Monday 16 November 2009

Why do men always think they know best...

One sadness for me moving from my old house is that I loved it and I had just about got it to where I wanted it to be - all the major jobs had been done and the dust and upheaval were only a dim and distant memory. Approximately 18 months before we moved we'd just installed a dream bathroom, which I still miss now!

Our new house is not very new at all, it's an old stone farmhouse, with 3 foot thick walls. We've had to learn its ways; we had mould, we've let the house breath, we've had bats in the roof and we've grown to like them, we've had mice (see previous posting), um we're still working on that one!

Now don't get me wrong, J is very handy and very clever at DIY, he just refuses to read instructions or look into anything before hand. A case in point occurred this weekend. J was laying down the sub floor in the kitchen in preparation for tiling. He carried on regardless and put down T&G chipboard (which is what we had taken up I admit). He asked me to research whether we needed to screw it down or leave it 'floating'. Big mistake. I researched using the Internet and everywhere but everywhere said DON'T DO IT, do not EVER use chipboard with tiles - emphatically a definite NO NO (as apparently eventually the movement in the wooden floor cracks the grout and the tiles - bit like trying to tile a trampoline I suppose - makes sense to me).

Unfortunately when I relayed this information to J he was not best pleased. He took it out on me - a bit unfair I thought as I was just the messenger!

J huffed, puffed, stamped his feet and shouted just a bit. The floor is coming up tomorrow and we're starting again.

When I relayed this to Him and Her Next Door, He was a bit quiet (Him Next Door had helped J lay the floor). Her Next Door on the other hand was quite relieved as she'd also read things on the Internet but hadn't wanted (dared) to interfere.

Definitely a male problem then.

I've now been appointed site manager! I think I need a hard hat.

Friday 13 November 2009

My Hobby - Farmville

I might have stopped watching a bit of telly since my move but with these nights drawing in I seem to be getting fanatical about Farmville on Facebook.

Never heard of it... stay away if you have an obsessive nature - it becomes addictive and you fear losing your crops if you do not, on a daily basis, check on them. This is how they have you by the short and curlys and guarantee repeat game playing! Simple really.

Its pluses as an online game include not worrying about winning or losing, or the game running out of time. The aim is also simple. You strive to reach the next level; which you attain by gaining XP (experience). The more you sow, reap, help others the more XP and money you gain. Every level enables you to buy a wider variety of crops and decorations for your farm.

As well as buying seeds, planting them and generally looking after the crop rotation you can buy animals, trees, buildings and various decorations such as hay bales, wooden seats, wheelbarrows etc to spice up your farm. The animals & trees enable you to gain money from their produce, buildings and decorations just make your farm more interesting, although building\adding them can add to your XP.

Seasonal decorations are offered for a limited time only, Halloween brought lanterns and scary trees. Autumn had heaps of leaves on offer, maple trees & a harvest table, what on earth will Christmas bring? I can't wait.

The game uses the social side of Facebook by encouraging you to acquire neighbours. Having lots of neighbours is beneficial, not only can you earn money and XP (by visiting and helping on neighbouring farms), but with eight or more neighbours, you can expand and own more land. Gifts (such as trees and animals) can also be handed out to your neighbours - who shamelessly request them.

It's fun to look at your friends' farms too and psychologically analyse them; are they anally retentive (like mine) and have everything neatly in order, pigs and hens in pens, house with garden etc or more chaotic; large, flashy and haphazard with plots of land everywhere & anywhere, animals roaming free and trees plonked into position?

Nearly every day I say to myself I'm going to ignore my virtual farm, but my poor crops will fail and all my neighbours will notice - its become a bit of a chore really but I somehow have to find the time to do it!

Thursday 5 November 2009

My Gran and the Great Tight Battle

Firstly, let me say that my Gran is truly wonderful. She is 99 and has all her marbles, she remembers everything without a problem; phone numbers, addresses, everyone's date of birth - Alzheimer's hasn't darkened her door.

God love her.

She most definitely has a mind of her own.

Her body though can sometimes let her down.

Easily getting out of breath she is now finding it very hard work getting dressed, and would like a day off now and again (don't we all). Her Next Door (my Mum) thinks that this could be the slow road to ruin (at 99!)...

The women in this household have just succeeded in persuading Gran to wear trousers instead of skirts and underskirts making this daily task a little easier, and she admits she should have done it years ago. But will she give up tights? Emphatically not. She is refusing to discuss it anymore. She tells us she has to use up all the tights she has in the drawer before she considers it (and she has hundreds); she simply is not going to waste them.

I find tights a devil of a job at my age, at 99 I'll be lucky to know which end is up - so my hat goes off to her.

That's the spirit Gran, stand your ground. Why not - I think you've earned it. But somehow I doubt you'll get tights from Her Next Door this Christmas!

My new camera!

When we moved J (my partner) and I thought we would make some general changes, and one was not to have a TV in the bedroom anymore - mainly because we tended to watch absolute rubbish and then end up tired the next day. In fact since we've moved we all watch a lot less TV generally and it's amazing how much more time I have available to do something more interesting instead. Don't get me wrong we still like to slob in front of it inanely when the fancy takes us.

One of my new interests, besides blogging, is photography. I've always enjoyed it but living in Pembrokeshire now there are so many beautiful photos waiting to be taken, its whetted my appetite again.

I bought my first digital camera when my daughter (G8) was nearly one. It's strange to think that she has never gone to Boots and waited with fevered anticipation to collect photographs, and has no idea what a roll of film really is. Technology evolves quickly - which also means my 7 year old camera is positively archaic. My Canon Ixus has taken some good photos in its time (all the Pembrokeshire photos in the slideshow top right), but is now quite slow. I have to ask people to pose for 10 seconds while it warms up, in that time they generally wonder off - time for a new one me thinks. G8 is delighted as she is in line for the old one.

I thought about buying a DSLR, but for me because of their bulk I don't think I'd end up carrying it around with me very much - then not having a camera to hand makes it difficult to take pictures! I've gone for a bit of a hybrid - the Canon G11. It's basically still a point and shoot compact camera and I can take it anywhere, but it does have a full manual mode and you can buy accessories including fancy pants lenses etc (this might be a bit advanced for me at this point). Hopefully the camera will make me feel like a real photographer, even if I'm not.

I'm still a bit of an ignoramus when it comes to the manual mode, but it'll be another new learning curve and something for me to do when I'm not watching TV! Everybody say CHEESE :)

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Welsh Language & Schools

My daughter goes to a school where Welsh is taught as the first language. My Mum and I decided we'd like to learn it too, dyn ni dysgu Cymraeg! We have been trying for three years now - without much success I have to say. My Dad tried for a year then gave up with the lame excuse that he has too much to do! (Wish I'd thought of that one).

I ask my daughter about the mutations, she assures me it's just to make the words sound better, but I'm an adult, I need rules and it panics me, she doesn't worry about it and is fluent. Hmmmm.

I am continuously astonished at how easily she has picked up this very difficult to learn second language. It struck me that we ought to do this in the English schools, the Canadians do it with French - this immersion technique and it appears to work, perhaps because a young child lacks self-consciousness and negativism? My daughter did have some intensive language lessons for two days a week for a little over a year, outside of her normal schooling (we didn't move until she was in year 2). Since then she has been simply immersed in the language at school and has gone from strength to strength. She has not lost ground in the standard subjects, in fact she is as bad at maths as she would be in England :).

One other brilliant positive, is that Welsh schools don't have national testing HURAH. My daughter is always the very youngest in her year, we were still in England when at just a few days older than six she was being prepared for the SATs. After two years of enjoying school she started to dislike it, this was serious stuff. The pressure was on; spellings every week, homework for the weekend, reading every night. We had parental guidance notes about what to encourage when we were working with our child so that they would jump through the hoops and pass the tests. I felt pressure and put pressure on my child - I tried not to, but I did. Why do we do that? Surely if you allow children the space to enjoy learning - they will actually learn.

No testing here, but the school my child will end up in is far, far better rated then any of the local senior schools in the area we left. Says it all really.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

The Wardrobe

In my previous life I was known to frequent Monsoon on occasion (we had a new shop in the town I used to live in & from the first day it opened its doors I couldn't resist). I bought beautiful skirts, dresses, trousers etc, mainly for work but also for special parties. Now they lay forlorn and redundant taking up all the space in the wardrobe. I use three drawers in a chest of drawers for my daily attire now - these are filled with underwear (I haven't sunk that low), jeans, fleeces and t-shirts. That's it, that's all I wear - oh, OK I admit it, I may also be seen in jogging bottoms if cleaning or appropriately enough, jogging.

My feet have come off even worse, I wear Crocs, wellies or trainers.

It's not just me - the men in this household have always relished the distinctly casual look but Her Next Door and my Gran also dress down now. Since moving we have all weeded out only our very favourite posh clothes to keep, many sackfuls have ended up at the charity shop or the car boot! In Her Next Door's case this is also partly due to the fact that she no longer has the myriad of wardrobe space she once had (which had been specially built by Him Next Door). Downsizing in more ways than one.

I'm not sure how Her Next Door and Gran feel but I personally prefer this new look - I feel it's quite liberating. Who here cares what I wear or what I look like, I've persuaded myself you are not judged on that. Anyway I'd look mighty silly doing the gardening or stomping over the countryside on a six mile hike in my posh frock. Not at all practical either.

I hate it when I'm at work and a client phones in and says I need to site visit. Gulp. That means I have to dress up in the posh clothes stored in the wardrobe, wear makeup, look presentable. I'm so out of practice it's quite daunting and I feel I never quite come up to scratch. The city is like another world; the hustle and bustle, the shops with glittery things in them, everyone busy chasing their tails, so focused. I don't feel I fit in anymore - I definitely feel not worthy and try very hard not to catch my reflection in the shop windows in case I see tattooed on my forehead - SO LAST SEASON DAAAHLING.

It brings home to me the quote "The most important things in life aren't things.” Anthony J. D'Angelo, I read it every day from my coffee mat. Maybe the environment I find myself in encourages me to put less value on my expensive clothes - yes the slobby look. I hear it's making a comeback in this recession. I'd highly recommend it - but then I would!

Monday 2 November 2009

Not so nice mice - moved in without asking!

After some encouragement from my follower (yes that is singular) I thought I'd update... it's been a few months.

Summer was a somewhat wet affair, although September and October brought with it weeks of sunshine and very mild weather. Unfortunately with this mild Autumn along came lots and lots of field mice. I have never really lived in the countryside before - you are much closer to nature that's for sure. We had one solitary mouse in the house last year, the dog was useless! After a brainwave from my partner we put all the settees up on dining room chairs to give her a clear run at it, she at last caught it, but didn't kill it. I thought poor little traumatised mouse... and carefully nestled her in the palm of my hand and gently put her down at the bottom of the garden.

This Autumn it's a different story, it's all out warfare. We have found them in our log cabin and in the garage. They like gnawing - they have gnawed the soft handle bars on my daughters scooter, eaten through two rather expensive suit cases (that belong to my parents) and through the bag of our tent. Last night I put some kitchen waste into the compost bin and I saw the bottom of one of the little blighters disappearing into the warm nest we have so thoughtfully provided. My gran delights in telling us horror stories and she assures us they can squeeze through holes the size of a pencil, their bones collapse apparently - too much information.

We are trying peppermint oil, traps and those electronic thingys that emit noises not heard by man but apparently the little rodents don't like... hmmm we're getting desperate. Our neighbour trapped 12 in their downstairs toilet so it could be worse! I don't think we'll win this war, we are the traditional army whereas they deploy guerrilla tactics. 1-0 to the mice so far.
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