Thursday, 30 October 2014

Blogtoberfest 2014 Day 30: 888,246 Poppies

I'm beginning to think I may be a bit stupid!

{waits for sniggering to stop ...}

.... yesterday I went to London, but for some unknown reason it hadn't occurred to me that London during the half term school holiday would be busy, or that the area around the Tower of London would be especially busy with people eager to see the last few days of the poppy installation.
It was jam packed with sightseers! The crowds were so bad that it took me nearly an hour to get from Tower Hill underground station to the front of the Tower of London by the railings where it was possible to see the poppies, normally about ten minutes walk. It was also raining, so there was the added problem of avoiding the ones with umbrellas who seemed intent on taking people's eyes out!
But then I managed to get to the front and saw the poppies .... and the crowds and the wait and the rain didn't matter.  They were amazing.  It wasn't really the day for photographs - wet and misty (the top of The Shard is obscured by mist in the first one) and no chance of choosing a good position, but I took some anyway.  I'd taken the longer lens with me to get some closer shots but it wasn't safe to change it (being continuously jostled, I was worried I'd drop one or other of the lenses) so these were taken with the standard lens.

Words really can't describe the sight of all the poppies and actually seeing them all spread out below me did make me a bit tearful.  I was feeling emotional anyway, being in London without Ced: London was 'our place' so it was strange to be at the Tower, one of our favourite places, without him.  I'm so glad I went to see them.
As for the rest of the day ... getting back to the underground was another challenge.  It had cleared a little so didn't take quite as long, only to find that they'd closed the station due to overcrowding!  I followed directions to the next station to find that closed as well due to ... you've guessed it - overcrowding. So what to do?  I could have waited for them to re-open the stations but I had no idea how long that would take and I was wet and getting cold so I started to walk back towards the Embankment.
I was also looking for photos of 'patriotism' so was hoping to see some flags or something, but no luck.  But what I did see was a bus stop for one of the tour buses so I treated myself to a ticket and settled down for the commentary as we drove around London.  The ticket entitled me to two different bus tours and a river tour but I didn't have time to do the river one this time.  Anyway, that's how I spent the rest of my day, seeing all the sights of London through rain splashed windows.  I had food and drink with me, the commentary was interesting and sitting in the warmth of the tour bus I soon dried out and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  An added bonus was that one of the bus routes passed the coach station so I stayed on that bus for a second trip until it got to the coach station, so avoided having to use the underground.
The coach journey home was a bit fraught.  We left on time but were delayed for 25 minutes by an accident on the motorway, then an additional 10 minutes by another delay a bit further on, and finally another 20 minutes due to a detour because one of the main roads just outside of Devizes was closed for repairs.  All of which meant that I didn't get home till gone 11, tired but happy with how the day turned out and glad I went!

303/365: Honeysuckle

Surprised to see some more flowers on the honeysuckle.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Blogtoberfest 2014 Day 29: W...W...W...Wednesday

I'm joining in with a meme organised by MizB @ shouldbereading. To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?
Currently reading:  'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot.
The blurb say: Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

This is one of my book group reads and for once, is a non-fiction.  I've only just started it but so far, I like the style of writing and it looks like it is going to live up to all the hype about it.

Recently finished: 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' by Rachel Joyce.
The blurb says: When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.
I loved this book.  It's the best one I've read for ages, very poignant and thought provoking.  It's stayed in my mind since I finished reading it, I just didn't want it to finish. 

Reading next: 'Sarah's Key' by Tatiana de Rosnay.

The blurb says: Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten-year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard—their secret hiding place—and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released.
Sixty Years Later: Sarah’s story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles onto a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah, and to questions about her own future. 

This is another book group read.  I saw, and enjoyed, the film a few years ago so am hoping it doesn't spoil my enjoyment of the book.

Linking with Blogtoberfest 2014

302/365: Spirea

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Blogtoberfest 2014 Day 28: Getting Excited

I've spent a good few hours today looking for my guide to London.  No luck, I can't find it and to be honest, I can't even remember the last time I saw it or used it.  I know it's here somewhere as it definitely wouldn't have been thrown away but I've obviously put if somewhere safe or, more likely, it's still in a box waiting to be unpacked and loved again.  It's just a bit frustrating as I'm off to London tomorrow and it such a useful book.  It's pocket sized with really clear maps which are easy to read even with my poor eyesight and I feel a bit lost without it, even though I know the way really!
I'm heading for the Tower of London to see the poppies before the installation is dismantled on Remembrance Day and I also want to see The Mall, St James Park, The Embankment and the Millennium Bridge if I have enough time.  I have plans for the photos I'd like to take but the weather forecast is dire so I'll have to see how it goes.  That's the downside of booking tickets in advance, but I can't change it now so I'm hoping that it won't be raining continuously all day.
Anyway, my bag is packed with food for the journey, cameras (batteries fully charged), spare lens, extra memory card, money and tickets.  I'll be tucked up in bed suitably early tonight ready for a 5:00am start tomorrow. 
I'm getting excited ... I love London!

301/365: Begonia

Monday, 27 October 2014

Blogtoberfest 2014 Day 27: The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window ... it is cloudy, but dry.  
I am thinking ... about the changes to the house over the next week.  The work was delayed because the handyman dislocated his ankle, but he is now back at work and will be starting at my home on Thursday.
I am thankful ... that it is half term and I have the chance to rest.

In the kitchen ... I am stock taking in preparation for a big shop later this week.  Now I am following the Slimming World plan I have changes to make to my usual purchases.

I am wearing ... clothes that are now too big as a result of the weight loss so far.

I am creating ... some simple parts for the new beginners, using the three notes they know, so that they can join in with some of the Christmas carol playing next month.

I am going ... to complete the gravelling in the garden this week.

I am wondering ... how and where to celebrate Christmas this year.

I am reading ... 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot.  It's a non-fiction book group read; I wasn't sure of the choice but it is proving to be a much easier read than I was expecting, considering the subject matter. 
I am hoping ...  that the changes to my medication start to make a difference and I feel better.
I am looking forward to ... going to London on Wednesday to see the poppies at the Tower of London.
I am learning ... all about Slimming World food optimising.  It's a big learning curve and is a different approach from the calorie counting but I'm enjoying the new way of eating.
Around the house ...  it is chaos.  The living room and dining room are piled high with the stuff from the soon to be decorated music room. 
I am pondering ... what I can do next in the house. Whatever I decide it won't be done this side of Christmas.

One of my favourite things ... cosy chats with friends and family.
A few plans for the rest of the week ...
  • Tuesday: gardening
  • Wednesday: day trip to London
  • Thursday: Slimming World weigh in, then home for handyman to start work and I'll work in the garden
  • Friday: handyman continuing work and I'll work in the garden
  • Saturday: shopping and cooking for freezer
  • Sunday: gardening + some photography 
  • Monday: handyman to finish work and I'll be teaching + some photography 

A peek into my day ... I haven't felt too well today so have spent most of the day sleeping on the sofa. In between I've done a bit in the garden, watched some TV, made a few phone calls to friends and emailed Joy to reschedule meeting for lunch.
A favourite quote for today ...
"It is never too late to be what you might have been"- George Eliot

300/365: The Back Garden

It's taken a while, but I've finally managed to get the membrane down in the back garden; although it's been about six weeks since the garden was cleared there hasn't been too much regrowth to deal with, just a few weeds which came out easily.  It doesn't look like it in this photo (as I took it quite early on) but the entire exposed area is now covered and the membrane is weighted down.  I will move the excess gravel from the front garden tomorrow and then I'll know how much more I need to get.

Then it's on to replanting the shrubs which belong on this side of the garden.  I'm way behind due to poor weather and poor health, but am determine to get it finished this week, even if it means working in the rain!  I have offers to help me at the weekend if needed, so it should be in good order before I go back to work next week.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

299/365: Pieris

Blogtoberfest 2014 Day 26: This Week ...

Sunday 19th October
The morning was tied up with completing Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, then the rest of the day was spent pottering around doing bits of housework, watching TV and blog reading.
Monday 20th October
Yet another day off work feeling unwell.  I'm getting seriously fed up with this and am hoping it is mostly due to being overtired and that a rest at half term will sort me out.
Tuesday 21st October
I slept in for most of the morning, then had a soak in the bath and got ready for my Tuesday afternoon school; running a lunch time recorder group and teaching the recorder to three classes.  I wasn't feeling 100% but enjoyed the afternoon anyway.  I opted for a quiet evening at home.
Wednesday 22nd October
An early start for my Wednesday morning school, then back home by 11 o'clock and the official start of half term for me.  I was hoping to get out in the garden but it was too wet so spent the afternoon preparing my invoices and completing the supporting paperwork to claim payment for the lessons delivered this term.  Another relaxing evening at home.
Thursday 23rd October
A disappointing start to the day with the Slimming World weigh in; no loss but also no gain - it's so frustrating because I've been stuck at this weight for weeks.  Some good news today though, as I managed to rearrange a new starting date with the decorator (30th Oct), so spent some time moving piles of boxes to empty the room he will be working in.  Finished my letters and submitted my invoices for payment.   Went to see a matinee performance of The Mousetrap at the Theatre Royal in Bath, then another quiet night in, and an early night.
Friday 24th October

I have absolutely no idea what I did today!  I was constantly busy, pottering around the house, but I can't actually say what I achieved - it was one of those sort of days.  I was supposed to be going on a Bizarre Comedy Walk around Bath, but it was cancelled so I stayed at home and finished reading 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry'.  I loved this book, the best one I've read for a long time - very poignant and thought provoking, the sort of book that stays in your mind long after you've finished reading it.

I finished the evening watching TV - the new series of Lewis and then the Graham Norton show - and then started on the next book group choice, 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks', so in the end I didn't get to bed until gone midnight.  So much for my early nights!

Saturday 25th October
Woke up feeling achy so had a long soak in the bath and managed to somehow miss phone calls from family and friends - I must have fallen asleep in the bath. Made a quick trip to town for fresh vegetables and the cash point and then over to Bradford on Avon to a meetups lunch.  There were two no shows, so only a small group of four for lunch which was probably better - sometimes the groups are too big and dissolve into lots of separate conversations.  Anyway, I had a good time and enjoyed their company - I'll see them all again in a couple of weeks because we've all booked our places on a curry night in Frome.  

I fell asleep again when I got home (what is the matter with me!!) and then had a quiet night watching TV - Doctor Who and a repeat of the first Sherlock series.

Linking with The Sunday Round-Up

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Blogtoberfest 2014 Day 25: Six Word Saturday

Enjoyed lunch here with new friends 
© Copyright Chris Talbot and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

© Copyright Jaggery and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

298/365: Fuchsia

Friday, 24 October 2014

Blogtoberfest 2014 Day 24: Librocubicularist

Reading Jen's blog today, I found out that there is actually a word to describe what I get up to ... apparently I'm a librocubicularist.

You live and learn! 

297/365: Cornus Alba 'Baton Rouge'

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Blogtoberfest 2014 Day 23: Highs and Lows

It's been an up and down sort of day ...

Lows include ...
  • weighing in at Slimming World to find that I haven't lost any weight this week!  I'm really disappointed about this as I've put so much effort into sticking to the plan but I'll keep going and hope for a better result next week.
  • breaking a mug.
  • cancelling my planned photo walk this morning because it started to rain.
  • breaking the loom band bracelet that one of my pupils made for me (it's attached it to my cornet case but I've caught it on something and it's starting to unravel).

Highs include ...
  • going to the Theatre Royal in Bath this afternoon to see the Mousetrap.  I'd been told 'don't bother going as it is the most boring play you'll ever see' but I thoroughly enjoyed it. 
  • losing myself for a while, joining Harold Fry on his unlikely pilgrimage (the book I'm reading)
  • trying a new recipe for lunch - Slimming World's chicken tikka 
  • putting the finishing touches to my Advent calendar
  • remembering to post a birthday card to my niece (see, my memory hasn't gone even if I have had to send her belated birthday wishes for the last couple of years)!
  • rearranging a date for the decorator to start work - it'll all be finished by November 3rd.  I can't tell you how happy I am about this - it means I can get the music room sorted before Christmas, which I didn't think was going to happen.
I'm staying in tonight.  There's nothing I want to watch on the TV so I think I'll make a start on sorting out another box of Ced's stuff.

296/365: Cotoneaster

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

295/365: Berries

Blogtoberfest 2014 Day 22: My 1,000th Post!

Yes, that's right ... I've waffled on for 1,000 posts! 
Today I'm sharing a sunset, photographed at Blacklands near Calne.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

294/365: Euonymus

Blogtoberfest 2014 Day 21: Tuesday Ten

Today the Tuesday Ten team have asked us to offer up 10 nuggets of advice to anyone we choose.  Some are general ones but I know who I'm thinking of for a few of them (but have decided to keep the advice anonymous to avoid upsetting people I care about!). 
  1. Dream by all means.  Dream big.  But ... don't forget to enjoy the journey and find pleasure in what you are doing now.  You can't get 'now' back.
  2. Don't try to grow up too fast.  These teenage years are important in forming the adult you will become.
  3. If you have the time to dream, you have the time to get on and do it.  Don't make excuses!
  4. Saving the pennies really does make a difference ... make it a habit.
  5. Smile!
  6. Treasure the little things in life.
  7. Don't allow your head to be full of negative thoughts.
  8. If you don't ask, you'll never know what the answer is!
  9. Start believing in yourself.  If you  don't believe in 'you', why should anyone else?
  10. Don't eat yellow snow!