Saturday, September 29, 2007

IT matters and DIY jobs.

I've spent the last few hours on the computer as usual,
updating my Flickr accounts mainly... so you'll see
some more photos on this one, which I use for this blog
... especially for you. :)
I'm very pleased with the improvements that Flickr has
made to its basic uploading process ... it's now a doddle
to use, so much so that I may pay for the Pro version
and use it a lot more.
I usually shrink my pics down to around 100kb for use on
Flickr, and I notice that we can now upload up to 100MB
each month ... that would be 1000 pics for me. I'm currently
taking over 2000 pics each year -- I know it's far too many,
but I throw out loads that are crap. I ought to improve my
knowledge of how to use my camera (a Canon 350DSLR), so I
can take better quality pics (and fewer pics overall).
It's so easy to keep "snapping away" when the little ones
are around ... and they're not camera shy (as I used to be
as a kid).

I've more or less finished a blog on how to blog (to show
my IT group at my local U3A). I've also done a Powerpoint
presentation of the same thing, but with loads more
graphics (screenprints) in it ... so the blog looks less
interesting, and less colourful. Also I've had to learn
how to use the New Blogger, which is quite different to
the classic one I'm using at the mo. Overall I think the
New Blogger is a big improvement ... for example it's
much easier to move the page elements around (by drag and
drop, as some of you will have found). However I can't see
how to set up the links to my favourite blogsites, that
would incorporate all the photos that I've got on my current
site... I would have to have advance web design skills,
which I haven't got.

If you have any ideas on how I could improve what I've
written in the above blog (or if you spot some errors), I'd
be very pleased to hear from you.

Today, I'll be pottering around the house, I'll read the
Saturday Times (and catch up on last Saturday's!), and
will pop out for a walk with Mrs C later I think. There are
a host of DIY things I could be doing -- getting rid of a
lot of the spare wood in our garage (old doors & parts of
an old wardrobe, and some old wooden stepladders which are
not safe to use). I've put up on Nottm Realcycle an old TV
set which still works (but which only gets 4 terrestrial
TV channels, plus a padded stool (dumped on us by one of
our daughters while she was moving house recently) ... so
more stuff to get rid of. There are several house painting
jobs to be done, and the car is developing bad rust spots,
which need attention. We need to buy a couple of child
safety gates very soon too, and fence off parts of our
garden too (for the kiddies' safety).

I think I may have told you this little joke before ....
DIY should be called DYI ... "Do Yourself In".

Monday, September 24, 2007

A busy week

I’ve been busy in the last week or so with more work on a
website I’m putting together for two of our daughters. I
bought some proper web-hosting from Heart Internet (£46 a
year) for their starter pro package, which should be OK
for me. If any of you particularly wish to see this
website, please email me. It’s not quite finished yet --
- I’ve got to get some more music files up on the site.

I’ve also been putting together a Powerpoint presentation
all about blogging, which I’ll be giving to my U3A Computer
Club in about 10 days’ time … I’ve very nearly finished that.
I’ve set up a new site on Blogger for demo purposes. I’m
very impressed with the improvements that the Google/Blogger
team have made in the last year or so – it’s much much
better than when I first started out. I reckon the basic
Blogger design (Minima) looks very like some of the
Wordpress sites I see – they tend to have a “corporate”
look about them. And the great thing about a design like
Minima is that you can tweak it as much as you like.

The house has been remarkably quiet since Luce and India left
us to return to their home in London about 10 days ago. We
live in an end-terraced house, which was built in the early
80’s, and our neighbours went off to Spain on a week’s
holiday yesterday, so it’s been even quieter. Not that we
hear much noise from them – an occasional noise of a kitchen
cupboard door being closed, or someone walking downstairs (if
we’re on the stairs ourselves).

Today we babysat with our granddaughter Ava (aka Shibby)
who’s a delight to be with. She’s just at that stage where
she can stand for 5-10 seconds unsupported, when she’s
unaware that she’s doing so, I think. She’ll soon be
toddling around. Her first birthday will be in just over
a week’s time.

Yesterday, Mrs C and I went to see Atonement, the WW2 drama,
which had some surprising/shocking developments in the plot.
It's a brilliant production, and I can recommend it to you,
if you haven't seen it. The only thing I found irritating at
times was the music being played through much of the film.
However this wouldn't stop me seeing the film again in a few
years' time. We've videoed the second episode of a new series
of Kath & Kim, tonight -- looking forward to seeing that later
in the week. "Look at moyee, Kim! Look at moyee!"

I’m starting up another series of talks on Photoshop tomorrow.
So I must sign off now, and read through my presentation again.
Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Photos taken at Chatsworth & Matlock Bath

Here are some more pics from our Derbyshire holiday ...

Litle Ava (our fair-haired granddaughter) said her first few words today: "Ooff, ooff!", when she saw a dog.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Our holiday in Derbyshire

Mrs C and I have had a great week's holiday in Derbyshire.
Our car developed handbrake problems the day before we
left, so one of our daughters, Beck, gave us a lift in her

On the day we set off for Derbyshire, we met up with other
family members … Soph at Chesterfield Bus Station, and Luce,
Jeff & India at Matlock ... all very much to my surprise.
A day or so later the rest of the family joined us ... all of
this done by Mrs C (using her mobile phone).

We stayed at an old house in the centre of Winster, which is
not far from Chatsworth. The property used to to be an old
hotel - The Old Angel. It had the Tudor style stone-faced
windows and old wooden beams everywhere, so it was probably
as old as a nearby pub (which opened in 1472).

The rooms on the ground floor were fairly dark, but upstairs
they were better lit (larger windows). Unfortunately some of
the beams & doorways were very low --- I must have bashed
the top of my head at least 5 times ... so I spent a lot of
the time walking around like Groucho Marx.

One of the disadvantages of being as bald as a coot, is that
I’ve got no hair to cushion / protect my scalp when I bash it.
I wonder how they managed in the Middle Ages .. perhaps tall
men never took their hats off?

The weather was dry and sunny nearly all the time we were there,
and became quite hot in the afternoons. We did various trips
around the Matlock area, including one to Chatsworth (where we
went up into the woodland at the back of the house, around the
Emperor Lake and the waterfalls below it).

The other brilliant walks we did were at Monsall Head, where we
walked down to the viaduct, and a trip to Ilam Hall and nearby
Dovedale -- my first visit to Ilam. A really lovely area. I’ll
put up some photos of the gorgeous views for you in due course.

In Cromford village, just off the A6 near Chatsworth, is a great
second-hand bookshop called Scarthin’s. One of our daughters
recommended the vegetarian food there, so we all piled into the
top floor/rooftop café for a veggie fest one lunchtime. I was
impressed with their massive book collection too.

Derbyshire is really on our doorstep – Chatsworth is only an
hour’s drive away from where we live in Nottingham. Mrs C and I
agree that we should take more day trips there.

We're back home now, and Luce is staying on with us for a few
days (with India), for a few days while Jeff is working abroad.
I’ve been catching up with emails and have been preparing another
IT talk for later this week (mainly about using Hotmail and
Googlemail – Gmail is my favourite email site).

Just as it’s great to get away on holiday somewhere, when the
weather’s good, I think it’s also great to get back home to our
home comforts and somewhat easier lifestyle (which might appear
dull to a lot of people) … plus our more comfortable beds (
impression mattresses), plus no wooden beams. :)

Next up are a couple of photos of The Old Angel's interior,
plus shots of Ilam Hall, the grounds around it, and a little walk
we did from Ilam to part of Dovedale.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dahlias and my family history

We having an Indian summer... lovely warm and dry weather,
which is to continue until the weekend, the forecasters say.
Last Monday, Mrs C and I went round our local city park
(Nottingham Arboretum) where there is a fabulous collection
of dahlias in bloom. Some of the blooms were fading, having
taken a battering from the recent heavy rains. Others like
the ones above looked spectular -- really vivid colours.
It's a pity they don't smell like the old fashioned roses.

The trees are starting to turn to their autumn gold colours.
It's the horse chestnuts which are the first to go (I wonder
if that's always been the case -- I must check that out next
years) -- they're packing their bags, and saying, "We've had
enough of all the unseasonal weather this year. We're off!"
I'm giving my family history talk this morning to the local
U3A -- an introduction to searching for your ancestors online.

A good way to start, if you haven't done this already, is to
look up your ancestors that were alive in 1880/1 on the LDS site, > Search > Census. Put in a name with as
much detail as you know, and then search for the individual.
Once you've found him/her, you'll see on the same page (at the
top on the right hand side), a link to the person's household,
whereby you'll see everyone who lived there at that moment in

Ancestry dot com (and the UK version) are absolutely brilliant.
It is expensive to join, but it would save you masses of time
researching your history by other means. For the UK there is a
free site, for searching for certicates in the
UK registers, but all the info is there on Ancestry including
the 1901 Census for England and Wales, plus the Scottish stuff
as well.

One of my cousins, Anne, has had a breakthrough with searching
for my great uncle Harry and his family, who emigrated to the
US in the early 1900s. We knew very little about them, until I
found their marriage in 1901 (a few months after the Census was
done), and an entry in the 1930 US Census, when I found them
living in Lucas, Ohio. We thought they had emigrated under false
names, as Harry did a sharp exit to evade prosecution for some
kind of criminal offence, allegedly. He was the black sheep in
the family, according to family legend.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Anne found out that they
emigrated to Canada in 1907. Their names appear in the 1911
Canada Census as Canadian citizens, and a few years later, they
moved across to the US (via a ship across Lake Superior to Duluth)
Harry was a brickie, so there would have been plenty of work for
him. He signed up for service in 1918 in the WW1 Draft, which was
good timing as the war ended not long after. He died of stomach
cancer in 1941. They had one surviving daughter, but we have
found no trace of her after the 1930 Census. Anne (and myself)
found all this out on Ancestry -- it's amazing.

Yesterday I found out that our local library service has
Ancestry online (free of charge to access), so I'll resume
researching other family lines in a few month's time.

We're going on holiday to Derbyshire next weekend, so I won't be
blogging until we get back , the weekend of 16-17 September. Mrs
C has kept the exact location a secret -- she's arranged a family
get-together for me, as a pre-60th birthday treat.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Walk in Bradgate Park

Not a lot happened last week, apart from a bit of baby-
sitting, looking after Little Ava while her mum went to
one of the university libraries to read up some news on
food hygiene. (Her mum, R, is an environmental health
inspector who is about to return to work (part-time), after
a year off with maternity leave).
We heard that our eldest daughter, Em, has been successful
in getting the rented house she wanted in Beeston (which is
on west side of Nottingham, nearer the M1). She and her new
bloke are moving their stuff in over the next week or so -
Mrs C and I will be giving them a helping hand. By living
together under one roof, they will save £300 a month on rent.
The savings of (living in) sin.
Yesterday, Mrs C and I went to Leicester to spend the day
with relatives there (Mrs C's brother and his wife). They are
both keen walkers, and we all went off on a 6+ mile walk around
the local parkland at Swithland and Bradgate. There is an old
slate quarry in the centre of Swithland Park, which is now a
lake with fairly steep craggy sides to it, the rest being forest
with woodland walks going through it.

Bradgate Park contains the ruins of a Tudor manor house (Bradgate
Hall, which was Lady Jane Grey's home in the old days), surrounded
by open parkland. The weather was warm, (around 20 deg C) with a
mixture of sunshine and cloud -- ideal for walking. There were some
nice tea shops in Newton Lindley, a nearby village, where we
stopped off for a pot of tea and cakes -- delicious carrot cake,
and coffee and walnut cake. We don't normally eat such fattenning
things, but we needed some extra calories to keep us going.

The way back to the car took us past a lovely herd of deer, which
seemed to be very tame -- most deer run for it if they see anyone
approach them. These would have been sitting ducks if we were