Best of luck!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Best of luck!
I hope to be here more often in 2010.
Friday, December 04, 2009
In addition to training, would government provide an adequate and reliable broadband service, buy computers for all those who don’t have them, pay for their ISP and security subscriptions, and for printers and the peripherals. My guess is that, like me, many older users would be confused and daunted by online billing, form filling etc, and would want to print everything off. Indeed, I think many people would be panicked by the mere idea of it.
It doesn’t sound like a nanny state to me (as Ms Fox suggested it might), it sounds like a big bully state. Government has a duty to provide the services that people need, not to coerce them into using services they do not want. For goodness sake, at least where the retired are concerned, leave us in peace to embrace such technologies as, individually, we feel able for and are comfortable with. If some of us feel that a computer would be an alien and unfriendly presence in our lives, we are entitled to be allowed to live without them. When our generation has gone, and those who remain have all been familiar with computers from childhood, perhaps that will be the time for Martha Lane Fox to wield her stick.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
When I agreed to lead a group to set up a new website, I set up a special mailbox in which I keep all email correspondence about the website. At this very moment I have noticed that, since the first mail in January asking me if I would take it on, there have been 1000 emails passing into and out of my computer on this topic. Did I say busy?!
Somebody else must be writing my blog. I have absolutely no recollection of actually writing the last three. I remember thinking about them - thinking that I must get on and write them before they get out of date....... Oh well, at least that makes it easier for me to pick up now, since I don't have to start at the beginning again.
First, an up-date on scones. By about the fourth attempt I had achieved something quite acceptable with butter and jam, and my grandson actually asked for a second one. At the sixth attempt, my first one with fruit scones, I reckoned I could now call myself a scone maker. The trouble is that every recipe makes about 12-15 scones, and I eat most of them myself! Perhaps I shall be brave enough soon to offer some at the Women's Institute stall on Fridays.
Art is exhausting
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I have no special angle on climate change. Like most people, I suppose, I believe in global warming, because the evidence seems undeniable. My own experience tells me that the weather is changing for the worse - but don't we always think that? I checked in on the Blog Action Day website and had a look at the Top 100 effects of global warming. Alright, most of them are quoted from newspapers and newscasts, and may not yet be fully attested scientifically - but can we afford to disbelieve them? Many of them are long-term effects which I am unlikely to see:
Ice melting, waters rising, sunamis and hurricanes, rivers drying up, more fires.
Loss of trees, plants, animals and fish. An increase in noxious plants and insects.
More diseases spreading, people getting sicker.
Increased threats to national security due to migrations, boundary tensions, and conflict over food and water. More wars, more refugees.
I think of my grandchildren. I think of those two girls and four boys, aged between 8 and 17, to whose flesh and blood I have contributed through my own sons; who bear my DNA, and will inherit, to greater or lesser degree, the physical and mental characteristics that I have passed on to them. They are my legacy to the world that I must leave, they are my immortality. But what sort of world will there be for them to inherit? Will it be a world that is still full of natural wonders, magnificent resources, beautiful habitats for man and beast a like. Will it still be possible to live full and satisfying lives, lives of invention, service, caring, and creativity? Or will the basic struggle for survival take all their energies. There are enough suffering peoples in the world already leading such lives. My family has been fortunate ...... will it continue to be through all the generations that will follow me?
From The Aga Recipe Book for 2 oven Aga Cookers [no publication date but purchased in 1960]
IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN MAKING SCONES
1. If the basic proportions are correct they can be varied in many different ways
- see suggestions.
2. It is most essential to be accurate with proportions, e.g. too much soda will ruin
3. Whereas yeast mixtures are kept warm, scones etc. made with other raising
agents should be kept as cool as possible. The cold air expands with the heat
and so helps to make the scones lighter.
4. The best utensil for mixing scones is a round-bladed knife; it gets well down to
to the bottom of bowl and can be used for mixing without pressing on the
5. The most important rule is to add all the liquid at once and mix lightly to a spongy
6. The scones should be handled as little and as lightly as possible.
7. Scones should be cooked quickly - 10 minutes in a hot oven for small scones
and 15 minutes for a round of 4 or 6.
8. Cool oven scones on a cooling tray to keep the outside crisp. Girdle scones are
best cooled in a tea towel to keep the skin soft.
NOTE: From Experiment it has been found that better results are obtained if the scones are allowed to stand (after cutting out) for 10 minutes before cooking. This applies to scones raised with bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Friday, October 02, 2009
I was so absorbed in what I was doing on the computer today, that I nearly made a cup of 'tea' out of a sachet of laxative powder, instead of a teabag! Oh my! what on earth could I have been doing that would distract me to that pitch? Well, I have been playing with colours.
I wrote recently about the website that I am involved with setting up for Growing Old Disgracefully, my crones' network. A couple of weeks ago we met with the designers for the first time. I had to go up to Manchester, where they are based, and we had an intensive three-hour session, my colleague and I struggling to understand their web-speak and to explain our requirements in our own non-tech language.
Since then I have been thinking about colour schemes for the website, and playing around with colours, trying to learn how they are created on line, and how they are numbered, and what looks good on a website. I've also been creating my own colours in paint and trying to match them to printed colours that I like. I have printed off endless sheets of paper with samples on like these, but it all seems too complex to understand. We'll see what the designers come up with.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I promised to write here about what had been keeping me away from blogging for a good while before I went away. I write often about Growing Old Disgracefully, the network for older women to which I belong, and it is working on a job for them that has kept me busy.
We used to have a website for a number of years, a simple brochure on line set up by one of our members, but we ran into problems and a year ago it was closed down permanently by the host. In discussions with the members about setting it up again a lot of interest was shown in enlarging it to include a 'members only' section, in which news and events and reports could be posted.
This would be a much bigger undertaking than before and not all were agreed upon its desirability. In the twenty years since it began, the organisation has only slowly become computer-literate. I believe I was the first to publish my email address in the newsletter in 1999, and now, ten years later, we still have only 50% of our membership on the internet. But there was a strong urge to bring ourselves up-to-date in the world of the web, and a sum of money was voted to allow us to employ professional designers for the job.
A small working group was set up in the spring to explore the possibilities, to establish our requirements, and to approach a number of designers and commission one of them to do the work. Through unforseen circumstances a group which should have been 4 was whittled down to two, of whom I was one. And so began a very sharp learning curve for the two of us, both of us fairly competent computer users, but having no notion about how websites are built. We asked for help wherever we could, and there has been a constant stream of emails - she lives in Oldham and I live in Hertfordshire. We only met once to get to know each other, and to lay out our ideas of what was needed, and how we should go about it.
The next time we met was three weeks ago in Harrogate, when we were able to report to the Annual Business Meeting that we had commissioned the designers - (appropriately a firm of women website designers) - who had set up a temporary holding page for us with contact details, so that Growing Old Disgracefully is once more on the worldwide web. They began work with us straight away on the main website, and on Wednesday next the two of us are having a project meeting with them in Manchester, to firm up the structure of the new website and a whole lot of other matters that need dealing with - more than I could possibly have imagined at the start!
The learning process still goes on, of course, and I find I have to keep very focussed in order not to lose my way. It is really hard work, and there are times when I feel it is making demands on my stamina (physical and mental) which I am barely able to meet. But it is fascinating, and creative in a way that I enjoy, and my colleague and I work very comfortably together. But I do wish at times that we were a business in an office, and not a nationwide organisation in which we all work from home!
Ah yes, "talking of beautiful young men...."
In Betty's one of the waiters was an exquisite child of no more than 14 or 15 I would say; straight and supple and blond and perfect of feature, he seemed to carry himself like a ballet dancer -calm, poised, never ruffled. I could not stop watching him.
Indeed, I could almost have wished to be Oscar Wilde.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
The reason I have not jumped into print here immediately on my return from Harrogate, is that I managed to do something so perversely idiotic that I was pretty much prostrate for nearly a week after getting home.
Our Growing Old Disgracefully annual get-togethers are so arranged as to give us at least one free afternoon for sightseeing, talking or sleeping, according to need or desire. It has long been my ambition to visit the famous Betty's Tearooms in Harrogate (they don't use an apostrophe but I insist on doing so). This free afternoon was a good half way through when I broke away from a small group of Disgracefuls who were sharing scurrilous anecdote and laughter in a comfortable armchair huddle in the lounge. If I didn't go now, I would never get to Betty's. I had been told it was 15 minutes walk - no trouble at all - although at the back of my mind was a feeling that I had passed it on the top of a hill on my way in to the town the day before.
I set off down the hill and soon realised that the further I went down, the further I would have to go up again, before I would reach the tea rooms, which were not yet in sight. Now I have not walked up steep hills for several years, as I get puffed, and my heart is no longer gets the blood supply I was given at birth. I knew, but refused to accept, that the hill was too steep for me. I was going to Betty's. I had not done any sightseeing at these events for several years, and this time I was going to.
Before starting up the hill, I took a couple of prophylactic puffs on my GTNT spray, which helps the heart to keep going if it is struggling somewhat. I stopped several times on the way up, and finally saw that I was reaching the queue which seems to form outside the Tea Rooms most days, so great a demand is there for tables. As I took my place I quickly realised that I would very likely fall down if I didn't sit down soon. When the Table Manager/Hostess person next came out, I explained that I thought I ought to sit down rather quickly, and after taking a look at me she kindly found me a table at once.
I sat drinking a pot of tea for the next hour until I felt strong enough to ask for a taxi to be ordered to take me back to the hotel. This they were happy to do, and also offered me the use of the disabled access toilet on the ground floor. This was a magnificent apartment in heavy oak panelling to match the rest of the decor, but provided with the latest fittings and and automatically sliding door.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Who amongst my readers is old enough to remember polyphotos? They were taken by a live photographer, not in a booth, and you got 48 different shots. This gave you plenty of choice for making enlargements, or if you were mean you just cut out one of the small ones (about an inch and a half square), These were taken in 1946 when I was 19.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Last November I wrote about Christmas catalogue shopping, and posted this picture of actor Sacha Baron Cohen, not so much in admiration as in astonishment that anyone should want to either buy or wear such a thing. In fact I found the picture so lacking in appeal that I nearly withdrew the post. But I'm glad I didn't. I did comment though that the garment did not look very secure, and I wondered if the shoulder straps went down the back to a sort of g-string between the legs. Well, this morning I found out. It isn't; and they do!
One of the 'plinthers' doing his hour-long stint as a live statue in Trafalgar Square, was a young man calling himself Piehead, and describing himself as Cynical, Bewildered and Disorganised. Well, he seemed pretty well organised to me: he took up with him a lavatory bowl and seat (and toilet paper), a bubble blowing device which blew bubbles out of the toilet, a lot of notices on cards, and a small tent. He had dressed himself in combat trousers (over pants), and layers and layers of T-shirts with different slogans on them.
He spent most of his time sitting on the toilet with his trousers round his ankles, and as his hour rolled by he alternated holding up his notices to the cameras with stripping off a T-shirt, until he was down to his last one of each. His final notice was "Do you want to see me put the 'man' into 'mankini?" When he got an affirmative (though not madly enthusiastic) vote, he stood up, said "this is my crowning moment", pulled off the last T-shirt and revealed that he was wearing one of those horrible garments modelled by the actor. Next his hands went to his pants and down they went, only to be be pulled up again at top speed. The young man's personal tackle had become somewhat disarranged and needing restoring to modesty p.d.q.!
I was interested to know whether such an unfortunate moment would be censored by the editors, and this evening I went back to the website to click on the video of Piehead's performance. The joke is that although it appears that they have tried to stop the video just before the awkward moment, they have actually ended it precisely at that moment, so that there is now a still picture of it on the One&Other website. If you don't believe me have a look for yourself here. Tune in at 59.00 minutes through his run.
I should say that aside from that unfortunate accident, the young man comported himself with absolute propriety while I watched him, and provided one of the more interesting performances that I have been able to catch. I am laughing, not at him but with him, in heartfelt sympathy.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
There are a number of diversions attached to this show, including, for those who would like to be on the plinth but can't, the possibility of creating a picture of themselves upthere. This seemed like fun, and I thought of putting myself up there, but decided that I would probably suffer from vertigo (yes, even virtually and vicariously!), so I put up my beloved old teddybear, Bruin, instead.
I wanted to add this text to the picture, but every time I tried to edit it, the picture disappeared, so I have had to write a separate post. You can hear Antony Gormley talk about his project if you follow this link to my video blog.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
The media don't help with their constant warnings to those who are most at risk: the elderly - ME; those with chronic health problems - ME; those who don't drink enough - ME, as I have to work really hard to remember. Though I did once feel very weird and unstable during the heatwave in 2003, and was really glad then for the advice that was being given out.
So enough of wingeing. The temperatures have come down below 30 degrees, and I am comfortable again, and can get on with some work. I'll maybe write about that in my next post.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
No 1, Yahoo's Babelfish, has a drop-down list and seems efficient, but only has 12 languages. This one is available with flags as an alternative.
No 2, by Google Translate, has flags and 24 languages, and also seems efficient. And it has the advantage of offering a floater (or whatever they are called) with the original text, to read alongside the translation.
No 3, from Widgetbox, has a drop-down list of about 40 languages !!, and takes up the least space (bonus point), but appears the least efficient, as I have not managed to make it translate into German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch or Welsh. I did however get a Latin translation from it, from which I learned that my blog is called NON MORTUUS ETIAMNUNC! in Latin. Sounds impressive, even if it may be rather rough Latin!
I shall be very pleased if anyone cares to try any of them out, and leave an opinion of their relative efficiency and appeal. Eventually I shall have to delete two of them.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Governor representatives in my Education Authority had a very long-running lobby for improving the clerking arrangements for governing bodies, beginning in 1988 as part of an Education Committee review of the clerking service. They campaigned not only for individual clerks for individual governing bodies, but also for their proper training and support. As so often happens when those fighting for a cause feel that they are not being heard through normal channels, we resorted to special measures. County Councillors attending an education meeting in January 1990 to discuss these issues, were each greeted with a copy of a poem laid on the table in front of them. Whether it was significant in bringing about the desired result we shall never know, but as the author of the work I would like to think that it was. At least it was reprinted in the next issue of the LEA's governors' magazine.
School governors' plea for a proper clerking service
We’ve said it before and we say it again:
We’re ready to learn and we’re willing to train;
We’ll read all the papers and sign on for courses;
But what is the use if we have no resources?
We’ve said it before and we’re saying it now:
We’re learning what’s what and we’re finding out how.
We’re eager to put it to work for our schools,
But to do a good job we must have the right tools.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it with flowers:
The government thinks we should delegate powers
To small sub-committees - but then if we do,
Their meetings and work will need servicing too.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it all day:
We cannot work miracles, try how we may;
We have our own jobs, and our families need us.
Must we do the admin? Will nobody heed us?
We’ve said it before and we want you to hear:
Our voluntary service is costing us dear.
We won’t go on strike, and we don’t want to pack up,
But please! don’t abuse us - do give us the back-up.
We’ve said it before and we’re saying it still:
The way is now clear and we do have the will
To play our full part and square up to the task.
Are the means to this end really too much to ask?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
It happens more and more as I get older. I don't know whether it is increasing age or living alone that brings it on, or a combination of both, but I do it all the time at home. It's nice to have the sound of a voice, and sometimes I need to encourage, or possibly discourage myself in what I am doing, or even ask myself what the hell it is I think I am doing!
On the whole I try not to do it when out and about, but the habit is so ingrained by now that it just breaks out from time to time. This evening, as I took my constitutional round the block, I noticed ahead of me a young couple standing beside a shiny black open-top sportscar. Next moment I noticed a tiny blond girl-child sitting behind the wheel."Oh!" I say, as my thoughts push my mouth open "there's a small per......." - but at the first sound of my voice the young man's head has come up and he is looking at me enquiringly.
"Sorry" I say "I was talking to myself. I was going to say 'there is a small person driving a big car'", and I smile in what I hope is a disarming manner. "Hmm - trying to" comes the response from the young man, who has fortunately not taken my remarks amiss.
So all in all quite a pleasant exchange, but supposing I had been passing disagreeable comment on someone? It could have turned nasty! I really must watch myself.
I found this illustration on a fascinating website called verbotomy.com - you really should visit it, especially if you are a lover of words. With great difficulty and some guessing web searches, I managed to decipher the name under the cat's paw, so that I could give them a plug. So I hope they don't mind my using the picture.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Ten years ago, at one of our Growing Old Disgracefully gatherings, we did a writing workshop. We were asked - or rather challenged - to write a poem to someone we know well, and to liken that person to:
You are my brown earth and my green growth,
You are my light and warmth and the breeze that blows.
You are my springtime and my renewal,
You are birdsong and the chime of bells.
You are the wheels that change my horizons,
You are my top gear, my accelerator.
You are the knife that cuts out waste.
You are my bread and my wine.
You are my best friend and companion.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Firstly ~ daffodils :: drifts and swathes and gusts of daffodils everywhere - hardly a stretch of road without them it seemed, in gardens, in fields and on roadsides. My Australian family were particularly delighted with these.
Secondly ~ lambs :: I had not seen any before we left, but they seemed to be in almost every field as we drove, some appearing to have dropped to earth the moment before we passed. Strangely though, by the time we had crossed the Scottish border there were no more. However, by the time we left ten days later Deeside had its own crop of new lambs too.
Thirdly ~ my very first red squirrel, with its cute little tufty ears, feeding outside the window of my daughter-in-law's parents' house. Very difficult to get a shot from inside the house, but I didn't dare even approach the window, in case I startled him. It seems that deer come too to their garden, which is set into the edge of the forest, but sadly I did not see one. Nor did we ever manage to see any real highland cattle, with their shaggy coats, short legs and long horns.
Birds ~ I saw my first oystercatcher too, described from a distance by a friend of my son's who knew no better, as "that big bird with a carrot in its mouth"! Also plenty of buzzards, but no eagles, and only a stuffed capercaillie at the Balmoral Castle museum.
That seems to lead by a natural progression to ...
- Roast pheasant, cooked by my son's mother-in-law, which was absolutely scrumptions;
- Scottish Wood Pigeon en croute which I didn't like at all (very gamey), and passed over to my son to finish; and
- Loin of Glen Muick Venison, which I found passable, but wouldn't order again.
That was at the Darroch Learg Hotel and Restaurant in Ballater. For more ordinary meals with the children as well, we went twice to The Potarch Hotel (more like an Inn) at Banchory. Here everybody could be served rather more quickly, and eat generously and appropriately, and those young enough to be energised by a big meal could go outside afterwards to play on a massive expanse of green field beside the River Dee.
We also went to a delightful farm shop and tearoom at Finzean, off the road from Aboyne to Banchory. Lots of freezers filled not only with farm grown fruit and veg, but also pies and cakes and other goodies. Upstairs in the restaurant were mixed salad platters with various meats and fish, soups and sandwiches. And every spare corner stuffed with attractive books, toys, household goods and accessories. Very difficult to walk away without a shopping bag filled with something. This review is worth reading if you have a chance to go there.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Here you can only go in to the old ballroom, where there is an exhibition, but there are extensive grounds to be visited, including The Queen's kitchen gardens in season, and more exhibitions in the stabling behind the gatehouse, not to mention a substantial cafe and gift shop. The Queen also has her own letterbox on the estate. The public car parks are a long walk away, but all the oldies piled into one car and got permission to drive up much closer to the castle before disembarking.
The gatehouse and the castle
The castle, and a fine specimen of
The castle drive and the castle
Aspects of the castle grounds
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
Tigh na Geald - or House on the Hill - is a traditional Victorian house overlooking the village green in the centre of Aboyne on Royal Deeside. The front porch is supported by Scots pine trunks roughly trimmed of their branches, a traditional way of building in Scotland I am told, and the inside of the house is richly and solidly finished with doors, window frames, banister rails, and kitchen units also in pine. The views from the rooms are across the green of Aboyne.
The house is only 10 minutes' walk from the centre of the village, so on the days when the younger members of the family were being too energetic for me, I could make off on my own to have coffee, shop, have lunch, shop some more, and take pictures of Aboyne.
The War Memorial Building and the Memorial Window