This Journal is Friends' Locked.Cruising Logs are public, as are the 365 Quote for the Day posts of 2009If you're looking for the fanfic, it's over on hesadevilspike. Icons are on gen_icons For all other comments, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on the relevant entry. Thank you.
made me a little nervous about attending this year's WriterConUK
I needn't have worried.
There were lots of friendly faces, some old and some new.
There were goody bags and a build and fly-yer-own dinosaur icebreaker activity before the quiz (my group won, thanks to the presence of super-geek Hils)
which was followed by cocktails.
There was a newly refurbished (to me) break-out area
On Saturday, There was a full day's programme.
|Fanfic as Conversation between writers
10.00 Fanfic as Conversation between writers
11.30 Bearable fanfics from Mills and Boon summaries (very silly but such fun)
14.00 Pimp your Fandom
15.00 Writing dialogue
16.30 Decorating your goody-bag pencil case
|Two Hugos and a Tequila Sunrise
17.30 Cocktails - I finally took the plunge and ordered a Hugo
1900 Dressing for dinner
I was grateful that I had booked a suite as there were times when I felt rough or was too tired to participate fully. I was able to retire to my rooms and have some tea and knit.
|Cowl on blocking wires
No one minded when I opted out, and I wasn't the only one to do so because the day was so packed
I even managed to finish a lacy cowl I was working on.
I had a great, if somewhat tiring time. Best of all, in my opinion, people came foward at the AGM to fill the vacancies left by the outgoing Chairperson and Treasurer - guaranteeing the continuation of The Event
into its eighth year, and beyond.
The Event ended with the raffle. This year, people were so generous and brought more than one item each. Everyone managed to snaffle more than one raffle prize. Mine was a bottle of Cremant de Limoux and a box of Guiness Fudge.
My personal thanks go to gillo and curiouswombat for their four years' service as Chairperson and Treasurer - and for making this year's Event a pleasurable one for me.
My last session with my Personal Trainer revealed a total lack of muscle tone in my left tricep. I had no problem raising a 3kg dumbell to position 1, but after I'd put it into position 2, over my left shoulder, I couldn't raise it up again - at all. The right arm had no such problems and could have coped with a heavier weight.
During an Aquacise class yesterday morning, the instructor offered some Speedo Aqua fitness gloves. I decided to give them a go and concentrated on working my upper arms throughout the session, giving my knee a rest from it's recent flareup (arch support must go back in the right shoe for a while).
It's a bit like having webbed fingers. The gloves provide more resistance as you work the arms throughout the exercises,
I'm just beginning to feel the benefit of the workout on those arm muscles this morning.
Final session with my PT is on Thursday. Then it's off to the delights of the Suffolk coastline for two weeks' relaxation and lots of walking.
Time to pack the bucket and spade, wellies, and walking boots, for a Spring Fling break with MWNN and Ron in Suffolk.
continues to be well attended and a buzz of activity.
|Tea served 'in a pot'
Yesterday, plans for the Festiwool (details coming soon) and Living Crafts
events attracted much comment and involvement. Refreshments provided at The Sun, with courtesy and good nature (as always) by Aidan.
|Casting-off the final stitch
|Modelling the stole
meanwhile, some of our members worked quietly on their knitting. One member, in particular ( a young woman with learning disabilty and epilepsy), put the finishing touches to a lovely stole she's been working on.
- Wimpole Park.
After the fog had burned off this morning, MWNN drove me and his sister to Wimpole Hall Estate.
We arrived at lunchtime, unpacked the chairs and picnic and sat in the sun enjoying our food and tea.
After lunch, we gave Ron a short walk around the house. There were sheep in the fields and notices warning that lambing would be happening soon, so dogs were to be kept on quite a short lead.
The view from the house is lovely, and gives some idea of the size of the estate.
Soon it was time for tea. We sat on the terrace outside the old Rectory (1597) which houses the restaurant, as it was too hot to leave Ron in the car.
We were joined by a pair of chafinches, eager to share the freshly-baked cakes. Unlike other diners, we left crumbs on the plate for our discerning feathered friends.
A short 30 minuted drive later, we were home again.
the less I need distance specs for driving (apparently, I'm now legal to drive without them). and the more I need reading specs for knitting, sewing, or reading.
I collected my new pair of readers yesterday (needed a new pair because my prescription had changed again). Specsavers did me a really good deal - 25% off for being over 60 - plus a 'golden ticket
' (I feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory) for 50% discount on another pair, if used within a month. Family/friend could use it for 25% off.
is almost sprung.
It was really warm and sunny yesterday.
The garden was full of butterflies - fritillaries of all sizes. A pair of long-tailed tits was looking for a suitable nesting site (still feeling a little guilty at the removal of the leylandii from the front garden), reminding me that if the trees are to be pruned, it should be in the next week or so.
The weather was so warm that a load of bed linen dried and aired in a couple of hours in the garden, coming in only as the sun dipped behind the neighbour's roof. It will soon be setting later in the day - clocks spring forward an hour on the 30th of this month. I've never understood what is actually 'saved' by doing this.
they go to humongous lengths to get wi-fi up and running for skype sessions at a hotel where the internet connection is down and will remain down for the foreseeable future.WriterConUK's organising team pulled out all the stops when the members discovered that there was no internet connection at the hotel. The team persuaded the duty manager that it was essential to set up a skype connection for me as I was unable to attend. The Event in person. Duty Manager, Mike went out into Coventry and bought a dongle to set up a mifi on the team's laptop.Connection was dicey at first as there were problems with the sound quality. Eventually that was sorted and I was able to say 'hi' to old friends in the newly refurbished Breakout Area.
I was able to attend some of the presentations but missed others.
One of the few sessions I was able to follow really well was 'Building Costumes.I wish I had been there for the practical sessions on designing a character,and for the When Art meets fic.Not to mention all the other wonderful presentations I missed because of one thing or another.I realised, just before the start of The Event, on Friday evening, that I had Raffle prizes to add to the impressive pile on display. Mine couldn't travel alone, so were added virtually.
I was even able to take part in the AGM during which the all-important question of 'do we carry on in the face of falling numbers?' was discussed.The answer is of course we do - small is beautiful and our quirky British event is like no other convention.The Goodie-Bag Queen, Bogwitch, delivered my personalised Goodie-Bag on her way home on Sunday afternoon. I handed over two of the three items for the raffle which she will deliver. The third, The DVD of The Hobbit, will be posted as soon as I receive the winner's (everyone's a winner at The Event) details.My Goodie-Bag and contents.Raffle Prizes - bottle of Prosecco, Hobbit Cinema poster, Mug.Personalised contents - Event Programme, Discworld bottle opener, name-badge and lanyard, writerConUk pen, notebook, selection of sweets and chocolates, fun-sized maracas, bubble-wand.The Goodie-Bag itself is re-useable this year - a canvas bag with WriterconUK graphics.It was so wonderful to be included at this year's Event and I am really grateful for the team efforts to make it happen in such difficult circumstances.
I'm posting daily to my new(er) Blogger Blog
If anyone is interested in keeping in touch, add the Slow Lane
to your FList.
But, before you do, hop on over to WriterConUK
for the latest update on this year's Event.
Now, if I could add my FLIst to my Blogger reading list, I'd feel a lot happier.
I have been neglectful of my LJ.
However, I have been posting daily to my new(er) Blogger Blog
If anyone is interested in keeping in touch, add the Slow Lane to your FList.
Now, if I could add my FLIst to my Blogger reading list, I'd feel a lot happier.
the day we went to
Event IronmanWales was exciting (if somewhat wet and tiring on the leg).
The countdown to the Pro finishers.
The 'Voice' of Ironman, bringing the athletes home.
N0rm, captured on lap 3 of the run by MWNN.
N0rm was too fast for me, coming round the bend beneath the town gate like Stormin Norman.
Whoosh ..... missed him again on the Red Carpet.
At the finishing line.
and he's home in excellent time.
TOTKat and N0rm at IronmanWales awards ceremony.
|TOTKat acknowledging her 'honourable mention'|
and I visited Hitchin Lavender
, I asked if the farm's lavender was suitable for cooking. The assistant said it was but to use it sparingly, especially the dried version. I said I'd like to try using the lavender from my garden and was told that it would be ideal as it was best to use just picked lavender.
I searched for recipes online and came up with a fairly simple one for lavender shortbread. I'm keen to try it out and 'test' it on MWNN
when he returns from cat-sitting duties at The Daughter's (104) house.
- 150g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 100g butter
- 50g caster sugar
- 2 tsp culinary dried lavender flowers
MethodIf my baking is OK, I plan to take some lavender shortbread to Wales, for a friend, when I visit following cheering on 103 and 104 in Ironman UK Wales. Ironman UK, Bolton
Preheat oven to 160degC. Slightly crush 1tsp lavender flowers in a pestle and mortar to release the natural oils. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl with the caster sugar, butter and crushed lavender, and rub in using fingertips to make a crumbly mixture which can then be kneaded together to make a dough. Roll out to 1cm thick and cut into individual rounds. Sprinkle with the remaining lavender flowers, pressing them down gently until they stick, then bake for 10-15 mins until the shortbread is just starting to brown. Leave for 10 mins before removing from baking tray, and sprinkle with caster sugar.
is happening today. You can track 103 and 104 on the day using the competitor tracking.
Our away-day trip to Laon was overdue. Laon
is the medieval capital of France. Charlemagne was born there. It boasts the oldest Cathedral in the country. The views from the ramparts (if you can find a place to park) are spectacular.
We arrived after a leisurely lunch on the way down at the Auberge de Vendeul. We climbed up to the Cathedral from the first car park which is just outside the entrance gate of the old town. After the visit to the Cathedral, we shopped in the town where MWNN
discovered a shop selling tea and some wonderful freshly-ground coffee.
At tea time, we picnicked in the car park overlooking the view of the countryside far below.
It's a fascinating town (city?) with a long history.
is an area between the railway and canal, right beside the town centre.
The Parc d'Isle is big (47.52 hectares). It contains lakes, marshes, orientation course, a farm, and other environmentaly-friendly areas. Entrance is free.
Despite the blustery, wet weather, we managed an hour's walk along the main footpath (through the topiary) before the rain swept in again.
This is a wonderful resource, right on our doorstep (gunwales) and something we mean to make more use of during our visits to the boat.
One of the places I've wanted to visit for quite a long time, is
. The BBC series 'Merlin'
uses the castle as one of its locations. It's not far from St Quentin, on the road between Compiegne and Soissons.
|Taken with mobile phone|
The town is a little like Portmeirion
in Wales, in that it is totally geared up for tourists. There is a variety of places to eat, from the lakeside gardens to the Auberge aux Bles D'or in which we had a fairly disasterous meal (that's a story that makes Basil Fawlty look positively super-efficient by comparison).The castle dominates the town. It was a pity that the weather prevented us exploring the park around the castle.
|Taken on the climb up to the entrance|
The tour of the Castle was a long one. It's impressive, given that it was built on the ruins of a much earlier castle at the request of Napoleon III, but disappointing in that its interior is used as a display space for art and sculpture from other regions of France and other epocs.
|One of the many restored staircases|
There is evidence of much restoration, both inside and out. Climbing the many flights of stone steps and loking down from the drawbridge 'control room' reminded us that such castles were fortresses, built to repel would-be invaders.
Several restored interiors give some idea of the scale of the 'state' rooms. The grand hall, with its double fireplace has all the grandeur expected of an Emperor's 'holiday estate' in the Forest of Compiegne. The circular seating is one of the few remaining pieces of furniture from Viollet-le-Duc's
Inside, Viollet-le-Duc produced more a work of invention than
|Image from http://www.skyscrapercity.com|
restoration. He imagined how the castle ought to
have been, rather than basing his work on the strict history of the
building. On the other hand, with the exterior he showed an excellent
knowledge of the military architecture of the 14th century
There was one glimpse of part of the Merlin set left in place for the film crew's next visit (just a few days after we were there). These town cottages are merely 'front elevations'
Pierrefonds may be worth a second visit when the weather is good enough to picnic in the park.
Although we didn't get a cruise this year, we did
take time out from working on the boat to explore the area around St Quentin.
|Aerial view giving some idea of the scale of the site|
One of our first 'away days' was spent at Prémontré as MWNN wanted to see Prémontré Abbey, the mother house of the Premonstratensian Order. I forgot to take my camera so have raided the web for these images.
Of the old abbey as it was from the 12th to the 16th centuries hardly
anything remains, but three large buildings of the 17th and 18th
centuries are still standing, part of one of which is used as a church,
dedicated to Saint Norbert. Since 1867, the main buildings have been used as a psychiatric hospital. There are no 'inmates' any more , just staff of the Centre Hospitalier de Prémontré. We were unable to see inside any of the buildings as it was Sunday and no one (apart from one 'patient' with attached medical attendant) was there.It was easy to get some idea of the scale of the Abbey as it was in the 12th century, as the approach is around the outer wall. The remains are the size of a village set amid the vast acres belonging to the Commune of Prémontré.
Remembering Mum who died one year ago at the Winter Solstice.“How we remember, what we remember and why we remember form the most personal map of our individuality.”
The abiding memories from my childhood include Mum teaching me to read before I started school. Throughout my schooldays, she was there, encouraging, helping me revise for exams and attending Parents' Evenings, Summer Fetes, and Speech Day events. She taught me the value of working hard and saving for things I wanted as well as spending wisely without incurring debts.
It gave me great satisfaction to find a marble statue for the garden that will remind me of all this. The statue is called 'Rosemary
' (in the manufacturer's catalogue) but her real
identity is that of the goddess Minerva (Athena) holding a book.
As patron goddess of learning, Minerva, frequently features in statuary at educational establishments. To me, she is a reminder of the wisdom traditionally passed from mother to daughter and the very special place my
mother held throughout my formative years.
The statue is not very tall (85cm) and will be placed beside the Rosemary bush on the newly-restored patio where Mum loved to sit in the sun when she came down for a visit. MWNN
has given me Christmas money to spend on herbs and plants for the raised beds. I think some heathers would be nice, as the large raised bed is filled with Fenland soil, rather than the chalky stuff in the rest of the garden. "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember." Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 4.
Some of you may know that I published a book in 2002. One thousand copies were printed and I thought we'd never sell them all. Everyone on the publishing team was relieved when we broke even with 400 orders pre-launch.
Afterwards, numbers of copies dwindled slowly over the next six years. Contacts through the website
steadilly increased until we were down to less than 20 copies in 2010.
I began to think seriously about an e-version when requests from the US and Europe increased reducing the numbers of copies available to single figures. The cost of postage sometimes matched that of the book.
|Kindle version cover
Last week, I publlished a Kindle Version
for Amazon. It's available in the US
, and Germany
at the moment. It came as a great shock and disappointment to learn that e-books attract VAT in the UK.
I was also a little disappointed at the Kindle's conversion program which rendered the Contents, index, and footnotes inoperable but, given that there are so few copies left (6) this is the one way of 'owning' a copy of the original 2002 text and (apart from the front cover) images.With a lot of trial and error, ( a steep learning curve) I managed to revise the first conversion attempt and now Contents' page and footnote links work and the pages look correctly formatted. Picture zoom and text to speech are aso enabled and I adjusted the pricing to absorb the VAT.
The Kindle edition should be available for download in the following countries:
United Kingdom (including Guernsey, Jersey, and Isle of Man)
Please sign the e-petition
against VAT on ebooks. You need to verify your registration once you've signed up to the petition for it to take effect.