Archive for March, 2008

Spring is in the air… tra-la-la

Our clocks changed to British Summer Time today, and  to celebrate , we actually had a pretty nice sunshine-y sort of day. Just one rain-shower, that was it. Most of the time the sky looked like this:

I heart fluffy white clouds

That is my favourite sort of sky. Those clouds are HUGE. Like a giant bubble bath. It’s amazing really. Mother Nature can be so beautiful when she wants to be. And I always go soppy for that kind of blue. Much, MUCH nicer than yesterday’s grey clouds.

Things are starting to wake up. I really like it when that starts being evident. The first thing in my garden that starts looking pretty is the Aubreita, and I know this will be swiftly followed by my Forsythia bushes (there’s definitely some yellow on them now). It’s also nice that I was able to just have a look around today, rather than busting a gut doing some horrible heavy (for me) task.

Today’s sunshine definitely looked good against the Aubreita. Please compare and contrast the following two photos. The first is taken on my new Canon digital point and shoot. I like that I can get up quite close.

Bit more Aubreita

The second is on the Nikon DSLR. I can’t go quite as close with the lenses I have, but I much prefer the how colours have come out – much truer to life.

Aubreita

I’m definitely going to have to invest in a Macro lens at some point!

Anyway – that’s all for today. Nothing earth-shattering, but I have a headache at the moment. 🙂

This time next week…

…I will hopefully be on a plane somewhere between Newark,  New Jersey and Los Angeles, California.

I am a little excited.

A couple of years ago, I discovered you can track flights via a site called www.flightview.com. I have been tracking what will be “my flight” from Birmingham to Newark religiously for, oooooooh, at least two months every day at work. It’s quite good becuase the flight lasts more or less the whole working day, so it’s an indication of how long I have to stay at my desk before I can escape.

I think I can almost start packing. 🙂

The English girl who went up a pile of rubbish and came down a patio

Sorry about the long title, but I’ve been dying to write it since I first thought of it. 🙂

I’ve spent the last two days putting what felt at times like a never ending mountain of old turf, stones, soil, stones and rubble into two skips. This is what I started with:

Before

Yesterday was possibly the most unpleasant garden-related day I’ve ever experienced. I was constantly buffeted by winds, rained on, snowed on, hailed on, sleeted on, etc ,etc. There was a teeny tiny bit of sunshine too, but not really enough to count. (Naturally the driest, sunniest part of the day was when I was inside having lunch.) At one point I was hailed on non-stop for about half an hour. Not huge hailstones (we don’t often get really big ones here in the UK), and it wasn’t pummelling me exactly but, combined with gusty winds that refused to let me keep my hood up, it felt like an extremely long time. Example hail:

Prevailing weather conditions

I should also mention that I don’t have a wheelbarrow, so I was carrying all this to the skip in a green plastic tub. Bear in mind I’m not quite 5ft1 and weigh 7.25st (about 101 pounds or 46 kilos according to google) so there is a severe limit to how much I can carry in said tub without causing myself a mischief (4 spade fulls maximum). It’s a shame I don’t have a pedometer. I’m quite interested in how many miles I’ve walked back and forth to the damn skip.  (Anyway – the green tub was fantastic.  It’s one of these. It’s my new best friend. I genuinely couldn’t have managed with out it. They’re described as “the world’s most useful tub” and as far as I’m concerned it’s true.)

At times I could have cried and I was so cold my hands hurt, but I can be very determined when I want to be, so stamina kept me going. This is what I’d achieved by the end of yesterday:

During

Somehow there was an awful lot of soil. At one point I was actually sieving bits of it out to put back on the garden – this is what the smaller pile at the front is. I’m unsure quite how there was so much soil since I distinctlyremember sieving it off (somewhat anally) last year before I put it on the damn pile in the first place.

At the end of day one I rang the skip hire place and ordered skip two. Skip one wasn’t exactly full but I was worried it would be too heavy to lift because all the turf and soil was sopping wet and therefore heavier. I did fill it up a bit more this morning with lavender bushes I am replacing from the front garden. (It was a ‘hedge’ that separated me from next door, but my neighbours aren’t keen it.) It was very windy again and I found myself occasionally chasing damn lavender branches around the garden. Smelt nice though. 🙂

Skip two arrived at eleven and was promptly filled with the rest of the lavender bushes. After a quick pit stop for lunch it was back to the stone pile which gradually covered the lavender. (Quite handy really – no chance of it blowing out of the skip. 🙂 ) Fortunately the weather was much more pleasant today (I was only snowed on twice) and eventually – just at the point when I was beginning to think it would never happen – I made it to the end of the stones:

After

(I couldn’t manage not to get a sun-streak on the photo no matter how much I crouched down, but I’ve decided it’s quite fitting since it highlights where the stone pile ended. 🙂 )

I almost danced with joy. Almost. But instead I went to dig up the lavender stumps before all energy left my body. Surprisingly, that didn’t quite finish me off, so I turned my attention to a job that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. When I re-turfed the first bit of lawn last year, there was one small spot I didn’t do very well and it’s got a distinct ‘hollow’ when you walk or try to mow it. It needs to come up be re-levelled and put back.

I tried. Honestly I did, but I made a complete hash of it, which was a bit annoying at the end of an otherwise successful day. The turf was just too damn heavy for poor ickle me to lift and put back without breaking. In the end I just took the whole section up in – it’s not that much – and I’ll re-turf it next month.  (Mr Hedgewizard sir – if you read this – I promise I AM saving and composting that bit since it’s all nice and non-weedy.)

Anyway, the turf disaster finished me off. I ache everywhere now. But it’s a good ache.

 Wow…this is a long post. Thank you and “well done” if you make it this far!

Mysteries of Life

The following things are always a mystery to me:

  • Why, when I’ve done my food shopping at the same supermarket for years, the person in front of me at the checkout always has a trolley full of stuff I’ve never EVER seen before.
  • Why BMW drivers never, EVER use their indicators. Especially on roundabouts.
  • Why electrical cable of any sort self-tangles no matter how carefully you store it.
  • Why you start going to bed at 10.20 and finally climb under the sheets at 11.45. How does this happen? Where does that hour and 25 minutes go?
  • Why, when I’m driving and there’s suddenly a fairly narrow gap for two cars to pass in, I will breathe in and lean away from the other car as if somehow that will make my car smaller.
  • Similarly – why do I sometimes duck for branches while I’m in the car.

Do other people experience these phenomena or is it just me?

Not impressed

You may know I’m not having a good time at work lately – not that I’m implying I go to work to mess around or anything. I’m being forced (with a shoe horn more or less) into doing a different role, and I’m not happy about it. I’m just not interested in the role in question. Today I was told my manager said I could revert back to the previous role only I’d have to be downgraded.

I don’t think so thank you very much. Not when the whole point of originally upgrading me back in 2006 was in recognition that by then I’d been doing the job at a higher grade level for at least a couple of years.

(The message was delivered via my sort of team leader. I say “sort of” because someone else is sort of going to become my team leader at some vaguely specified moment in time. We’re a bit all over the place at the moment. Clear as mud and all that. It’s great for morale.)

So today was not the greatest day at the office I’ve ever had.

I’ve been doing a web design evening class with a view to maybe just completely changing my “career path” altogether. Actually I’ve been doing two courses this term (the other being Digital Photography) and it’s quite tiring. I’m going on to do another Digital Photography course next term. Now I’m considering about doing the next Web Design one as well. 

I’ve already paid for the Digital Photography one so I’m committed to that now. However, if I don’t sign up for the next level web design one, they don’t run it again until the summer term 2009. Decisions, decisions. I’m all in a muddle in my head.

Serious thinking to be done….

(Incidentally, all issues with the digital photography portfolio of 12 photos that I was previously ‘stressing’ about have now been cleared up. A contact sheet for each photo is not required after all. I’m abandoning the film titles idea and going for a different personal theme of ‘body parts’ instead. Before you think naughty thoughts I’m meaning hands, feet etc. Then I’m going to do ‘Buildings and Statues’ for the other theme – with people of course. This will hopefully be done largely while I’m on holiday in April. I’m off to LA again. Unless I was hallucinating the last three times, they definitely have buildings there. I am also holidaying with people which helps.)

Operation Returf

I took UHDD’s advice and had a dig in the garden this afternoon. It did me good I’m sure of it. I’ve been feeling really anxious-y about this, that and the other lately. (I tend to get like that occasionally) but I seem to have dug it out of my system which is really good.

The digging was part of Operation Returf. I ripped up the last peice of old turf a couple of weeks ago now, but it needs a good dig over to get rid of weeds, roots, stones etc. I also need to make sure it’s all levelled out. My deadline for debris removal is the Easter weekend because I have booked a skip for then and the intention is to get rid of my stone pile into it. I absolutely cannot wait to say ‘sayonara’ to the stone pile.

Managed to have a fairly good dig over this afternoon, although I didn’t get through it all.  Assuming the weather is dry(ish) next weekend, I’ll be fine though. I’m not looking forward to lugging all those stones away though. My legs ache just thinking about it. (Actually….they’re probably aching from the digging, but you know what I mean.)

Here’s four rather boring photos showing my progress. Sorry about the colours on the last one. It was pretty much dusk, so I was having a play with ‘levels’ on photoshop, except I don’t really know how to best use them yet.

Operation returf Operation returf
Operation returf Operation returf

Catarrh

I’m only calling this post Catarrh because for some strange reason (according to my wordpress dashboard) it is the search term seems to get this blog the most hits and I can’t think of anything else to call it. (Perhaps it’s indicative of what people think of me?!)

Well… just thought I’d do a quick post to say how I haven’t really done anything worth posting about lately. I’ve been trying to keep on top of the photography thing. I still haven’t had the thunderbolt of inspiration required for my ‘portfolio’ but I haven’t actually had time to sit down and think about it either.

I think I have got my photography workbook just about up to date though which is a good job jobbed. That’s the writing up about things like exposure value, aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc. It took me longer than I thought though. I have a habit of over-agonising about things, so much re-drafting and abuse of the delete key went on. 

I really must try and get my inspiration this weekend though.

*sighs*

(Amusingly, I just ran the spellcheck on this and the two words it didn’t recognise were ‘wordpress’ and ‘blog’….!)

(ROFL… I just re-ran it and it doesn’t like ‘spellcheck’ either. Really!)