Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Why is it that Pickle has changed where she likes to sleep? She’s a cat who hates to be loomed over, much preferring to associate with humans by sitting next to them on the sofa (and nagging when she thinks it time for dinner). But now for some reason she’s decided to sleep just where we have to step over her to get to and from the sitting room. And gets grumpy when we do so.

Why is it that although you’ve carefully warned the company that sends you two Midsummer Murder DVDs each month that your credit card has been hijacked and given them the new credit card number, that a week later they send you a letter saying that your (old) credit card doesn’t work?

Why is it that GoogleMail decides to put an e-mail from a couple of friends into the most unlikely of folders on my Gmail system and I don’t notice the fact for two days?

Why is it that men (or, more precisely, the Husband) thinks it sensible to go for a 18 mile long walk when he has a huge blister on the base of one foot and afterwards complains of the pain? (Not to mention his bloody socks.)

And why is it that every time I go into town I see lots and lots of Scouts? This at least is easy to work out as the 21st World Scout Jamboree is taking place here in Chelmsford, or to be more precise at Hylands Park. Hylands, which is situated only about a mile or two outside the center of the town is a house together with a huge park that is used for all sorts of events. For example the V festival takes place there every year and so the grounds are an ideal location for the 40,000 scouts currently over here and from all over the world. But clearly they are not confined to Hylands as we often see some in town, often shopping for food, etc.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I've just stumbled upon.. Stumbleupon. I installed the toolbar on my p.c. just 10 minutes ago and have only just started to look at some of the sites that come up but the third one was from here and it's absolutely fascinating. I especially like the second one with someone wearing a Tony Blair mask overseeing John Major falling into a well. Great fun and Stumbledupon looks an interesting way of finding some of the more fascinating sites on the web. Including lots of cats.

I've also found a fascinating site, part of wikiHow called "How to Fit in when visiting London" and I have to say it made me grin. There's a lot of good advice there but also comments that definitely made me lift an eyebrow - for example "Do not attempt to keep up with your average Londoner when it comes to alcohol consumption." I'm certainly not sure I agree with their comments about drinking being a huge part of our social culture.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thank goodness I’ve got a good bank. Yesterday afternoon I received a phone call from them. They asked me whether I had just that day spent a sum of money on my credit card. As the sum was in excess of £1,400 I was able to state categorically that I had not. It turns out that my bank had just received such a claim using my credit card number but the associated information (I assume they meant the usual things like card expiry date, its security code and my home address) was wrong. So the bank had smelled a rat and had phoned me up to check.

I was more than a bit taken aback that such a thing could happen, as I try to take such care with the way I use my credit and debit cards. On the net I am always careful to use the credit card only on a few websites, and those are ones with secure payment facilities. At home whenever I no longer need credit card receipts then I shred them and add them to the compost heap.

Interestingly enough the attempted payment was on a website that I do look at occasionally. It sells electrical goods and it’s a good place to use when seeking comparison prices on certain electrical goods. I’ve never actually bought anything from there though, as I’ve always managed to find the same goods at better prices on other websites.

How someone got my credit card number I don’t know. But it’s a good thing my bank checks such things. And they were willing to go that extra mile and ring me at home to check the validity of a payment. When I said that it wasn’t my payment they immediately cancelled my credit card and have put a new one in the post. I should receive it in a couple of days. Hopefully the number of that one won’t leak out. But if it does it is comforting to know that my bank is on my side.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I haven't mentioned my knitting lately but I have still been doing some. I finished a Third Red Hat scarf in red and purple DK wool the day before the cataract operation and afterwards I bought a ball of dark green DK wool and made another scarf using the same pattern. But I'm going through a phase of wanting to knit with finer wool than DK and at the moment I have absolutely no wish to block or to photograph either of them. That shall probably happen some time in the future, I expect.

And so I've gone back to 4 ply yarn. I wanted something that was easy to make, even when I can't see the detail properly, and so I chose a Feather & Fan pattern which works. All you need is the ability to count up to 6. I haven't finished this one but it's a pattern that I can knit over and over again.

Here is the pattern.

Loosely CO 56 sts using 3.5mm knitting needles and 4 ply yarn.

Row 1: (RS) Knit.
Row 2: Purl.
Row 3: K1, *[K2tog] 3 times, [yo, k1] 6 times, [k2tog] 3 times; repeat from * to last stitch, k1.
Row 4: Knit.

Follow pattern until scarf is the desired length.

Let's face it, you can't get an easier pattern than this!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rubbish and recycling

We have a small house and every room is lived in. However, in addition we have to house somewhere the various bags and receptacles provided by our borough council for their recycling schemes. So our hall, a small room, houses the following:

  • a green box: for tins; glass bottles and jars (without their lids); clothing and fabrics not good enough to be given to a charity shop; and tin foil. Everything must be washed and clean before it is put in the box.
  • a sack: for newspaper and general paper. But not for gift wrapping paper, envelopes with windows, brown paper or old telephone directories.
  • another sack: for plastic bottles. Again these must be washed out and the lids removed. No other types of plastic can be put in this sack.
  • yet another sack: for cardboard. All cardboard packaging must be flattened before it is put in the sack.

Outside in the front garden is a brown wheely-bin for garden waste of all types. Except for tree branches deemed not to be “very small”.

The council collect all of these containers on a regular basis. And if anything isn’t as they have deemed (i.e. if someone has left the lids on the plastic bottles, say), then it is just not collected. We also have a black bin, the dustbin, which, the council says, is only to be used for those items which do not fit into any of the recyclable categories I have listed above. (The bin-men check too. I have watched them look into our dustbin to make sure it contains nothing that shouldn’t be in one of the recyclable sacks or bins.)

I would like to think that I care about recycling. I certainly would want to make sure that whatever coming from our household that could be recycled was being so. In fact I now have a compost bin, started and kept going by myself, that takes lots of green matter from the garden as well as fruit and vegetable peelings and waste. I enjoy keeping an eye on it (and I’ve even turned it, as well.)

Despite this more and more I find myself resenting the fact that, with the exception of the compost bin, all the other recycling has been imposed on me and I have absolutely no choice in the matter. I look at the newspaper and it is full of articles telling me I must recycle. The television keeps on talking about how essential recycling is. And I understand the global implications, I really do. But as I get older I find myself getting…. well, I suppose I would say I am becoming a bit rebellious at constantly being told how to live my own life. I want to make up my own mind how I live and what I do, I want the decisions that I make to be mine only. And recycling is just one area of my life where my ability to make decisions on what to do and how, has been taken away from me by an outside authority. I have no choice in the matter. And I resent that.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Beautiful and from YouTube

I'm not a great fan of YouTube. There is a huge amount of dross on it and you can spend a vast amount of time searching through the rubbish to find the stuff worth watching. The fact that I've never managed to imbed any YouTube piece into this blog despite expending a great deal of blood, sweat and tears hasn't helped my attitude to YouTube either.

However every so often I come across something I really enjoy. Here is one, it's really lovely, and I just have to watch it again and again. Enjoy:

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Graduation Ceremony

Last Thursday was quite a day. It was the day the Stepson became a graduate. Yes, he is now entitled to have the initials "B.A. Hons (Cantab)" after his name.

The day itself was very good. It was warm, sunny and, I think, the only dry day we've seen in the last month. The Husband and I arrived at the Pembroke College at about noon, in time for a few photographs.

Then we proceeded to the Stepson’s room where we met up with his mother and then the four of us went to one of the parlours in the library block for drinks. Then at 1.00 we all moved on to the College bowling green where, despite the fact that this is the oldest bowling green in the country, a marquee had been erected on the green. Lunch was excellent, a plate of various salads plus small portions of salmon, chicken, a quiche and vegetarian terrine, followed by fruit salad. Oh and a choice of wine or fruit juice. After this all the graduands (what they are called until they formally become graduates) headed off to have a photograph taken together. (I have a few from here but I wasn’t able to get into a good position.)

Afterwards we all headed off to the Senate House for Cambridge University. The Husband, his ex-wife and myself queued for some time while the graduands were given instructions on how to behave in the actual ceremony. The graduation ceremonies are in the same order as the date each college was originally created. As Pembroke was the sixth college to be formed as part of Cambridge university its graduation ceremony was the sixth that day (there were three ceremonies after Pembroke’s on the Thursday, a full day of graduation ceremonies on the Friday and on Saturday too, which gives one some idea of how many colleges form the university.)

The actual graduation ceremony was full of arcane moments and both interesting but baffling at the same time as the whole ceremony was in Latin, which I have never studied. There was a fair amount of university fellows doffing and then donning their mortar boards, a huge silver mace being carried and the statutes and regulations of Pembroke College being formally placed into position as the ceremony actually started. It was reasonably easy to work out what was generally going on though - the main part came when each graduate in turn knelt in front of the Arch-Chancellor of the University’s representative and was welcomed (again in Latin) as a member of the University. Then he/she stood, bowed to him and then left the hall, being given their degree certificate by the exit.

We stood outside the Senate building for a while as people queued to have formal photographs taken and to buy pictures of the actual ceremony (we weren't allowed to take photos or to film/video the ceremony). Then we all walked back to the college for tea and strawberries.

This ended the actual college programme for the day. I have to say the organisation of the day was incredible, but then one of the papers I saw said that Cambridge had been in existence for 798 years, so I think they've had enough practice to get it right (grin).

We stayed on and took the Stepson out for dinner in a local restaurant. Then we went back to the college and loaded up both cars with all the stuff the Stepson had amassed after a year in college. It was incredible how much stuff he carried out to be loaded into the cars, it just kept on coming (it reminded me of some of those daft comedy routines when the amount of stuff just seemed too much to fit into the room).

It was an excellent day. As the Stepson is staying on at Cambridge to do a 1 year Master of Philosophy course and then he wants to do a 3 year doctorate, both in his subject of History, presumably there will be two more graduation ceremonies to come.