Friday, November 14, 2008

New love

A new passion has entered my life. Not content with the glorious high of owning The Red Shoes, I have now bought myself the longed-for dslr - a Sony Alpha 300. Until now I've had a Konica Minolta Dimage 7, which I 'inherited' from J a couple of years ago. It's been a good friend and taken some beautiful photographs, but it was time for a change. I've made a lens purchase from eBay, got another one on back-order at Jessops and a Crumpler bag also out of stock and on order.
It's all rather novel really and filled with exciting possibilities, only limited by my ability. It's quite a steep learning curve - all this stuff - words like exposure, aperture, focal length and f-stops twirling around in my little brain like autumn leaves in a flurry waiting to settle in the right places.
Photos? I've taken a few. Here's one and the rest can be seen on my Flickr stream.

Porters Lodge saves the world

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Red shoes

new shoes
Have you ever been totally obsessed by a pair of shoes? I never have; never understood the passion that some people (usually women) can have for shoes. I've always been a practical person, preferring comfortable flat shoes for most occasions. I think this came about after sneezing while wearing a pair of high platform shoes in my early twenties and putting my back out for three months (yes, I know that sounds highly unlikely, but it is true!). So when this pair of red shoes took my eye when I was buying myself a pair of slippers last weekend, I was totally shocked at my reaction. Anyone looking closely enough would have seen my pupils immediately dilate. I was a woman in love! Another woman in the shop had been trying them on and debating whether they would be a little too wild for her role as a doctor. The shop assistant suggested the black version, but the doctor dismissed black as boring. Of course she was right. While the black version were simply elegant, the red ones were to die for. She bought the shoes, but I just didn't dare look at the price tag. I knew they would be expensive. They smelt expensive.

I went home, happy with my new slippers, but I couldn't get those shoes out of my mind. All week I kept thinking about them. I looked up the manufacturer online and found a picture of them that I could drool over, but this simply wasn't enough. I had to go back. If they didn't have my size or they felt uncomfortable, it would be fate deciding that I was not destined to own them.

I walked into the shop and there they were.
"Can I have these in a size 4 please?"
The assistant disappeared downstairs to the stock room.
"Only in black, I'm afraid. We've only got the red ones in a size 3."

Now it has been known for size 3's to fit me, but rarely. I decided to try anyway. I felt like Cinderella as I slipped my foot in and pulled up the zip at the side. They fitted as if they had been made for me. I walked around the shop and they were surprisingly comfortable; the leather soft and forgiving. By now I had looked inside and seen the price. It was no shock as I knew they would cost that much. Without a moment's hesitation, I was handing over my card to pay. However, the best bit of this story is that the shoes have now become a very early Christmas present for me from J. Thank you so much!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


It's that time of year again; the time when even cleaning windows or doing the washing up seems preferable to a certain task; the task of writing reports. It's so easy to find a million and one other more urgent things to do, like plumping cushions and dusting down my blog. Wikipedia describes my behaviour as "The relaxed type" rather than "The tense-afraid type" as I certainly don't have negative feelings about it all. Well, not really. I know it has to be done and I know it will be done - eventually.

Maybe I should write my own report (another good work-avoidance tactic, I think!)?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Two posts in one day - this is a record for me! Yesterday I had my lipoma removed which I found shortly before Christmas. I have to say the whole experience was remarkable and I have nothing but praise for the NHS!
I was admitted at 8, taken down to theatre at 9 and was given a light general anaesthetic. I woke in the recovery ward and just felt like I'd had a nice little nap. I was back in my little room (called 'cabins' these are individual rooms for each patient) by 10. Tea and toast brought to me a few minutes later, I was home by 12!

I've had very little pain so far, although my leg does feel stiff and I didn't sleep very well last night. I'm a side-lyer and can't put too much pressure on my right side for very long ever since I fell down some stairs last summer. My left leg is stitched up so I can't lie on that side either. Lying on my back is OK for a very short while.

I shouldn't complain really. At least I don't have to go back to work until I've fully recovered.

New toys

Eleven years after buying my last computer I finally treated myself to a new one. This time, I'm a Mac convert. I've got this rather lovely shiny iMac on my desk now :-)


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ryanair don't care

I had a very special birthday present from Ryanair on Sunday, of an extra 5 hours and 40 minutes in Germany. The bad news is that they were spent at Baden airport!

I had priority boarding and got on the plane, due to leave Baden at 17:10. About half the passengers got on board before everything ground to a halt. The cabin crew were rather baffled and tried to get some information. After a few minutes the pilot told us that we were going to have to get off the plane. Another plane, two stands down from us had been struck by lightning and they were transferring its passengers onto our plane! To add insult to injury, it appeared that once the other plane had been OK'd by an engineer, we would fly out on that one! I’ve only just recovered from being a rather nervous flyer after many years. I can honestly say that this news did not inspire me with confidence!

We were taken back to the terminal building and all staff promptly disappeared. A while later a disembodied voice informed us that the delay would be indefinite as they were waiting for the engineer.
Two hours later the voice said that they didn't know how long it was likely to take and Ryanair were now offering passengers who didn't want to wait, the option of either getting a full refund or leaving on the next available flight....
I joined the queue at the information desk, prepared to take the latter option, but while we were queuing, we were informed that Ryanair were sending a plane to take us to Stansted which would arrive at Baden just before 10.

Eventually we took off at 22:50 and I got home shortly before 1am.

At no point were we offered any food, drink or communications facilities even though airlines have an obligation to do so with such a delay. Having had to arrive at the airport two hours before take off, I had been there for a full 8 hours before our eventual take off.

I bought myself a small something to eat and drink, used my mobile phone to call those who were expecting me and duly faxed my complaint to Ryanair yesterday. I received a reply today giving me a pathetic 5 Euros refund. I am not impressed, to say the least.

A memorable birthday, but for the wrong reasons.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Birthday blues?

With yet another birthday coming up within a matter of hours, I had been starting to feel ever so slightly depressed. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder how I managed to get to be this age. I've also noticed one of the hidden benefits of growing older is that as the wrinkles increase, so your eyesight worsens. So while initially you are aware that they have started to appear and spend good money believing every anti-wrinkle cream's promise of eternal youth, eventually the wrinkles start to blur in front of you...and it has little to do with the money you have spent!

Every year around this time I feel this way and have found a good way of getting over it. Yes, retail therapy is the answer; I buy myself a birthday present. This year the urge to spend a rather large amount of money grabbed hold of me and shook me violently. I will very shortly be ordering myself a shiny new Apple iMac. It's better than looking in a mirror.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Why do you fall so weak and slow?
Good health is what you really need
Come and see our money party
This one will certainly catch you off guard.
Do you want to be extraordinary?
Be happy! Be really healthy!
Paradise is here!
Your future is now!

Monday, January 28, 2008


Today I had my appointment at the local hospital's new-ish "state-of-the-art" treatment centre. It was a model of NHS efficiency. I arrived at 2.45, ten minutes before my allotted time, given a bar-coded, numbered card and directed to wait in the seating area by the "red check-in desk". I kid you not - that's what they call it there, only when you have your turn, it's you and not your luggage that gets weighed! I was called up two minutes before my appointment time and ushered through. Weighed, measured, BMI'd, declared "normal" and taken to another waiting area. After another couple of minutes I was shown into the consultation room, met up with Dr T. who, after shaking my lipoma about (yes, it's very mobile, he said) invited the student nurse to have a go.
After agreeing on its size with the nurse and telling me that I will be sent for a scan, I was free to leave.
It was all so quick - unbelievable compared to my previous experiences of out-patients departments. Well done, NHS! Now I join the list to wait for the operation to remove it. Three months...hey ho!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Of elbows and oranges

Tennis elbow is currently affecting my right arm. Theoretically I probably shouldn't be writing this blog, but there are lots of other things that I probably also shouldn't be doing. Unfortunately, being right-handed, they're hard to avoid. Wednesday evening I had my second steroid injection. I thought I knew what to expect: bad pain for a couple of days followed by several pain-free weeks. It hasn't quite worked out that way. I had bad pain all right. At the time it felt close to some of the worst pain I've ever experienced. Wednesday night and all day Thursday, my arm felt useless. I couldn't straighten it or move it at all without the most excruciating pain. Painkillers didn't seem to even touch it. So it was with some trepidation that I ventured out on Friday morning for my planned trip to BETT, the education technology exhibition at Olympia, London. Fully armed (no pun intended!) with support bandage, ibuprofen and paracetamol I made my way there.

I was careful, making sure I only collected the minimum of literature, most of which normally ends up in the recycling bin. On the other hand I aimed to get to the stands and talk to the reps and see demonstrations of software that were of interest. A second, and no less important aim was to collect as many freebies as I could find.

This year was the Year of the Bag and I came away with a reasonable collection of cotton, jute and canvas bags. Best Bag award was jointly won by the BBC being of good size and sturdy, and the TES for their jute bag with comfortable padded handles.

Weirdest Freebie award went to the BBC for their branded orange (very tasty it was too!).

Most Useful Freebie award went to the NCSL for a wooden USB memory stick.

My tennis elbow gradually eased during the day, but so far I haven't experienced the total lack of pain that I had last time. Maybe it'll take a little longer. Maybe I should end today's blog here and give it a chance to recover.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year

Happy New Year to my reader and any lurkers who have yet to say hello here! It seems odd to be awake and writing this at 8.30 on New Year's Day. Surely I should be buried under the duvet with no intention of showing my face until midday at least? It certainly wasn't that I had an early night. For me these days, 1.00am is way past my bedtime. It wasn't the glorious sunrise that drew me from my sleep; it is an uninspiring misty grey outside. So why is it that the birds are up so early this winter morning, singing their little hearts out? It seems they love my garden; the weedy mess my friend tells me should be declared a SSSI. Maybe they are simply declaring their love of this haven?
New Year's Resolution: to tidy up the garden, pull out every weed, cut back every shrub and mow the lawn.
Somehow I know this is one resolution I won't be able to keep.