Friday, 25 May 2007

Fenrir Sleeps

Fenrir sleeps. The wolf has been bound by the gods and chained by men, to wait for Ragnarok.
Fenrir dreams. He dreams of freedom and destruction. He dreams of revenge against those who have imprisoned him.
Fenrir sleeps fitfully. He twitches under his chains of tar and padlocks of concrete. The world trembles with the power of the wolf waiting beneath the surface.
Fernrir sleeps and waits for the end of the world.

Friday, 18 May 2007

No more agents...

Ye Saga of the LSL agents is finally at an end - after a year of hassle living in a flat that was managed by them, and then three months of hassle trying to get my deposit back, I have finally got a cheque written to the correct person, and I will never have to deal with them again!

Had some Sloe Mead to celebrate...

Long weekend...

So - after a long weekend for the Bank Holiday, I have *another* long weekend, this time with Alice, Jell and the motley crew. Jell and Alice came over to mine at half past early on the Friday morning, and, after an interesting spatial awareness test of how to get two and a half sets of camping gear (they were lending me lots of stuff, so mine doesn't count as a full set. This time...) into a not very big car, we set off for the wilds of Wales, heading towards the Dan Yr Ogof Caves Campsite. As the weather forecast was interesting (rain, rain, and a bit more rain), the decision was taken not to do the original Friday walk, but to do a lovely waterfall walk instead (first 16 or so photos on the album...) The feeling of walking behind a waterfall has to be experienced to be believed - it is amazing. Rather sadly, we were told that there are plans to build a bridge in front of the waterfall and to stop people from walking behind it, as the overhang is starting to get dangerous.

Then on to the campsite - it had started to rain by this point, and putting up tents in the wet is not the most pleasant of experiences (I was wearing gloves, and, by the end, I could wring my fingers out...), but going to the pub afterwards was brilliant!

Next morning dawned bright and wet... The plan for the day was to walk up Black Mountain (the mountain directly behind the campsite) - however, the strength of the rain and icy wind meant that Alice, Paul and myself came back down about an hour into the walk, and opted for the much more comfortable passtime of sitting in a tent, drinking coffee, eating Paul's brownies, and listening to the rain outside... The rest of the walkers came back at varying intervals, all saying that the weather didn't get any better, which completely justified our decision :-)

The afternoon was a little bit brighter - not a huge amount of sun, but the rain did ease up, and we decided to go geo-caching for a multi-cache - this being where the references are given the one mini-cache, and the mini-cache then contains the clue to the full cache. The mini-cache in this case containing an acetate sheet which was designed to be overlaid onto a clue given in the original document - the two clues both containing seemingly random lines that would then make up the Geo-reference for the final cache. Brilliant idea. Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of printing, the scale of the printed clue and the acetate sheet were completely different, leading to an amusing 15-20 mins or so whilst Andy was used as a table to draw out the acetate clue onto the printed sheet... However, we got the co-ordinates, and found the second cache with little problem.

Saturday evening was a bit alcoholic... An amazing meal cooked by Peter and Franz (pasta, bacon and tomato sauce featured heavily), followed by two competitions, for the best gadget and the most useless gadget. Followed by wine, a description of how the sun can appear to go backwards when passing under the equator in a submarine, more wine, a discussion on double reed instruments, wine, a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy discussion, whisky, and a milky coffee (and I'm sure it was the coffee that lead to me being ill....) I poured myself into bed at half past one-ish...

Next morning, I might have still been a little drunk... However, judicious application of water, coffee, bacon sandwiches and a couple of ibuprofen meant that by mid-morning, I was feeling absolutely fine, and had managed to completely by-pass the hangover.

As it was still pishing it down (worse than Saturday), we decided to go into the Dan Yr Ogof caves. The caves site has the most amusing display of fiberglass dinosaurs - all built to scale, and with looped 'roaring' that could be heard from the campsite. The caves themselves were nice - some lovely effects done with lights and water, and it was an amusing way of spending a morning and early afternoon. (the red-light hyenas in the Bones Cave were particularly silly...)

After lunch, a group of us decided to go to the Welsh Indoor Climbing Centre. I was the only novice there - I had climbed a little at Warwick School, but not much more. However, everyone was very patient with me, showing me how everything was done, and even trusting me to Belay for them. It was great fun - I am still slightly hyper four days later! There is a brilliant physical challenge to climbing - and the routes that I chose, whilst nowhere near the hardest, were tough enough that I was stretching myself each time. This is definitely a hobby that I would like to continue with, although it might have to wait until the summer!

Sunday evening consisted of another pasta meal, this time cooked by Paul - equally delicious, though. I decided to save my liver this time, and opted for drinking water... It wasn't a late night, though - I was in bed by half 10.

Monday morning saw yet more rain, but nowhere near as heavy as the weekend. Jell woke us with coffee (life saver...), and Alice and I lay in sleeping bags listening to the sound of the rain and of people trying to pack up tents in the wet. About half an hour later, when the rain had stopped, we got up, and packed Alice's tent away in the dry (slight smug mode...) After clearing the camp site, we started driving home, but had enough time to head up Pen Y Fan via the easy route. Then back home, getting back to Bristol at about half past four - time to collapse!

And John was absolutely lovely and bought an Indian bring-in so that I didn't have to cook...

Many thanks have to go to Jell for organising the weekend, for lending me his thermarest, and for loaning me his spare climbing shoes - I will put them to good use! Also to Alice for letting me share her tent, loaning me her sleeping bag, for putting up with me for the weekend, and for loaning me her spare harness. And to everyone that cooked and washed up - I know that I didn't do my fare share of the work!

Photos are here

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Bank Holiday weekend

When the long weekend stretches in front of you, you envisage all of the things that you can get done with the extra 24 hours of freedom. The reality always seems to be that the extra time is spent in bed, or faffing, or generally just slobbing.

However, this Bank Holiday, we actually managed to fill it quite satisfactorily. On Friday night, I opened up our freezer and discovered that it was practically empty. Thus the decision was made to go to Farrington Farm Shop, where we get the majority of our meats. Normally we end up going completely overboard, the credit card takes a hammering, and I then spend half an hour whilst meat defrosts all over the kitchen floor trying to work out how to fit it all into the freezer. Not this time! We arrived at Farrington in time for lunch, had a glorious meal in their café (Enchiladas and tortillas – surprisingly filling, and a huge plate, with summer pudding to follow), and watched the clock tick round for an hour (the clock in the café is a cuckoo clock. With a cow instead of the cuckoo… We heard it go ‘Moo’ as we sat down, but missed the cow popping out. On the realisation that we had nearly been there an hour, we started obsessively watching the second hand tick round in order to be able to catch the elusive bovine! Rather bizarrely, it popped out with 20 seconds to go…) Completely stuffed, we then headed round the farm shop, where I discovered the bonus of investing £10 on my stomach – usually when I shop I am hungry and spend ages working out the exact meal that I’ll make with each piece of meat. This time, however, I was full, and even the thought of cooking made me feel slightly queasy! Net result – I spent approximately half what I would normally spend, and, when we got home, it all fit very snugly into the freezer.

Saturday evening was spent with the normal Who watching rituals. A surprisingly good episode, from what had looked like being filler material. A further introduction to Martha’s family (and the mother is irritating me already far more than Jackie ever did, which is saying something!) The monster was interesting – with more explicable pseudo-science than the Dalek episodes of the last couple of weeks – even if the conclusion seems to be that, had humanity gone down a different branch of evolution, we would have all been 10 ft high scorpions, with the ability to squeeze through 6ft high doors, to dislocate our jaws and to suck the life energy out of people… Mark Gatiss also reminds me far too much of Peter Davidson – not just the sweep of blond hair, but the raising of the eyebrows and the posture. Still – he did make an excellent villain. (although surprisingly bloodless – even if the monster had been killed from the fall from the belltower, it should have gone kersplat as it hit the floor…) Obviously, though, the most exciting thing was the post-episode trailer for the rest of the season – I was on the edge of my seat until I twigged that this wasn’t *just* going to be next week’s episode!

Sunday morning was spent getting up earlier than I should have to go to Bristol Southmead for my second attempt at platelet donation. Rather sadly, even with my platelet count being sky high, my veins just don’t seem to want to let them go. The needle goes in, the samples are taken off, and then, as soon as I’m connected to the machine, all the alarms go haywire. I just don’t seem to have the pressure to get the blood out (which is, on the one hand, a reassuring thing – at least I know that if I do cut myself, I should heal very quickly, but is also frustrating when I want to be able to donate). As this was the second time this has happened, the nurse stopped the attempt without too much digging around in my veins (so at least I’ve not got a mega bruise), and has put me back on the normal blood donation register.

So, back home earlier than expected, I did then spend a good chunk of Sunday afternoon slobbing and playing The Sims. I know I shouldn’t get so addicted to a computer game, but it is far too easy to let the hours slip away! I did, however, find the time to do the Sainsbury’s shop with John and to bake a quiche for Monday. And to head out to Tae-Kwon Do in the evening for the hour’s work out. We did a good session on the pads, which is a fantastic release of tension – my knuckles always come away red and a bit sore, but I thoroughly enjoy it.

And then… Monday… The day off…. In which we took a trip into the darkest wilds of Wales (ok – Cosmeston, just outside Cardiff and Penarth…). Sarah came up to ours, and we trundled off, following the AA directions (and, despite a query over exactly how long 2 miles was, they got us there very well). We did spend a short while doing a tour of the car park, as Karen and Dave had already arrived, and John wanted to park next to them – unfortunately, the car park was a one way system, so we circled all round their car, without actually being able to get to it! The weather was grey and grimbly – perfect conditions for giving the cloak that I had bought at Joust an airing… The medieval fair that we were going to was not very big (particularly in comparison to something like Joust), and the talks and demos weren’t particularly well announced (we missed the start of the ‘Medieval Surgery’ talk because we were waiting by the archery area (as stated in the leaflet), and it was actually round the corner. However, the battle was good fun – a bit more of a commentary would have been good for those of us who couldn’t see a huge amount. But the main reason for us going, was to meet Cherry of Shadowlight Designs, who is making my wedding dress for me. She has made up a ‘prototype’ in a cheap fabric, so that I could see what it would look like, how it would hang, and whether, after all of our discussions, what we were asking for was feasible! To say that I was pleased is an understatement. The Dress, despite being slightly large on the top (I’ve lost two inches since I was measured…) feels glorious to wear, and looks almost perfect. She’s had to make some slight adjustments (the original idea for the sleeves would have torn the fabric), and the top and arms need to be tightened a little, but otherwise, we are happy, and she is going to make the real thing, ready for me to try on at Joust.

So the next stage in the wedding saga is coming to a close – we are now heading into the final moments (the invites will be sent out in the next couple of weeks, we will be making the rings at the beginning of June, and then the slippery slope to the 1st Sept really begins!)

Alas – Monday came to an end all too soon, and now I’m back at work, having had an all afternoon Sales Meeting yesterday. Only a 3 day week for me, though, as on Friday, I’ll be heading back into Wales with this lot – John has declined to join me – camping isn’t really his thing! (I don’t actually know if it is my thing, either – I’ve had a few very bad camping experiences. Hopefully this will not be one of them!)

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Democratic rights

It is election day today – local and parish elections where we are. I’ve got a committee meeting this evening, and won’t be getting back before the polls close, so John and I got up at 6 this morning in order to be able to get over to the polling station (well, John got up at 6 to have a shower – I stayed in bed until 6.30 until my stomach decided that it was time for me to get up – having eaten very poorly yesterday, due to feeling queasy the whole time, my stomach finally told me enough was enough! That, coupled with not sleeping last night has left me brain dead at my desk…)

However, I did get to exercise my democratic right to spoil my ballot paper… I know that I should vote properly, but with only 2 parties to vote for in the Parish elections, neither of whom I could bring myself to support, I decided that the best thing to do was a none-of-the-above scribble through. I feel bad about doing it, though.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

First post

First post in a blog – I have finally succumbed to internet pressure and signed up…

The aim of this blog is not only a diary of my thoughts and ramblings, but also to try to get me writing again. I am finding that pressures on my time at home (and also, the lure of the Sims…) is stopping me from getting my arse in gear and writing. The idea is that in getting me to write something on a regular basis will start off a habit that will lead to me dusting off the novels that have been waiting to be finished for years…

The blog name comes from a quote:

“To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all.

Lord Byron