Friday, November 18th, 2016 07:57 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
It's a whole month (ish) since I last posted. I have nothing new to add to the fallout from the US Presidential elections except for the fact that when I woke up on the Wednesday morning it was from a dream that Hillary Clinton had won and was giving a press conference, accompanied by Chelsea, from a hotel's rose garden. In the UK us sensible chaps have been cheering on the various legal and parliamentary attempts to prevent the triggering of Article 50.

I had my first mince pie of the season today at work, and am part-way through Christmas shopping. I'm waiting to hear what my sister and her partner would like - Mum reckons they'll ask for giftcards or vouchers. It's four weeks until our Christmas lunch at work, too, which I'm looking forward to but am sad that one workfriend will be unable to join us.

I am continuing my cross-stitching in fits and starts. Wednesday evening's session was the first for a couple of weeks and at one point I used the wrong shade of dark green, but hopefully I've countered that by using another moderately dark green in another place.

Last week my long-anticipated copy of A Month In The Country arrived - I have it on the original issue DVD, but this is a much better quality picture and has audio commentary and a few interviews, including one with Colin Firth, as extras. It's a double-disc set that contains a DVD and a Blu-Ray disc and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


Saturday, October 15th, 2016 02:52 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
I am getting used to Autumn being a thing, now that it's in full force and the trees are looking so nice. But I still miss summer, and my new must-watch The Last Leg isn't really helping here, although I plan to keep watching - I think it's on until Christmas.

Am writing this part-way through my breakfast - woke up a bit later than usual and in the mood to get things done, so did my ironing, followed by handweights and then sorting the weeds along the side of the house. Remaining task for the day is to top up the queue on my Street View blog.

Work is going OK I think. Am getting involved in webinars - have done my first one as housekeeper but haven't listened back to it yet, my line manager (who was the presenter) made a comment that once I've done a few I won't be rustling papers so much, so while I'm pleased to get the first one done, I'm not looking forward to listening back to it. It was a bit nerve-wracking but I enjoyed it, I need to see when I can do another.

Fly The Flag

Sunday, June 19th, 2016 07:45 pm
tourmaline: (ISS)
So for Tim Peake's landing yesterday, there was no Stargazing Live special as so many of us had hoped. Instead, there was live coverage (mostly the NASA TV feed) on the BBC News channel, which had the usual experts (Libby Jackson from UKSA, Professor Lucie Green from UCL) along with BBC science correspondents who knew what they were talking about, and general studio presenters who didn't. So glad all went so well, there was a BBC guy who was practically interviewing Tim Peake on the Kazakh steppe. Yuri Malenchenko was sitting bolt upright early on like the seasoned space traveller he is, but Tim Kopra looked a bit wobbly for a while but he seemed to be getting his bearings OK eventually.

Having this on the news rather than a dedicated programme meant the news headlines ticker was on screen almost the whole time, so all the stuff about the man who murdered the MP Jo Cox was there. I can't believe what a nightmare that was. I've met a few people through work, my age and younger, and you know immediately they're a future MP for a left-leaning party, and they'll be a very good one, just like Jo Cox.

My friend and I took a little break from the usual work routine on Thursday morning to watch the Aviva Women's Tour go past along the main road near our business park. I had read about this early in the year, and my friend wanted a photo to illustrate a staff newsletter article she was writing about the Cycle To Work scheme. I took my flag and was cheering and yelling as they went past - it was still quite early in the race so they were all in a big bunch. Sadly we didn't get on the TV highlights, they went straight from the start in Atherstone to the part just after us when they went through the University of Warwick campus. But it was so exciting seeing all the build-up, the police motorbikes, the race marshal motorbikes, and the support cars going past, all waving at us, and us waving back. There wasn't many of us along that stretch of road, but there was lots of TV coverage of other stretches of road where there were lots of schoolkids cheering and waving flags. I was only going to watch the highlights once but I'm going to keep them now, as there are lots of sights I recognise, and I'll always remember being out there, even if it was only for a short time.

Last Of The Summer

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 09:31 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
So I was off work for eight days altogether to help out at Mum & Dad's, and came back to work on Monday.

More )

Meanwhile I am continuing to watch all my M*A*S*H DVDs and I have nearly finished my kingfisher cross-stitch. This will be followed by all the fuss of framing it and finding space on the wall for it. But then I can start the one my friends bought me for the birthday the year she was pregnant with their older son (he's 15 now).
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)
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.

May Day Weekend

Sunday, May 5th, 2013 08:10 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
May Day Weekend, and future weekends )
Hopefully I will report back again after tomorrow's outing, with photos. And possibly a short review of Hugh's episode of Perspectives.

While I'm 39

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 06:19 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
Today was my last day in work before I turn 40 (which happens tomorrow). I arrived to find my friends had decorated my desk:

Birthday Desk Decorations

I had to clear most of it so that I could work, there was also a banner across the bookcase near my desk and a long banner down the pillar by the bookcase. There was other decorating going on in the office too - a woman from another team goes on maternity leave tomorrow, and one of the directors is retiring tomorrow, so there were balloons in his office, and the walls were covered in a variety of photos of him from his 20ish years here. Also leaving tomorrow is one of my friends who has secured a permanent job following six years of temporary contracts (due to her working on time-limited projects rather than any aspersions on her awesomeness) at our place. She's having a night out in Birmingham with some current and former members of our team - unfortunately my birthday arrangements preclude me from joining them.

Tomorrow we are going out for lunch, having visitors (and no doubt phonecalls) in the afternoon & evening, and then Friday is my best friends' wedding. After some issues which pitted my ideal outfit against the weather, I finally found suitable shoes yesterday which will allow me to wear the new dress and jacket as originally planned, albeit with my big winter coat added for outdoor scenes. Weather-wise it's due to remain cold, but without additional snow of any capacity to cause concern. I shall report back here after the events.
tourmaline: (coffee)
Today is Red Nose Day, but I haven't been watching the Comic Relief TV show, just seeing bits & pieces of YouTubery and TV inserts and whatnot. I think I'm past the optimum age now, back in the early days it was the awesomest thing ever but it's a generational thing, I know many of my favourite comedians from back then are still heavily involved but it's no longer "the gang". I'm sure, though, it's someone else's gang, so I hope the younger generation derive as much awesomeness from it as I always did. Instead, I have been donating by texting and via a QI-associated webpage, which I believe is a subset of Sarah Millican's team.

I have also been baking - like lots of workplaces we had a bake-off and bake sale at work. It was won by someone who baked a chocolate and Guinness cake, but we were told by the judges that she won by a margin of 1 point and that there wasn't much more separating the rest of us. My cake was a variation on carrot cake, with pistachios and orange, and by the end of the bake sale there was just a quarter left. When buying, I chose a red velvet Whoopie pie and a sliver of a cherry chocolate cake with Cadburys fingers around the edge. There was a wide range of cakes - two cherry chocolate cakes of contrasting styles, but none of the rest were particularly similar to any other. Altogether (including the Keith Lemon sweepstake) we raised £250, which I thought was very good considering the office hasn't exactly been full recently. Most of the other cakes were red nose-themed - I claimed mine was the 'breather' in between all the bright colours - but I baked this because I really wanted to join in, I didn't want to be in the general audience thinking 'I could've made a cake'. I'm really glad I did.

I have been baking bread, too. After three attempts at making straightforward loaves in the breadmaker over the past few weeks, which was fine except for the hours spent cleaning, I found this Nigel Slater recipe for rosemary and honey bread in last Sunday's Observer and spent this evening baking, et voila:


They're still cooling, so too late to have any tonight, but should be good for breakfast tomorrow. And the baking process was much quicker and easier than using the breadmaker.

Bus Adventures

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 06:27 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
Due to weather uncertainties (ie how much snow would we get today), I didn't drive to work today. We had been forecast heavy snow, turning to sleet, all afternoon, and on our business park that can mean a two-hour wait to proceed to the end of a road which takes 10 minutes to walk down. So I decided I'd get the bus so I wouldn't have to worry about getting stuck - if the traffic did get bad, I could walk round to the main road and catch a bus from there. I'd had this plan for a couple of days, and was getting ridiculously over-enthusiastic about catching the bus again like old times - the first two years I was at this place, I had no choice about catching the bus as I couldn't drive at the time.

Dad gave me a lift into work, after asking several times if I'd like one, I eventually relented. During the afternoon lots of people were peering out of the window looking at the snow, while I was enjoying not having to worry about it. I'd packed my Olympics backpack instead of my usual bag, which doesn't stay on my shoulder if I'm wearing a heavy winter cardigan under my winter coat, so I'd be OK if I had to walk any distance. I was able to get my email newsletter off in good time and catch a bus just after 4.30pm. I'd seen a tweet at lunchtime from the bus company saying there was a software problem with some ticket machines on buses - there was one on the first bus I caught from the business park, the driver waved me through and I got a free ride! It's the first time in over 12 years I've caught a bus from the business park, and my first bus ride in that part of the city since the bus lanes were dedicated, so it was such a novelty being able to whizz past all the cars lined up on the busy commuter streets. I didn't have to wait long for my bus home from the city centre - which had a fully-working ticket machine - and was home just after 5.20pm, completing the journey in less than an hour. I also had my book Nella Last's War to read on the bus (the Mass Observation diaries that Victoria Wood based Housewife, 49 on) which is always absorbing.

The weather is due to be much warmer, with lots of rain again, tomorrow so I'll be back in my car. And I'm glad to say my car is fine after the recent drama, the problem with the gauge is apparently a known fault, according to a few websites, and can be caused or rectified with a jolt, which explains how mine happened. It doesn't explain how it was rectified, as it sorted itself out somehow while sitting in the car park at work.


Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 08:41 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
If you follow the news in the UK you may know about the chemical fire on a lorry on the M6 north of Coventry, which has buggered up the roads around Coventry and Warwickshire all day. Thankfully I was able to leave work at 4.20 this afternoon, despite problems with our website interfering with my e-newsletter editing, and I got home by 5pm with heavy traffic confined to a section of roads which are usually busy anyway.

The Great Loft Clearout Of 2012 has yielded up some surprises this week - three, in particular. Firstly a facial sauna, which my parents brought to torture me with during the worst of my years of woeful teenage skin issues, and secondly a steam iron, which Dad thinks he got from an end-of-line shop. And thirdly, a filter coffee maker, which was completely sealed, and for which we have absolutely no idea where or how we acquired it. Not wanting to pass up on a free coffee maker, I investigated it tonight and now have a half-drunk cup of filter coffee on the side table as a result. It's only a small model - four cups capacity, ie two full mugs - but it takes no longer than my little one-cup filter thing to make a cup of coffee. Judging by the pre-use washing, it's also easier to clean.

Also, I am claiming one 12.12.12 moment. This is due to the fact that in our house, when we start a new bottle or jar of sauce/salad dressing/relish, we write the date it was opened on the side, so we have some idea of how fresh (or not) it is without having to rely on how it smells. So this is from this evening:

tourmaline: (Paralympics)
We had a change to the routine at work this afternoon, as a bunch of us in my team attended a lecture given in memory of our late Chief Executive, who died a year ago. It was held at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and luckily a colleague volunteered to drive - as we ended up travelling through a few underpasses in Birmingham city centre and down Broad Street, I was quite relieved. The Botanical Gardens were very nice, although we didn't get to see a great deal, it was clear there's plenty to see on a more general visit.

The guest speaker was Karen Darke, winner of a silver medal at the Paralympics in the hand cycling time trial, and was fourth (fractionally behind team-mate Rachel Morris, they crossed the line joining hands & registered the same time) in the H1-3 road race. She talked about her life and career, about mountaineering both before and after she broke her spine, and about getting involved in paracycling and making the team for London 2012. While I didn't get to meet her properly (nor did I get to meet our late CEO's father or sister, nor some of the other people in attendance I would've liked to) I did see her Paralympic medal up close:

Karen Darke's Paralympic Silver Medal

It's very heavy! I guess for people like Sarah Storey who won several medals, all the training for their sport gives them the serious neck & shoulder muscles necessary to wear multiple medals at once for more than a minute.

After the talk, we all had tea and cakes (ie coffee, a little sandwich and two little cakes in my case). The plan is for this to be an annual lecture event, and in a bigger venue next year as there were lots of people who really wanted to attend but had prior arrangements. I think today it got off to an excellent start.

For The Win

Friday, July 27th, 2012 04:40 pm
tourmaline: (London 2012)
Seven years ago, when London was awarded the 2012 Olympics, we all had cake at work to celebrate. Today, we had a staff lunch and Olympics quiz to celebrate the opening of the 2012 Olympics.

The quiz was organised by our Events team, with teams named after past and present Olympians and team members assigned by a draw. I was in Team Jessica (named after Jessica Ennis), my fellow teammembers nominated me as captain. And we won! It's always assumed that I know everything about the Olympics - which is not true at all, I do know lots but there were more than a few questions I got wrong. But we did get lots right, and we did do OK in some of the Wii 100m rounds thanks to a teammate who gave some expert training advice. I also found out that this teammate's brother-in-law is a member of the wheelchair rugby team, & he was at the Paralympics closing ceremony in Beijing.

For winning, we were all awarded a Cadburys gold medal, and a little gift - mine was Olympics socks, others won giant pens with Union Jacks on them. We were all given the afternoon off (except the IT company who are spending the afternoon fiddling with the servers) so I made a stop at Sainsburys for pizza, J2O, and more Olympics souvenirs - a mug, more Cadburys, and two more Lego minifigures. I now have two tennis players (the Murray brothers), a 21st century Robin Hood, and a medallion man in his underpants in minifigures. I'm thinking after the Olympics I might give them to my sister so she can put them away for when my niece is old enough for minifigures.

Additionally, late last night I was retweeted by John Prescott! He was having one of his usual hashtag-linked twitterfests, this time at the expense of Mitt Romney. Romney is in the UK and will be attending the Opening Ceremony, which made me laugh having seen the content - specifically, something pertaining to the NHS & real nurses, as the news coverage has termed it so as not to give away spoilers. You can see the twitter conversation here, it's also by far the most retweets I've had. I feel like I've had a micro-second of being twitter-famous.

And, I repeat - the Opening Ceremony tonight - do not miss it. It will be absolutely stunning. It's so wonderful to see the coverage so far of the Olympics, and how upbeat almost everyone is, so glad the athletes are loving the Olympic Village and overseas visitors are having a good time. I hope the next sixteen days go well.

Home Made Cookies

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 10:36 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
I have spent part of this evening baking cookies - Peanut butter, pumpkin seed and chocolate chip cookies. I sampled one and it was very nice, even though I managed to pick the one without any chocolate chips in. Here are the rest:


The green tub is for us at home, the clear box is for taking into work tomorrow. We're big on baking in our team at work, I tend to average something home-baked about once a year but I saw this recipe in the paper at the weekend, and it looked straightforward enough for me to decide immediately that I would try it. I'm glad I did, if they go down well at work I might look around for another recipe to use up more of the baking ingredients I now have.

Almost Ready

Friday, December 23rd, 2011 05:43 pm
tourmaline: total solar eclipse, from a photo by NASA (Christmas)
I finished work today, all the presents are wrapped, and I'm almost ready for Christmas. The only things left are the little things to do tomorrow or early Sunday, such as sort out where presents need to go for their recipients, and to make some coleslaw. We have plenty of food in, including lots of buffet food (complete with Tex-Mex dips, yay) and lots of salad stuff. Also lots of cheese - I think we have twelve types of cheese including what's in the net of assorted little cheeses I bought on Monday.

I finished work around quarter past three, and I got home to see Mum & Dad looking out the patio window - with Bean! I've been thinking the past few days how much I'm looking forward to seeing her on Christmas Day, it was a nice surprise to see her today too. Bean's latest trick is to do a high-five, apparently something her Dad taught her to do. My sister had gone to Tescos, she said the queues were big but not horrendously so, and it was OK too in Boots and M&S - we're so lucky to have an M&S so close to us :) The roads going to and from work were OK, made a bit more challenging by the constant rain and greyness. No chance of seeing the ISS pass overhead for a while I think, but it's a nice change from the previous two Decembers and their bitterly cold heavy snowfalls.
tourmaline: (coffee)
First thing changing is the date for the extremely stressful database-and-website project at work, which is now launching in November because there's so much work to do beforehand. This means I won't be on leave when it all happens, and it suits me more because other crucial things will have been completed by then. It was set to start early October because some lunatic had the idea that people only go away on holiday in July and August. Thankfully it's been put back so hopefully this means we can get it to work properly.

There was a HUGE spider on the wall at work today :( :( :( It was right at the top, on the little inner wall that separates off the photocopier room from the main office. And we don't have a spider-catcher. I hope it's gone by tomorrow and doesn't return.

Am not at Zumba again, because I like how my knee doesn't hurt at all when I don't go. Still no news, according to her website, of my former yoga teacher finding a regular venue to restart kettle classes, I'd be interested in going to them so I can develop my technique properly. Her website right now is full of stuff about the Christmas party, cos she always holds it the first weekend in December to make sure it doesn't clash with anything else like family or work or neighbourhood Christmas happenings people may have, which is a good idea but I'm trying not to think about Christmas just yet.

Not thinking about Christmas is easier to do when you don't go into Boots or Marks & Spencer. Yesterday I went into both, they have Christmas stuff edging onto shelves but thankfully no Christmas catalogues yet. I really needed some new boots cos mine are wearing out, unfortunately Next don't have anything suitable for work so I went to the cheapo little shoe shop inside the main building and bought some boots with good cleated soles for £15. Even if I find something else that I wear more, these will be good for the snowy weather - they're warm too, a bit too warm today with the summer temperatures we've had.

Tomorrow I have sushi to make. Have decided to just make the one batch, it usually yields about 50-60 pieces which should be fine as it's all towards lunch. And I might not include carrot, which might be a first.

Summer Ending

Sunday, September 4th, 2011 05:54 pm
tourmaline: (coffee)
Not sure when autumn officially starts, but I think today is the last day of summer in a way. The schools start back tomorrow, which means I can no longer take the relaxed attitude towards getting up, getting ready and going out to work that I've had for the past few weeks. Pedestrians and traffic will be back in great numbers.

Also it's one week until my uncle arrives from Australia for a two-week visit. They'll all be decamping to Cornwall for a week during the visit, so I'll get the place to myself for a bit, but the visit itself was only sprung on me a week ago, I don't know how long it's been planned for. My concern is getting enough sleep during the weekdays my uncle is here - the neighbourhood dogs' recent tendencies to bark late into the night, coupled with my uncle's jetlagged early rising mean less hours for me to get a decent night's sleep. I hope both can be contained to a minimum.

Am hoping to take some time off while they're all away, but this month we have major changes at work and it's also blood donation time in a couple of weeks, so there's limited flexibility for taking time off. However, Fridays are more fully available again as we've had notice from our Yoga teacher that classes aren't going to restart after the summer break - not surprising, I think it was getting to a point where she wasn't making any money from us, too many people had dropped out for health reasons or long-term leave or had left the organisation. Her company's classes are generally held around my area, so I'm going to see what she has on and when. I'd like to go to Kettlebell classes, she used to teach them but had to find another venue, if they're back on again and not on a Wednesday I might sign up.

It's also definitely the end of Summer because the Autumn TV programming is starting up. This includes QI, which is back next Friday, despite the first episode having Lee Mack on the panel. Ugh, he is not funny at all. He's like the one in a new crowd of people you meet who thinks he's "the funny one" when actually he's just very annoying and totally unfunny.

British Bento Box

Monday, August 15th, 2011 08:11 pm
tourmaline: (strawberry shake)
My latest thing for food is a not-quite Bento box, ie a Sainsburys-bought lunchbox:

Explained in pictures )

I was inspired by this Flickr group, and while I don't have the official & expensive kit they have, there's lots of ideas there (Warning: looking through the photos at this group will make you hungry). I've already discovered that cheap supermarket fish fingers taste better cold the next day in salad, even though the breadcrumbs have mostly gone soft. I'm hoping this will keep lunch interesting, it's a struggle some times not to have the same stuff again and again.


Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 02:10 pm
tourmaline: (olympics)
It's only just-after-lunch on Day 3, but it's been three days of awesome significance and mixed emotions.

Compartmentalisation required )

So back home, I have a week off work to come so YAY. And Bean is here today, she's so happy, when she smiles she looks like my sister and I did when we were small. And I also have jellybeans so more yay.