Friday, 21 March 2014


Well, I managed to make my Dad's old labcoat (he's 6'4") fit Itsy-bitsy for "Dress like a scientist" day at school today!

As you can see (possibly), she went as Rosalind Franklin Ph.D. who was part of the team who discovered DNA. Unfortunately, she died before the end of the project (and a few years before the Nobel Prizes were given to Watson and Crick) and is less well remembered.

I drew a double helix on the re-attached pocket with a sharpie, with DNA underneath... and then wrote Rosalind Franklin Ph.D. underneath that!


So, onto the "Squeeee!!!"... I have splurged and purchased tickets for the Harrogate Crime Writers Festival this coming July! I am going to the whole event, so I have one weekend rover ticket with bed and breakfast accomodation purchased (I even managed to find free parking, in Harrogate, which I understand is something of an achievement!), *and* I have bought a ticket to the "Creative Thursday" workshop day!

I am very, very excited, and promise not to gloat too much! Although some small amount of gloating may happen after the event! Apparently photography during the events (panels/interviews/workshops) is not permitted, but there are likely to be authors just wandering round, in the wild as it were, who may agree to having photographs taken!

It does mean that I won't be able to go to History Live this year, which I will miss... but, we can maybe alternate and do History Live one year, and the Crime Writers Festival the other. 

And finally, Beloved has purchased a shiny new camera lens for my camera! So, I hope to go for a nature ramble over the weekend, with the camera, and take some photographs of the prettier parts of Runcorn... I shall report back after the weekend!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Orchids, orchids, and eucalyptus trees!

Kew Palace

Last weekend, I took my Mum and daughter to see the orchid festival at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, London.

We left the NorthWest around 7am on the Saturday morning, and found rather a lot of other people already on the motorway. At one point, we ended up stopped on the M1 for almost 40 minutes, which really made the journey longer, and then, we found the right road, and promptly went the wrong way along the North Circular for about half an hour before we noticed! Oops!
The Orchid Display - well, part of it
We got there eventually though. Once we had found a place to park, we went in (having pre-paid for tickets via the internet) and found a play area, where daughter could stretch her legs and we could have our sandwhiches, as it was just coming up for midday by this time.
More of the orchid display
We did use the explorer bus, but didn't do the full route on it, and walked for most of the way round the gardens. Checking gmaps pedometer when we got home, I discovered that we had walked around 5miles while we were at the gardens (ouch, no wonder my feet ached). I even managed to Tree Top Walk... A staggering 108 steps to a raised platform, eighteen metres above the ground! I don't do heights, made obvious to passers-by, by my faintly green-hue and whitened knuckles, gripping the hand rail for all I was worth. But my Mum wasn't going up, and I could hardly let a six year old go up on her own. So, whilst it was a terrifying experience for me, I survived. Apparently the views are fantastic. I can't confirm that, I kept one eye on my daughter and the other squinting so I could see where I was going!

The Tree Top Walk
The View from the Tree Top Walk
108 Steps
We didn't see everything unfortunately, although we did our best in the five-and-a-half hours, before they closed. The gift-shop had closed before we left, which upset girl-child greatly (she's six, the gift-shop is the best part of any day-trip) and we missed the ice-cream van in the car park by mere moments, but we did manage a short walk along the banks of the river Thames at Richmond, before driving home again.
We stopped for some food and diesel at the services on the toll road, and made it home for around ten thirty at night. It was a long day, and not a cheap day, but it was totally worth it!
Eucalyptus Tree

I took around 600 photos while we were there (a few more than my one-a-day requirement for lent), but I have chosen only my favourites to put on here, just not in any particular order. I'd recommend a visit if you can, so much so, that we're planning to go again in June, so that we can see the roses in bloom. Enjoy:




Thursday, 6 March 2014

Lenten Resolutions

New Years resolutions, there were none. As I have mentioned previously, I never stick to them anyway. Lent, however, works. This is, after all, how I gave up smoking!

Now, I always thought that Lent was like advent. It doesn't matter your religious beliefs, it's something that most people in society join in with. However, yesterday (Ash Wednesday) I heard a wide range of opinions, from one person who said that lent was against the scriptures, he didn't give specifics, and I wasn't going to go and look it up! I still have fish on Friday, and I've never entirely understood why we do that, I've never worried about it, I've just got along and had fish for tea on a Friday and a vegetarian lunch. I figured it was good for me anyway. I digress. Someone else wouldn't participate because it was a pagan belief, so are Christmas trees, and I happen to know that she had a big tree up in December, in fact, come to that, so are eggs at Easter... I can guarantee she won't be skipping that paganism either! Finally, someone else told me that on the grounds that I haven't been to church (any church) for some time, I don't need to bother anymore!

Well. I "do" giving up something for lent because I always have. I happen to know that a period of fasting at this time of year wasn't a religious anything, if you go back far enough, it was due to lack of food after the winter months & big Christmas/Yuletide/midwinter feasting before the new growth in the spring. The Pope gave a sermon about it, so I think we can safely say that it is an accepted part of religion (he is supposed to be infallible after-all, apart from that minor word change last week there - if you didn't see it, look it up.) Anyway. Stuff it. It's tradition. I am sticking with it, the same way we have an advent calendar and an indoor tree at Christmas, and if you think I am going to not have a chocolate-fest at Easter, you are very much mistaken.

However, this year I really struggled to find something to give up. I need to be realistic. It is usually about self-deprivation, but if you go to Easter, rather than palm Sunday, then it is 47 days, which, being a little over six weeks, is long enough (so psychologists tell us) for something to become a habit. So, I thought that I would try to do new things, but I still need to give something up.

Fast food is this years deprivation. No McDonalds, no KFC, no Burger King, no Subway... then we decided no kebab houses or pizza places, no chip-shops or takeaways. We can still eat out, (my birthday always falls in lent), but we have to limit that. And if we are on a day trip, we are taking sandwiches. It's going to be tough, but we'll get through.

I'm also not to go to the little local shops for 'top-up' shops. I am a bit of a one for doing that, and always end up overspending. It doesn't seem like much a few quid here, a fiver there... but it adds up. If we forget it in the main weekly shop, we have to do without! I made it through yesterday, but only just. I almost went at lunchtime! But I didn't.

I am taking at least one photograph each day - it should be of something that makes you happy or something that you are grateful for... This is my first photo, from Ash Wednesday. Taken from Weston, looking out at a small outcrop. If you can ignore the industry and chemical factories, you sometimes get a sense of how pretty this area is. 
I am also trying to read, write and sew something everyday. I managed 5 chapters (over two books) yesterday. And a little bit of sewing for a group stitch along (where a large group of people all stitch the same pattern). I also wrote a full side of A4, with a pen. It was rubbish and had no plot. But I wrote! I didn't check the word count. But I will count it shortly, and then will keep a NaNo-esque tally of how much I write during Lent.

For my final goal, I was hoping to try to learn something new in Lent, but I didn't manage to start anything yesterday. I may still try this evening and do Easter Monday too... I'll let you know how I get on later in the week!

If you are giving something up (or taking something up) this lent, then good luck! It's not supposed to be easy, and I'll be wishing for Easter so I can have a chippy tea right there with you!