Archive for October, 2007


It’s my annual ‘competency’ assessment at work tomorrow. Please think happy thoughts for me. It’s one of life’s little annoyances that we just whinge, and whinge, and whinge about incessantly for at least two weeks before it actually happens. I think I’ve been particularly whingy this year.

The whole thing just feels a bit unfair. We have answer questions about all sorts of stuff, some of which we don’t encounter in our day to day work. (They try to make it ‘one size fits all’, which just isn’t the case.) The first stage which we’ve been doing gradually for the last month (or in my case – probably because I am not the greatest at time management – more or less just today) is doing CBTs (Computer Based Training module thingybobs). These involve reading background info and then completing a short test at the end – which is ‘open book’ so not too bad.  (However, invariably you spot some bits that are out of date, and so are confused whether you should answer that particular question in the out-of-date or up-to-date manner.)

The second bit – tomorrow – is a closed book assessment multiple choice assessment. I don’t know why it has to be closed book. That doesn’t reflect what we’d do in the actual workplace. I think it shows greater competence if you can demonstrate you can find out the answer correctly rather than just guessing if your not sure. It’s not even a ‘real exam’. It’s just what my workplace has decided it will do for it’s training and competency programme.

The other reason it feels unfair is that only some job roles have to do it. Why my job role has to, and someone about two metres away on the next bank of desk doesn’t, I have absolutely no idea. Your role has to have some sort of ‘quality control’ element and said people on the next bank of desks have that as far as I can see, but hey….what do I know?

The thing that winds us up the most is that managers are exempt. I’m sure this is the main reason why the whinging falls on deaf ears. Why you are suddenly automatically always competent without needing to refresh your knowledge every now and then when you are management grade beats me.

So….I have all these ‘facts’ rattling round my head at the moment. At lunchtime tomorrow I can hopefully forget the ones that don’t affect me for another year, but until then, all happy thoughts gratefully received.


Times they are a-changing

Well the clocks are anyway. This is my least favourite weekend of the year. We lose British Summer Time. I really don’t care about that extra hour in bed tomorrow morning. I’d rather keep the slightly longer evenings. 

I hate, hate, hate, hate, that until the end of March next year, I’ll be going home in darkness at the end of the working day. I can feel my heart sinking to the bottom of my feet already. I think it’s knowing that I’m trapped inside during the best bit of the day that tips me over the edge. It seems a waste! (Hmm….what am I saying there…!?!)

Perhaps I need to fly south for the winter. Dreams, dreams, dreams…

Couldn’t do much in the garden today. It was too damp, so I would have got a bit mucky and I just wasn’t in the mood for that. (I did fill the green bin with clippings from and overgrown ceanothus from the front garden – I’m starting to suspect that getting that ceanothus was a mistake. It’s got BIG far too quickly, and I have a nasty feeling that cutting it back will just encourage it to get BIG again as fast as it can…) As far as the back garden is concerned, the only thing I can really do at the moment is plant out bulbs, but they’ll just have to wait a bit.

Anyway, after filling the bin, I went for an exciting trip out to Homebase (loo-roll holder and soapdish) and Staples (box-file) and Currys (signal booster*). I ended up paying two visits to Currys because I couldn’t connect the damn signal booster. The cables didn’t seem to have the right ‘ends’. I confidently told the sales chappy that “I’m not thick with this sort of thing”. He obviously thought “Yes you are” and had to patiently explain about 20 times how the cables should slot together. (And there are only two.) Eventually the penny dropped and I realised I’d been trying to connect them back to front. So I slunk out of the shop feeling silly, took it back home and lo and behold the cables did actually have the right ‘ends’. So there you go, I am thick about these things occasionally.

I get to spend three and a half hours tomorrow afternoon in a smallish hall with about a million teenagers. Aren’t I lucky? (Well it feels like a million anyway.) I do the music for a kids drama group, and we’re about a month off a production, so it’s stepping up a gear. This means it will probably rain in the morning, and be lovely in the afternoon and I’ll be wistfully staring out of the window wishing I was outside doing something useful. (Don’t listen to me – I do enjoy it really. I’m just in a grump about the clocks changing.)

Ah well. Time to start changing all the clocks in the house before I go to bed I suppose….

* In my quest to solve the ‘why-can’t-I-get-all-the-freeview-channels-downstairs’ conundrum, I’ve been undertaking research and have discovered that digital freeview TV comes in ‘multiplexes’. There are 6 in the UK – 1, 2, A, B, C and D (no idea why it’s not 1-6) and each multiplex is responsible for transmitting several channels. It turned out that all the channels I couldn’t view were on multiplex D. I can get the said channels upstairs, so started wondering if a signal booster would do the trick. And yes it does. Go me! So now I can get Virgin1 and FilmFour. Spiffing. I hope I find something I want to watch on them now. 

Light Pottering

Woke up on Saturday morning feeling vaguely-sore-throaty and sort-of-earache-ish so I treated myself to a weekend of light pottering and general not doing much. The weather has been lovely though. Gorgeous blue skies, and they are not to be wasted (especially as we have just one week left before the clocks change), so I did spend a little bit of time outside.

Over the last week we have had one or two just-about-frosts (the sign of a chilly winter ahead perhaps?) and this has meant my summer bedding has more or less had it. I’ve really enjoyed my white geraniums/pelagoniums.


See – they were quite pretty weren’t they? Did you like the artistic blurry ‘bokeh’ I had a go at. Anyway, I remember my uncle telling me that they could survive a winter if they were tucked up safe and sound, so I dug them up, whipped them into pots and popped them into the greenhouse.


Look! Gone! Hmmm…. – that’s a boring picture isn’t it? And how long it is before that gets all weedy….


Et voila. Here they are settling into their new winter home. I must remember to pay them the odd visit every now and then to see how they’re getting on. I hope they last. I would be good to get two years out of them. I’m not sure if they’re geraniums or pelagoniums to be honest. Judging by the pictures in my books, I’m leaning towards pelagoniums, although they get labelled geraniums, but answers on a post-card if you know otherwise. Or leave me a comment below.

I also managed to potter a whole 6 (count ’em) baby hellebores into the ground. I’ve taken a bit of a fancy to them and in the interests of having more perennial things in the garden I’ve now acquired an unlucky sounding thirteen of them and dotted around in what I hope is a natural-looking random manner, but which most likely just looks like someone trying to be naturally random. I know they should look pretty in the spring, and I’m hoping they’ll make good greenery in the summer as well. I’ll just have to wait and see I suppose. I would show you a picture, but I don’t appear to have one. Ah well never mind.

Other achievements? Hmmm… Well…. only of the non-gardening variety. 

The first one is actually a non-achievement. I spent a large part of today failing to persuade the downstairs freeview thing to pick up Film4 and the new Virgin1 channel.  It steadfastly refuses to. It does now pick up the wonderfully-named Channel Dave. Yes, that’s right: Channel Dave. Someone decided it would be a fantastic idea to call a TV Channel Dave. Go here if you don’t believe me.  Dave did actually come in handy because they’ve been doing back to back episodes of QI this weekend which happens to be something I am quite partial to and there’s not much else on. 

My other achievement was to make a horribly significant looking dent in one of the bags of ‘fun-size’ Aeros I’d bought (in a highly organised fashion) ready for Hallowe’en. Oops.

Anyway, I’m still vaguely-sore-throaty and sort-of-earache-ish so I’m going to wobble off to bed. Sleep tight all.

Bit thirsty

I was a little bit thirsty this evening so I treated myself to one of these:


Mmmmm tasty…..

Tastes even better when it’s served in a bar on Sunset Boulevard though.

*reflects wistfully*

Quick round-up

I think I may have finished the bulk of the ‘hard-stuff’ in the garden (although compared with what lots of other people are doing, it wasn’t particularly hard really). Actually, I think I finished that last weekend. I know going forward, there’s always going to be something that will need doing (which is good because I enjoy it), but it’s weird to think that the ‘design’ that I’ve had brewing in my head for the past few years is actually out there. And what’s more – I think it looks okay!

I’m looking forward to watching the plants I’ve chosen start maturing a bit. Everything looks a bit ‘wee’ at the moment. (Bless.) I have all my fingers and toes crossed that I’ve chosen some nice things that will  good and compliment (or is it complement?) each other, and that I won’t want to rip everything out in disgust. There’s bound to be a few mistakes though.

I’m also looking forward to perhaps being able to relax a bit more outside next year (assuming we don’t have the noah-esque rain again) and actually being able to look at the plants rather than being up to my elbows in weeds, stones and other assorted stuff. 

There are still a few things to finish off: about 1/3 of the lawn to replace,  some trellis to go up to disguise the greenhouse (and then some plants to disguise the trellis), stone pile to get rid of etc.  But other than that, going forward, I hope the jobs will be more or less of the regular maintenance variety. I also seem to have about a million bulbs to plant:

Blog pic

I’ve been accumulating them over the year, and until I piled them all out together I didn’t realise I’d got as much as I had. I have a thing about alliums though. I’ve always wanted some of those ‘pom-pom-y’ ones, and it seems I’ve got plenty now. I just have to think where I actually want the things now! Howabout in front of the not quite up yet trellis?

Flat-pack Challenge

I love a good flat-pack and a recent trip to IKEA proved the excellent opportunity. I think you’ll agree that this is pretty flat:

I am the queen of the flat-pack No 1.

(In best Rolf Harris accent:) Can you tell what it is yet?

I am the queen of the flat-pack No 2.

I never understand those people who say they can’t do it. If you look at the instructions, identify which piece is what, then follow the assembly bit in the right order then what is there to go wrong?

I am the queen of the flat-pack No 3.

Wrong you say? Well Nez – howabout being so flat-pack cocky that you don’t notice you’ve fixed in that shelf upside down until the point you finish assembling the whole thing and have put the screwdriver away.

fI am the queen of the flat-pack No 1.

Yep…still hadn’t noticed at this point. There was a ‘right’ side and a ‘wrong’ side, and of course to get to it, the whole thing had to be taken apart. Ah well – I think it was worth it and at least there was no nails or glue involved because that would have been severely annoying. I like it anyway. I’ve wanted a TV unit for about 10 years, but I’ve never been able to find one that I both like and actually fits in that space which is deceptively not as wide as I think.

I am the queen of the flat-pack No 5.

Now I want to move that radiator though. And get bookshelves that match, and heck – while I’m at it, howabout a whole new extension to the living room? (And all sorts of other things that will eat up all my pennies!)

Lego Matrix Reloaded

As some of you might know, I have a bit of a thing for Keanu Reeves. This thing developed as a result of the Matrix series – no-one can wear black quite like Keanu. *blushes a little* Anyway, I stumbled upon this lego ‘homage’ to The Matrix Reloaded, and since I giggled my way through it, I thought it was worthy of a little post.

It must have taken them blinkin’ ages, and it’s so spot on. It follows the scene from the actual film perfectly – right down to the tiny details like the “tomato”. I know it will probably most amusing to Matrix fans, but if you enjoy it a quarter as much as I did it will be worth it. 🙂

Created by this guy:


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