Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tenerife would be just perfect

It getting colder again here in the UK ... the road-gritting lorry sped by earlier
this evening, showering salt everywhere. We came back to a cold house on our
return from London last Sunday lunchtime ... the warmest room was 10 deg C,
a few degrees higher than outside ... Mrs C had accidentally switched off the
central heating before we left. We tend to keep the hall thermostat on at about
20 deg C, so it took the best part of 24 hours for our house to feel a lot warmer.

Mrs C prefers living in much colder rooms than I do ... she tends to switch off
the central heating at lunchtime, so by early evening I've put on lots of extra layers, extra vest, jumpers, fleece jacket, a thick dressing gown, high
tog-factor socks and sometimes a woolly hat. I've recently said all this before,
but I'm mentioning it again for any new readers.

A few years ago, I decided to sleep apart from her, as she prefers to sleep with only a cotton sheet over her, and with the bedroom windows open all night. I
think she'd feel at home living in an igloo or in a morgue. If I were a bird,
I'd migrate south in the winters, for some warmth - Tenerife would be just

Another reason for sleeping apart, is that I tend to snore badly at night.
Mrs C had often complained about my snoring ... she would give be a hard poke
in the ribs from time to time, to wake me up. So we both sleep a lot better
now, by sleeping in separate bedrooms.

I've mentioned before that we look after our grandchildren A and JJ on alternate
Fridays. Well, this Friday, we've got them for the entire weekend as well, as
their mum and dad are having a short break in New York. They'll be back by
breakfast-time on Monday.

As you can imagine, we have mixed feelings about looking after the children for
a bit more than three days, but then we managed to look after 4 of our own and
2 nieces also when our kids were little ...there were six girls and 4 adults
in the house from 1984 to about 2000 ... I'll stop there as it's a long story.
I'm going off to bed with my hot water bottle.

As it turned out, we only had the children for one night (which went very well),
the reason being that their parents' flight to New York had been cancelled,
owing to bad snow at the JFK(?) Airport. (They arrived at Birmingham Airport
from Nottingham at 6am, only to find out that their plane never set off from
NY ... they spent the rest of the day having fun in Nottingham).

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm back in Blogoland, folks

Hi everyone ... sorry about the news blackout, in the past two weeks. It does
seem a long time ago when I last wrote.

I'm feeling pleased with myself for having got a mountain of paperwork out of
the way. I've just about finished my Gift Aid claim for my local charity, and
hope to raise £1500 in Gift Aid for it (which is a bit lower than last year,
as we've now got fewer members). When I say it was a mountain, it felt like
climbing Everest ... a long, hard slog, and very frustating at times.

One of the highlights of the last two weeks was going to see "The King's
Speech" ... a truly brilliant performance from both Colin Firth and Geoffrey
Rush, and one of the all-time great films to see, I think. Have a look at
some of the film footage on the IMDb website, if you're dubious about going
to see it. Mrs C and I have been watching our usual diet of crime and other
drama on the telly in the evening, though I draw the line at watching
"Midsomer Murders", which is one of Mrs C's favourites. I'm pleased to see
that "Taggart" is back on the TV again ... a more gritty crime series with
some grim "murrders". We've enjoyed watching some of the original Swedish
TV episodes of "Wallander" ... they had a much more realistic feel about them
than the British versions we've seen.

We're in London again, for a long weekend, staying with our daughter L and her
family. The weather has been a lot colder again, with overnight temps of around
minus 1 here (colder up North). Despite this we saw some lovely sunshine today,
and have be out and about in Wimbledon's shopping centre.

I've re-joined a photography group in another local U3A ... last Wednesday's
meeting was all about using Shutter Priority control, some of the results of
which you'll see on my Flickr site ... some good and some not so good, as
regards photographing birds and cars. Our homework for the next meeting
(in mid Feb) is all about twilight photography, with view to capturing some
cloud detail in the sky. We're also meeting up for a photo-shoot at
Nottingham Castle, so I'll be having another go at shooting Robin Hood (the
statue) and other things on the site, and then going for a coffee afterwards
and a group review of our photos, which should be a lot of fun. I'll be
putting my pics up on my Flickr site in due course (a link to this is in
the right side-bar).

Those of you who are interested in photography will have seen some brilliant
guides available in shops like WH Smith (here in the UK). I've just bought
yet another of them: "Getting Started in Digital SLR Photography", which is
packed full of helpful advice and lots and lots of lovely photos. Variations
of this theme appear every 2-3 months on the newsagents' shelves, just like
the computer mags on how to use Windows 7, etc.... well worth it if you're a
novice like me.

Here are three of my recent photos ....


... the above is a view of the house up the hill from us (at dawn) ...
the name Norman Bates springs to my mind.

Here is my granddaughter, A...


Next up is one of my bird photos ... some of the birds are out of focus, but
I think the scene is very dramatic. The birds chasing after bits of bread thrown
up into the air, but with a gale-force wind blowing the birds and myself...


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Briefing at 2340 hours

We said goodbye to our daughter L and her two young children last Tuesday
… they set off by car early evening after the rush hour. I felt sad to
see them go, but at the same time I felt somewhat relieved to have some
free time to myself, and to be able to get on with a pile of admin work
I’ve got to do this month.

Having said that, I was out of the house at 6.45am on Thursday morning,
to help R. get her two children to the childminder’s that morning. R. had
to get into work earlier than usual as she was running a course at her
workplace that day. And on Friday, we had her two children, A and JJ,
with us for 11 hours … our regular fortnightly stint. So I haven't had
much of a break from our grandchildren this past week.

The admin work I referred to earlier includes helping my wife get her tax
return info together … I spent 6 hours on it today, but I'm making slow
progress. I’ve also got a chunk of work to do on my late mother’s probate
(with the help of an accountant), plus about a week’s work sorting my
annual Gift Aid return for my local U3A. I've also got a photo-assignment
to complete this coming week ... all about changing the shutter speed on
my camera to freeze action, and to do some panning also. I'm re-joining a photography group at another U3A this month. I've already taken a few
fast-action photos with variable results, as you will see on my Flickr

So I’m getting round to saying that I won’t be doing much blogging until
early February unfortunately, as I’m under a fair amount of time-pressure
to get all this done. Being one of the world’s best procrastinators, I do
tend to leave things until the last minute … such as the tax return.
However, I’ve found over the years, that I do perform better if I’m
feeling a bit stressed.

That concludes today's briefing. Talk to you soon.