Monday, 31 January 2011

Back to my back one last time

Today's been a back-focused day.  This morning I had my class at the hospital (part of post-operative physiotherapy) - 10+ of us (mainly older) back sufferers meet in a gym and do a little circuit where we get on exercise bikes, do press ups, squats, stretches etc.  It is surprisingly effective, and I can do almost all of it!  After that, a quick lunch and then I went off to Frenchay for a post-operative assessment, where I was officially discharged!

Came back home, caught my breath and then out with Bella for what will hopefully be our last bitterly cold walk for a while.  The weather was grey and hazy - so murky I could hardly see Saltford from my lofty skyline, and Keynsham was hard to make out just a few miles away.  Looking for splashes of colour I came across these few non-grey sights.

Bella also managed to look into the camera for a change, but notice the blurred tail in the picture from the never-ending wagging!
In my office at the moment,  I have all three pets draped in various sleeping poses - but poor Bella still has not got her bed!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Driving along.....

I feel as if I've been behind the the wheel all day. Down to the park with Bella this morning before breakfast, followed by a jaunt to Westonbirt Arboretum for a good long walk.  Didn't reckon on so many people there but we always find quiet places to enjoy.  But the cafe was a different matter. Full of people eating their Sunday lunch so swift drive back to Bath to find our own meal.  Prior Park garden centre has cafe which serves delicious food and to our joy it wasn't crowded and the food was great.  Dashed home to sort out the animals and back down into Bath to see "Barney's Version" for the second time as the first efforts came to a grinding halt when the film broke down (some technicality which Marcus has already explained to you and is beyond my poor girlie brain!!!). Now safely at home and writing this while the coffee brews.
(The pic is a sculpture which lives just inside the entrance of a Spanish hotel!)

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Another day, another blog post

One of those Saturdays that just disappear.  After a long sleep (thanks to Su) I spent the day doing those little things that take no time to do but take forever to get around to.  I managed to read the paper and then it was time to walk Bella in the cold wind.  I've had enough of Winter! Having a curry this evening warmed us up.

No real photo-ops today, but this picture taken yesterday evening shows the pecking order of the animals. I've seen Zilla get into Bella's bed with her once before, but never this level of cat supremacy to completely evict her!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Goodbye Hettie....and those cats!!

Hettie is the white dog in the foreground of this pic..she was 13 when it was taken a few weeks ago. She died recently. A friendly and affectionate dog, she is missed by all who knew her.

As for these two.......having a little rest after tearing round the house, jumping on tables, chairs, shelves (!) and finally chased (and chastened) by me.
But now Bella and I are off to the park.  It's so cold out there so she'll enjoy chasing a ball while I dream of being back here, by the fire, hot cup of tea and the crossword...........

Thursday, 27 January 2011

It's my turn to do the blog! What am I going to write about today?

Just realised that it is 9 pm and I haven't done my blogly duties for the day....

Another day at the Degree Factory with all the usual term-time activities, including a cancelled meeting. More interestingly to me is that - although the University won't buy me an iPad for work - they will buy me a MacBook Air, which is not quite as light but costs twice the price.... The joys of organisational "logic"!

I have not noticed anything worthy of photographing today, so will instead share a couple of pictures from my archive. The first one is above the clouds at sunrise on our flight to Lisbon in October:-

The second one is the mighty Randall in one of his memorable poses:-

- Posted using BlogPress from Marcus' iPad

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Flora and fauna.........

Spent most of the day at home moving furniture around.  This wasn't just the act of woman with time on her hands. I need flat surfaces on which to put seed trays, in good light and safe from cats who think I've provided indoor "facilities" for them.
We only have one room where this is possible - our bedroom.  So after much pushing and shoving we now have two chests of drawers under the windows which is perfect.  I can now start planting!
So who's the cute dog? Her name is Lily. She's a labradoodle and absolutely bonkers.  She is also Bella's friend and we met up with her today in Alice Park.  They both chased the same ball for about an hour.  Now wasn't that exciting!
Hopefully tomorrow will bring more life-enhancing, intellectually stimulating experiences.................

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Unusual sights

Up with the dawn to get the paper and take Bella out for a walk in the park, we saw the best part of the day with a nearly cloudless sky.

While there, we saw one of Bath's common sights - a flock of seagulls (real seagulls - not the 80s band more famous for the guitarists's hairstyle than their hit single "I Ran").  They come to Bath every morning from Chew Valley Lake to terrorise the tourists ( and sometimes residents) and steal their sandwiches.

After this, I went off to work which was fine and furnished this surprise vision of Scottish Country dancing, with these middle aged kilted dancers in the middle of the canteen area - and a lot of bemused students trying to eat their lunch! 

Monday, 24 January 2011


Was just about to go upstairs to bed when I realised I'd not done this blog today....I've been so busy trying looking at different options for our 2nd holiday (!) i.e. surfing the airline sites etc I've not had time to think of anything else. One success - bought cheap tickets to Gatwick Airport that have been reduced from £48 to £9.  Don't know how they do it, just glad they do.  Can't book return trip as they're not available for another couple of have to be vigilant in this game!   I will sleep easier knowing that one mountain has been climbed.................................................................................................goodnight.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Half a film is better than no film

Today we went down to the Little Theatre in Bath to see a preview screening of "Barney's Version", with Paul Giamatii, Minnie Driver, Rosamund Pike & Dustin Hoffman. It was really enjoyable and extremely funny in places - right up to the point where the picture disappeared (not the director's intention!) leaving us with just the soundtrack. Despite desperate attempts on the part of the staff, they were unable to get it working again - the file was corrupted and they could not get working again without emailing the distributor to get another copy sent over the Internet. So much for digital distribution being the way ahead!

The upshot was that all the audience got given a free ticket for any other film showing. Su and I agreed that we will happily use our free ticket to go and see this film all the way to it's conclusion, having seen over an hour's worth (and happy to see this part again as well). So, this previews screening has worked as far as the distributor's aims of generating some word of mouth publicity (that's "viral advertising" to all you hip young dudes out there).

With a bit more time on our hands than we had anticipated, it was off to do a gentle bit of shopping, and have a yummy pie outside the Abbey.

Later on, we went to Westonbirt for a walk with Bella, seeing this really organic tree with lots of moss, some great seed pods on a tree and a hint of sunset.

- Posted mainly using BlogPress from Marcus' iPad - with a bit of finishing off using Safari on iPad and Blogger's old style interface (a bit tedious, but good practice for travel blogging, of which more when Su's Tours has finally finished researching lots of different possibilities for June/July's jaunting ;-)!

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Up at dawn again, quick shower and off with Bella for short walk/collect paper.  Home for breakfast for all mammals including Marcus, who kindly gave me lift to bus station to catch the X39 to Bristol....because today was OPEN UNIVERSITY TUTORIAL DAY!  In the space of 3 hours my poor brain was crammed with complex detail about the sonata form of composing, the Irish uprisings and Benin art.  All equally fascinating but by the time we were done I was ready for my lunch..dim sum at the local chinese which is my reward (from Marcus) for being a good student.
Glad to get home to read the paper and catch up with myself and t.v. programmes I've missed this week....e.g. Shameless and Gardener's World. Kettle on, chocolate nicely chilled. I'm ready for a night in........

Friday, 21 January 2011

It's Friday!

I've made it through my first week of teaching since my op - and survived! Fridays are particularly full on teaching days, as I do 11am - 4 pm without a break. I finally got out of the building at 5 o'clock, and the traffic was light for rush hour, so I was home at dusk (great that the days are finally getting perceptibly longer).

Su is still poring over her laptop in her "Su's Tours" role - at the moment, Florence is winning out over Lesbos for the Summer, and it looks as though France has slipped down the rankings in the potential holiday stakes. Keep on watching this space.

No photos taken today, so here's one from when it was colder than it even is today...

- Posted using BlogPress from Marcus' iPad

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Took Bella up to the racetrack for her afternoon walk and couldn't believe how cold it was...positively Arctic!!  I'd forgotten that part of the world has it's own climate - extreme.  

But managed to take a few pics while I was up there..........................

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A Day in Pictures

I have been to work today, but rather than go on about that, I thought I'd show some of the sights I've seen today, starting with dawn out the back of the house.
 On my way to UWE, I saw this plume of smoke - it had been visible from the outskirts of Bath (from about 10 miles away) as I drove to Bristol.
It was such a lovely day, that I left as soon as I could and came home to go out for a walk with Su & Bella - we went down by the river, where Su impersonated a pylon, as this shot of her shadow shows. 
 You can see where we live from down by the river - we are up on the hill!

On the way home, we saw this longstanding bit of graffiti - no idea who it is a portrait of, if anyone. 
 The end of the day saw a large full moon coming up over Solsbury Hill - the same view as this morning...
I tried out my 8X zoom lens on the iPhone that Ben & Lena bought me for Christmas on this moon as well.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


At last the sun returned but first I needed to brace myself for the dentist....was pleasantly surprised as no treatment! Well not quite true - a small maintenance job needed.  But not today!  Shot off to reward myself with coffee at second favourite garden centre and bought Marcus a tree (Prunus x subhirtella 'Autumnalis'  -winter flowering cherry). Spent rest of day in the front garden. I planted the tree for all the world to admire which they will when the blossom appears. Sorted out planters for windowsill and the ones that currently live on the boundary wall filled them with Cheiranthus allionii. My sister gave me some helibores for Christmas and they too have found a new home - where else but under the new tree.  

Not sure if this poor plant has survived the winter but it's turned from green to this lovely bluey-grey colour so it's still welcome to stay in the garden a while longer.

Ended the afternoon in the back garden admiring the moon.  When Bella and I were  in the park earlier we'd seen the sun set and the big moon rise opposite each other.  Truly stunning sight and of course I'd left my camera at home!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Hard Work!

Because we stayed up into the early hours of this morning, we have both felt a little sluggish today, although that has not stopped us doing stuff.  The cause of our staying up late?  I was watching a film, "Aeon Flux", a 2005 sci-fi film with an interesting cast (Charlize Theron, Sophie Okenedo, Peter Postlethwaite) but quite a threadbare plot - as is too often the case with sci-fi.  I wished they had spent a little less on the special effects and a bit more on story development.  While I goggled at this, Su was goggling at the computer looking up the possibility of going to Lesbos this Summer, rather than France. Watch this space...

And so it was that we were awake till nearly 2, after our jaunt to Birmingham yesterday.  Bella was up and about before 8, so that got us going.  I also had my first post-operative back class, as this shot attests (Yes, I was  on one of these!):-

After that shock to the system, I have spent the day looking at my computer screen, trying to get ready for tomorrow - my first day's teaching since November.  Randall had the right idea, surveying the world from his comfy perch in between snacks.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sunday outing........

Up at the crack of dawn, quick breakfast, dog emptied (and put in car), tires pumped, tank filled and off we went to Birmingham to see Ben & Lena (son and spouse) to deliver forgotten and belated Christmas presents. Had pit stop half way as realised we hadn't had enough coffee and arrived by midday as expected.  Straight out to park so we could all stretch our legs, back for quick cuppa for us, bowl of water for Bella before heading back home in daylight. We knew it was going to rain heavily and neither of us enjoys driving through a monsoon in the dark!  Home by 5......phew!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Shameless Saturday

We have indulged in a TV fest today - catching up with the five episodes of "Shameless" that were broadcast on Channel 4 this week.  In the middle of our marathon session, I managed to get the dog out for a walk, on the way seeing three Skodas in a row (no jackpot, though!)

Walking with Bella, I found this discarded bicycle chain, left - very artistically - in the road:-

After finishing our "Shameless" marathon, I managed to do a couple of hours of work before coming back down to viewing position to watch the truly inspirational "Dante's Peak" with Piers Brosnan as a geologist who thinks that carbon dioxide kills trees!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Coffee with a friend

Would like to pay a tribute to Carol, a gardener friend of mine, who not only survived a nasty car/van collision (she was in the van which was a write-off) she's come up with a new business venture while she was recovering....which is typical of her as she will have a go at anything! Will advertise it once it's up and running.
Carol and I have been working together for about a year. She's a brilliant weeder - who needs chemicals when she gets going - but has an ambivalent relationship with roses!!
So today we met up for a coffee and a catch-up at Bath's best garden centre.....

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Short and sweet

Another day at UWE where I spent all day in a Training Session called "Future Focus".  This is aimed at managers to enable them to encourage those they manage to more closely "align with the University's Mission Statement and to increase engagement."  This seemed more than a little bit ironic, seeing as all the academic staff in the room have all had to apply for their jobs again and are waiting to be interviewed to see if they are going to get a job as a manager or not!

As you can imagine, I found being indoctrinated into how to be a good corporate clone a really exciting use of my time - and there is another day of stuff tomorrow to look forward to.  Luckily when I cam home, the lovely Su poured me a big glass of wine and made me a lovely dinner, and I am now sitting with my feet up in front of the TV - much better!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Wet Wednesday

Marcus went back to work today and I had a 2 hour teaching session myself. I'm instructing a friend of mine in the use of her iPad. This simple device is easy to use unless you are forgetful and easily distracted which describes my friend to a tee. So we looked at emails, and then looked again, and we moved on to surfing the internet which proved to be more productive as she found and spent a happy half hour looking at houses. Meanwhile it rained. Incessantly. Bella and I took ourselves off to the park. She doesn't mind the rain. I quite like it too as long as it's not windy and I'm half way round Bath race track wishing Bella would please just find her stick and then we could go home!

So the pics today are nothing to do with rain or computers. The sunset at Brean was taken the other day and the strange vehicle was being exhibited at the Design Museum in London a few years ago.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Last Day Before Starting Back...

I know that I should have been working really hard today, but - as I will spend the next 3 days on UWE campus all day solid, and the sun was shining for a fair part of the day, I let work mainly wait until after dark... We started off by taking Bella to the vets, where she got a clean bill of health and I took this photo of seagulls flying against dark clouds:-
After that it was time for a coffee and then I went down to our share of allotment, and hacked away at the ivy and grass-overgrown patch for an hour or so.  Very satisfying - but there's so much more to do... Lunch and a little rest followed before it was time to catch the last couple of hours of sunshine at Westonbirt.  I left Su to look around the garden centre there while Bella and I looked for sticks in the woods - passing the charcoaling ovens, wooden construction (with twee wording on it) and lovely stands of dogwood before meeting up with Su for yet another coffee.  


Monday, 10 January 2011


Regular readers may remember me mentioning that I'm an Open University student. The course is really interesting and I've been enjoying it immensely....BUT I keep forgetting that I'm a student who needs to keep up with course work. No I don't have a memory problem. I'm just a "typical" student (ask Marcus!!) who is easily distracted and then has to face CATCHING UP....which is what I should be doing now as I have a tutorial this evening to which I am reluctant to go. Whether I get away with skiving is another matter. It's not always easy being married to a university lecturer and have a son who's a school teacher. They "encourage" me (I call it bullying) to get my head down and most of time it works but today.........
What I'd really like to do is have a tasty supper - some pasta maybe with a glass of wine - and watch a dvd or catch up with some of many films we've recorded and yet to see.
It's now raining. The temperature has dropped and the wind's up. Maybe if I offer to make a pudding. That usually works....