hospital

I have recieved an email from a friend of mine who lives in Worthing.

Worthing & Southlands Hospital is being threatened with downgrading. This will result in the closure of the A & E Department and the relocation of Maternity Services to Brighton, which is almost 20 miles away; or more than an hour's drive in rush hour or summer traffic.

There is a campaign to prevent this from happening and there is an online petition that you could sign if you felt so inclined.

I feel very strongly that although the NHS needs to put it's house in order, abolishing local services is not the way forward.

If you felt able to write a post with a link to the petition, that would be fantastic.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go

Today, I have been digging a different kind of hole.

This one is in the greenhouse, rather than in my marriage.

Which makes a nice change.

Do you remember the series 'It's Not Easy Being Green'? One of the things that they did was dig a 'heat sink' in their greenhouse. They insulated the hole and filled it with crushed glass and stuck a piece of wastepipe vertically in it, that ended up near the ridge of the greenhouse. And they put a little fan in the pipe, that ran, I think, off a little solar panel, that took the hot air from the top of the house and ran it through the heat sink.

The idea being that the crushed glass would warm up and then slowly release the stored heat during the night, keeping the frost off. Here's how they did it.

We don't have any crushed glass - but we do have about two tonnes of the pea-gravel (also called scalpings) that the people here before us seemed to be hoarding against some kind of World Scalpings Shortage. Stone holds heat well and the pieces are small enough to let the warm air percolate through; so we'll see how it works.

We have already lined the greenhouse with bubble-wrap - too late for the geraniums I think, as it was a REALLY hard frost the night before we did it; but ready for some peas and some carrots and some lettuce that I am going to put in at the weekend.

I have polystyrene to line the hole with, from the goat's milk delivery boxes.

I think that somewhere, I have an old PC chip fan. And B brought me a small solar panel back from Singapore (did I mention that he is the best husband ever?). If the solar panel isn't big enough, we plan to use a small rechargeable battery to run it.

So, all we need is a length of plastic pipe, which I am just about to go and ask for on Freecycle.

The only trouble is the hole.

It is currently about two feet by about eighteen inches. But only a foot deep. And I have hit a horrible mixture of hard-panned clay and big pebbly things.

Pebbles, in fact, would probably be a good way to describe them.

I am slightly nervous about wielding our rather impressive pick-axe (found in the shed when we moved in) in the greenhouse. 'People who live in greenhouses shouldn't wield pick-axes' is not a cliche for nothing. But I do also have a crowbar, so I thought that tomorrow I might have a go with that.

In other news: Why are cats always on the wrong side of the door?

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

and so the world turns ...

And to add insult to injury I have spoken to B twice this morning on the phone without remembering that today is his birthday.

It is official. I am a shit wife.

Question for the ladies here - is anyone else actually looking forward to the menopause? I *loathe* turning in to a virago who can't find her arse with both hands for one week a month.


*retreats, to drink tea and attempt to become better person*

Sunday, 5 November 2006

tick this box to suppress

Ladies and gentlemen, here's a tip.

Don't bid seriously on both a solid fuel rayburn AND a multifuel cooker on eBay simultaneously without telling your husband what you are doing, the week after he has arrived home jetlagged from Australia and discovered that he needs to restructure his office, go to Scotland immediately for a week AND collect an old carpet (for composting), a water butt and two marrows from Freecyclers before he goes.

Trust me on this.

Everything's fine though. Honest.

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

contented inertia

I think I have pretty much decided that I don't need to move house.

B definitely doesn't need to move house - in fact, he's quite stressed about the whole idea and it's upsetting him. Which is upsetting me.

Over the last week or so (since Kate and Vic came down while B was away and helped me sort things out), I have found myself planning again - thinking that we could do so-and-so over there in that part of the garden. That we could put up a verandah outside the back door to leave our dirty boots and coats in. That I can plant a damson tree just over there.

Also, we have found out that our neighbours are definitely selling up. So we are going to see whether there is any possibility of buying a bit of the field at the back of the house from the new owner. Probably not pig-possible as it's quite close to other houses. But definitely more trees and veg and things. Possibly a goat. A quiet goat.

So this afternoon I have turfed the chooks out of the greenhouse and mulched with cardboard. I have spent a happy half hour at Adam's Apples choosing various trees and bushes (gooseberries!) and I have drawn a plan of the garden and have started seeing what will fit where. I have put a plea on Freecycle for well rotted muck.

Mrs Chicken is still improving in health, and I feel quite a bit better too - pottering around in the sunny afternoon has definitely made me very serene. I think it's going to be frosty tonight - I have put the geraniums in the greenhouse.

I am happy.