Exhibition Visit

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 05:12 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
I took a day off work today, to visit the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in the centre of Coventry - it's currently hosting an exhibition on Children's Television.

More with pics )
The Children's TV exhibition is touring other places after it finishes at the Herbert in September. See it if you can.

Last Day In Space

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 07:34 pm
tourmaline: (ISS)
I can't believe Samantha Cristoforetti comes home from space tomorrow. She'll have been in space for 200 days, the longest mission by an ESA astronaut and by a woman, but sometimes it feels as if the time's gone so quickly, she's just got there. Her tweets today have been lots of last looks She's also a big sci-fi fan, here she is reading from The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy last month for Towel Day:



Safe journey home Samantha! Shortly before Christmas we'll see Tim Peake launch (according to current schedule), and I'm looking forward to all the media coverage.
tourmaline: (coffee)
Tonight we had a good evening out from work, and then I had things to do when I got back. Glad to be back, but the stuff to do was meh.
Full story )
It started snowing when I was driving home. Hopefully it won't amount to anything major, but it's supposed to stay cold for a good while yet. I'll be glad when winter is over.
tourmaline: (coffee)
Yesterday at work was relatively quiet so I was able to follow along with the whole of the launch window for Orion EFT1 on NASA TV. Today was one of the busiest I've known and I hardly saw a thing - no launch coverage whatsoever, a couple of news headlines, and a few tweets. It feels as if it didn't really happen today.

I've just seen a 13-minute video of the launch, but nothing of the landing & post-landing coverage yet. And the launch video started at T-10secs, none of the pre-launch stuff at all - I want everything from as far back as the go-no go poll at least. It's possible someone has tweeted about it but even my Essentials Twitter list is ridiculous today, it's impossible to follow.

In happier news, I've got all my Christmas tree decorations. I'm not putting the tree up until next weekend though, as this weekend will be a major laundry weekend and probably another visit to Mum & Dad as they have Jess overnight tomorrow, with a packed programme of activities. Also I need to learn how to use my TiVo or whatever it's called when it's on Virgin cable, as I saw a tweet from BBC1 the other day with a listing of Christmas Day's evening schedule and it looks like I'll need to catch up on Doctor Who at a later date. And I hope the finale of Miranda will be worth it.
tourmaline: total solar eclipse, from a photo by NASA (Christmas)
Apparently many people of my acquaintance haven't started their Christmas shopping yet. As per usual, I've got lots of mine done.

More )
I found out very late last night that Dr. John is at my local Arts Centre tomorrow night. They have a few seats left (at the back or extreme sides) but I've no-one to go with. Not sure any of my friends have heard of Dr. John :(
tourmaline: (coffee)
We've had two family gatherings of sorts today.

Furniture and Bonfire Night )

I've got more than half of my Christmas shopping done I reckon, tomorrow will be more shopping at a myriad of places in Birmingham - the Disney Store, the Christian bookshop, WHSmith - I'll probably get some Jellybeans but nothing from Hotel Chocolat - I love their stuff but it's expensive for what you get.

TV Trivia 3

Friday, October 10th, 2014 09:28 pm
tourmaline: (house & wilson)
Because I've been thinking about doing another one of these. See here for previous TV and Movie trivia things. Originally from [personal profile] karaokegal a few years ago.

1.) Look up ten of your favorite films/TV shows on IMDB.
2.) Go to "trivia" and pick out the most interesting fact about each film.
3.) Copy + paste!

Not all favourites, but ones I have seen recently-ish )
I hope you enjoyed :)
tourmaline: (coffee)
I have accomplished many grown-up things over the past week or so. Such as (in an entirely random order):

  • Banished Norton from my laptop as it kept blocking stuff from the Internet and wouldn't let me fix it. Begone!

  • Last weekend I assisted Dad in fixing the light and the plug socket in the shed. Tonight I mowed the lawn (delayed from Wednesday) with the lawnmower plugged into the socket in the shed

  • I have bought furniture! The sofa will be delivered "within eight weeks", the chairs I bought home today and assembled myself

  • I've also bought a Spiderman cup, plate and dish for my niece to use when she's here. Sssh, she doesn't know yet :)

  • I bought More Fool Me on Monday and read it all on Monday night. Good to read the full stories of a few anecdotes I last heard many years ago, and there are several photos of Hugh Laurie's eldest son as an adorable tiny tot. And I was honestly not aware that (cut for spoiler) ). I did know about Stephen Fry's drug use, it's funny how the Daily Mail are frothing about it now, I think back when it was first revealed they were still too preoccupied trying to work out how he could be both gay and celibate

  • I have become a good and diligent(ish) Doctor Who viewer. Still cannot see Peter Capaldi's Doctor and not think of House. And worked out that Mr Squaddie-turned-Teacher was Fingers in Gavin & Stacey

  • I have bought, and used, Pledge spray to clean my wood so that it is nice and shiny and woody

  • I have also researched for, and bought, a microwave oven. Used it once properly so far

  • The third househunter in our team and his partner now have the keys to their house. I'm really pleased that there were several of us moving house in the same season, the conversations have been fun. Consequently there are long discussions in our office about decorating, furniture etc alongside the usual conversations about work, Doctor Who, and Peppa Pig.

    And hurrah for new QI! First ep lineup looks good, second ep less so.
tourmaline: (strawberry shake)
From [personal profile] karaokegal

Rules: During the next five days, post three positive things about your day and ask three people to do the same so the positive attitude can gain some ground.

Not sure if I can do five days' worth, so one day at a time. And if you like the look of this meme, consider yourself asked to produce your own, if you wish.

1. It's raining, which we need, but it's not raining tons, which would be meh.
2. I'm getting lots of cross-stitching done these days, and I'm really enjoying it, and I haven't gone wrong on my current piece yet.
3. I'm rather relieved at Scotland voting No yesterday. I really didn't want our lovely Olympic and Paralympic teams to be divided, to say nothing for the wider potential political implications.
tourmaline: (Paralympics)
Kelly Gallagher wins alpine skiing gold

As the Paralympics began, I wondered if this time, we had a chance of winning our first ever Winter Paralympic gold medal. Today we did! Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans won gold, with Jade Etherington and Caroline Powell winning bronze to add to their downhill silver from Saturday.

Three days in, and Great Britain has already surpassed its overall medal target for the Sochi Paralympics. Our Curlers are doing well too, third on the table so far. Unfortunately Channel 4 aren't in the BBC's league when it comes to widespread coverage.

I had to buy a new mug today to replace my chipped one at work and in commemoration of today's historic sporting achievements I chose one with a Union Jack pattern.
tourmaline: (olympics)
Lizzy Yarnold wins Skeleton gold

So awesome! She won World Cup gold not long ago so was in great form to come into the Olympics with. And in four runs she broke the course record twice. Add in Jenny Jones' bronze medal in slopestyle from a few days ago - Britain's first Olympic medal on snow - and we're something like twelfth on the medal table. And it means that Team GB retains the women's skeleton gold, after Amy Williams (commentating for the BBC in Sochi) won it in Vancouver.

We have Jess overnight - she's just gone to bed - and she wasn't sure about the Winter Olympics at first but I explained that the Olympics isn't in our country (or even down the road) every time. Dad has got all the Lego we had as children out of the loft so we have been making Lego aeroplanes of various descriptions.

It's also thirty years today since Torvill and Dean won Ice Dance gold at Sarajevo:



They've recreated the routine for a special performance returning to Sarajevo and the now-rebuilt ice skating hall as part of an initiative to mark the 30th anniversary of the Games and to help re-establish Sarajevo as a home of winter sport.

A Christmas Toot

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 06:49 pm
tourmaline: total solar eclipse, from a photo by NASA (Christmas)
As I type, Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins are finishing up on their second EVA to replace a faulty pump unit on the ISS. Despite some drama earlier with a misbehaving connector, it sounds like it's turned out well in the end. I moved away from the coverage for a while earlier towards my recorders again, having gone back to them for the first time in ages last night after watching A Very CraftLass Christmas.

My recorder-playing break was mostly good, the only real problem I have is that my hands are too small for the Tenor. The Alto is just the right size, but there isn't much music written which doesn't dip below F. I know it's possible to transpose, and I did for a few things, but I prefer to play as is written rather than fall back into old habits. The Sopranino feels like a toy recorder (and sounds like one), and the Soprano makes me feel like I'm back at junior school.

To be honest, the feeling of being back at junior school isn't all bad. I enjoyed junior school a lot, and Christmas was the best part. There was a massive Christmas tree in the centre of the school - outside the hall, where the upper corridor met the main corridor. Each year our Christmas festivities would alternate between a Nativity play and a themed Christmas concert. During my third and fourth years, I was part of the recorder ensemble which played at the festivities. I think mostly we played the same songs each year, possibly in the fourth year (a concert on the theme of Christmas around the world) some of the songs were sung by the choir rather than by everyone.

Playing my recorders this evening, there are many Christmas carols and songs from back then that I don't currently have sheet music for. However, I found that I can still remember how to play some from all those years ago. I've also learned a brand new one - It Came Upon The Midnight Clear - which I've always liked, but we never sang it in school or church, and CraftLass sings it in her Christmas show. CraftLass and I had a long Twitter discussion last night about festive songs and religious denominations, and how these were influenced by the respective churches we were raised in as children. Please do listen to her show - it's 86 minutes long but you can listen while doing other stuff as it's all CraftLass playing guitar and singing, plus some talk between songs about the song's history or why they are meaningful.

It's likely I'll be Internetting for some of tomorrow as I don't expect things to properly get going in our house until people arrive in the afternoon. Have a happy Christmas everyone!
tourmaline: total solar eclipse, from a photo by NASA (Christmas)
Today was my last day in work until Monday 6th January, which will be the longest I've had away from work for a very long time. The day started early so I could get to Sainsburys before work. Going round the store wasn't a problem - it was really busy but as expected - it was the car park which was the issue, lots of people driving round looking for a space, or waiting for someone to leave. Eventually I got into work around the same time as usual, having originally left home about 7.45am. There wasn't a lot of work to do - a few tweets, a go at infographics which was only partially successful - basically I was in to drink coffee and eat Christmas sweets. I also bought a secondhand book - we have a bookshelf where we bring in unwanted books and sell them with the money going to a local hospice, and I bought the Cordon Bleu Cookery Book, which I'd had my eye on for some time.

It's been very windy and rainy here today, the worst was during the middle of the day I think - coming home, the weather was probably the nicest it's been all day. It's supposed to be the same again on Friday, but hopefully I won't have to venture out anywhere. I got plenty of veg today and also I have lots of pasta, the plan is to make another lot of pasta bake sometime. After last year, I'll be happy for none of us to fall ill.

My sister and niece are coming round tomorrow I think. Jess has been super-excited about Christmas - she was an angel in the pre-school Nativity, and they also had a carol service and Christmas party at pre-school. There was a raffle for parents & family at the party, and Mum & Dad won a tin of Quality Street, so we've got some of all the main Christmas sweets now - the main feature is Roses, I also bought small boxes of Celebrations and Heroes. They were here on Saturday, Jess was standing on her little step-stool in the middle of the living room, singing Christmas carols at the top of her voice. I showed her coverage of the EVA on my tablet - I pointed Doug Wheelock out to her, and that he knows who she is - this is following a Twitter conversation relating to three years on from his EVA and Jessica's birth, on the same day.

Tonight in celebration of the end of work, I replayed A Very CraftLass Christmas, which resulted in a long Twitter conversation between CraftLass and myself about Christmas carols and church denominations, and when the music ended I fished my tenor recorder out of the cupboard for the first time in a couple of years and tooted through a few Christmas carols. I really like it as an instrument but it was clearly made for people with longer fingers than I have.
tourmaline: total solar eclipse, from a photo by NASA (Christmas)
As I had a ton of annual leave to use up before March, I took a day off last Monday to visit Birmingham - specifically to visit the German Market and the Library of Birmingham. It was busy but not ridiculously so, I got a few things from the German Market and a few things elsewhere. I'm still waiting for one present to arrive from the US, but I've got a contingency present if it's not here in time. Everything else is wrapped, I've given out or posted my general Christmas cards and just have the cross-stitched cards for family and close friends left to write. I'll contact my friends next week to arrange to see them. Everything else left to arrange is largely food-related.

I finally got round to visiting the Library of Birmingham on Monday, it's fabulous - the fabric of the building is completely modern but it has a very traditional library feel. There seemed to be lots of space for serious studying, to the extent that some parts feel like a University library (except I didn't see anyone asleep). There were a few school parties there too, including one lot where all the kids were dressed as elves. There's plenty of great views to be had from the secret garden and the terrace, but it would benefit from some of those signs which tell you what you're looking at - I could see old, medium and new buildings, canals, and some hills in the distance (Staffordshire? No idea how far I could see) - they could then integrate it with their local studies collection or whatever they call it there.

I took lots of photos on my phone - here are some )

You can see the full set of photos here. I'd love to go back, armed with more knowledge of what the views are of.

Busy Today

Monday, October 14th, 2013 10:15 pm
tourmaline: (home-made bread)
Two things that coincided today - having the house to myself, and a team awayday at work which took place 10.30-3.30 - have ironically given me a super-busy day. But in a good way, as the awayday was really good so I didn't mind so much.

So, today's accomplishments, in ascending order: Laundry done (well, the second load is still in the dryer and it will be ironed tomorrow). Christmas cross-stitch cards mounted. And, pasta bake cooked and first portion eaten, the remainder is cooling in little freezable tubs.

The pasta bake had been the big thing, I'm not great at cooking, and last week my colleague had some reheated pasta bake for lunch which smelled so utterly delicious with all that melted cheese it gave me a headache, only cured by having strong cheddar on toast for dinner. But after consulting approximately 493802 online recipes I cobbled one together (needs refining next time) and tonight had my first home-made pasta bake. The refining I need to make is to let the veg simmer longer - the original recipe doesn't contain veg as such, so this didn't occur to me until I tucked in. I had planned to use up three lots of leftovers: tagliatelle (success), mushrooms (completely forgot about them), and breadcrumbs (don't even think of not topping a pasta bake with breadcrumbs, so delicious).

Hoping I don't have to stay up extra for the leftovers to cool down enough. I guess so long as it cools enough for the fridge tonight & I can freeze it in the morning that'll be OK. Need to check there's room in the freezer too.

So Far, So Good

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 08:15 pm
tourmaline: (home-made bread)
It's only Tuesday but I seem to have done quite well so far at spending money this week. It's stuff I need (really), and I've done OK in terms of bargain-hunting etc. The only negative in this was my trip to Hobbycraft and subsequent search online for card blanks for the cross-stitch cards I currently have in progress - I was hoping for red or green card blanks with large round apertures but have only been able to find white ones, and they're only just big enough. The tricky part will come when I have to wash & iron them without anyone noticing me taking over the kitchen for a big seekrit cunning plan.

So, the successes yesterday & today have been:

  • New trainers (even though they have pink trim), which means the old worn ones are now in the bin

  • A new watch strap

  • Pizza bases! Just scoffed the first home-made pizza, with rocket, mushrooms, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and two types of cheese. Way better than the ones they make up instore

  • Three pairs of little flower clips for my hair (black roses, cream roses, sunflowers) for an office-friendly trombone-less Elizabeth Lea look

  • Jellybeans, naturally

  • Hotel Chocolat selectors, including rose & lime creams

  • Marks & Spencer yummy food, including Macarons, which I've never had before

  • Two pairs of jeans - I have to go to M&S for jeans as only they & Next (sometimes) do them short & wide enough. Not a fan of the current trend towards lightweight denim & engineering though, when I first saw them in Sainsburys I thought they were just cheapo supermarket ones but it seems they're all like that now :(


Tomorrow we're picking Jessica up from nursery - she's now in the top age group, as it's the start of her final year at nursery. She now also goes to pre-school one morning a week at a nearby church hall - this is to give the kids more of an idea about what school will be like, and she's also there alongside other neighbourhood children, so when she starts school there will be children there she already knows. So I guess for now I'm making the most of these opportunities.

Week off

Saturday, September 14th, 2013 03:04 pm
tourmaline: (home-made bread)
Today is the first day of a week off work, assuming weekends count, which they do. No major plans yet apart from the usual visit to Birmingham, but hopefully I can incorporate a visit to the Library of Birmingham in my trip (so cool how it was on the front page of Wikipedia for so long). Today's loaf is partly made from polenta flour, and is in its second proving so I'll be downstairs soon to bake it. I made a beer bread loaf a couple of weeks ago which was excellent, but having discovered a bottle of beer (ie pale ale) is enough for two loaves, I might try baking double and freezing half next time. Having shared the leftover beer with Dad, I think I prefer beer to wine, though I'm pretty sure I prefer plain orange juice to both.

So happy for Tokyo in winning the 2020 Games, I hope they have as amazing a time as hosts as we did. Already there's talk of a South African bid for 2024. And I seem to follow more sportspeople on Twitter than space people, but it's awesome cos most of them are Team GB people or British sports associations, and it's great that sport never goes away - each weekend is the start, or the final, of a world-class event.

I saw some online TV coverage of the official meeting & greeting of the next Soyuz crew earlier, they launch in just over a week's time. I hope when it's Tim Peake's turn the BBC provide full coverage. It's an opportunity they cannot miss.

In the garden

Saturday, August 10th, 2013 05:25 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
Everything is growing well in the garden:

Untitled Untitled

Today is Mum & Dad's 45th wedding anniversary - I've bought them some flowers but they're mostly still in bud so will wait a few days before sharing a photo. I've also baked another quick loaf (mix, 5mins kneading, 1 hour proving in the tin, 35mins baking) with a change to my usual cycling helmet style scoring across the top:

Quick Loaf

It's still not quite fully cooled but was cool enough to sample a slice off the end, and it's totally delish.

And Mo Farah won 10,000m gold at the Worlds! Yay!!
tourmaline: (hugh laurie)
I'd spent most of the runup to last night thinking my tickets were for seats right at the side of the circle, when they were actually for the circly bit of the circle. Birmingham Symphony Hall is fantastic, it's big and intimate at the same time, but their online seating plan isn't great.

A fabulous evening of music )
It was a fabulous evening - also a first glimpse at the refurbed bits of Birmingham New Street Station, but with the old cruddy bits of platform still sadly evident - in contrast to BSH, they're cavernous and claustrophobic at the same time. We got the earliest of our possible trains home but got a slow ride thanks to a faulty signal. And I then had a succession of songs from the evening in my head, which hasn't finished yet.

Today was the day

Saturday, June 1st, 2013 09:47 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
I'm sorry I haven't been here squeeing about space stuff. But you know it's been awesome. Chris Hadfield went up to the ISS before Christmas as a regular Canadian astronaut, and came down a couple of weeks ago as a global superstar. And now, Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano are up there, and seem to be settling into life in space.

Today was the day of the Big Family Gathering )
I wasn't looking forward to today I must admit, but it did go really well. Now I'm 40 I think some people assume I'm too old to have children, so I don't get questioned about it. Which suits me just fine.