Wednesday, 28 February 2007

How do I de-clutter?

It's got to me again! I've spent most of tonight (whilst intermittently getting distracted by other peoples blogs or skim watching TV) clearing a tiny corner of my living room, lounge, or whatever else you might want to call it. I do this periodically and never finish the whole room. In fact I do it in every room and never finish any of them. Having moved (years ago) from a very small house with a very large cellar, to my minute (but could look good if I didn't smoke in here and got rid of all the clutter) one bedroom flat with no extra storage space, I still haven't managed to get rid of enough stuff to have room to move about in here.

Anyway, to waffle on a bit more, the reason I started this time was so that I could move my shiny new widescreen laptop (it might be a laptop but it's not an overly portable one) off the chair that I'd moved directly in front of the sofa to somewhere a little bit safer. I've managed that now (it's still right by my favourite sofa spot), but on looking around I've got a very nice laptop space but have just moved everything else onto the floor, table, old PC desk (with the old PC still there) and various bookcases. In fact I haven't really made a whole lot of difference!

The problem is I find it really difficult to get rid of things. Over the past year I've managed to move out 20+ black bin bags of old clothes, and get rid of other stuff, but as fast (well, probably not that fast) as I do that, I replace it with even more stuff.

Books are one big problem. I never used to be able to get rid of any. In fact I abandoned a load at my mum and dad's many years ago (and they're still there, and I keep adding to that collection), I also took a load to one of the local market stalls at one point. I do still however have 3 bookcases full that I can't bring myself to get rid of. As an avid reader the collection kept growing so last year I joined the Read It Swap It site thinking that I could stop adding to the collection by getting rid of a book every time I got a new one. That doesn't work, I still buy new books and will often swap the ones I don't want to keep for ones to add to my favourite authors collection. I think I need a new job that pays enough for me to be able to buy a huge house so I can have a room set aside as a library!

Anyway, I've started again, and told people here this time, so let's see how far I get. If anyone has any advice on how to let go of things (I always think they might come in useful at some future point even though I will happily acknowledge that I haven't used, looked at, thought about, them for ages), please let me know. I really do need to just dump loads!

Sorry, not an exciting post I know. Maybe when I do manage to declutter I will find more interesting things to post about...

Sunday, 25 February 2007

What flavour ice cream are you?

While browsing through some other blogs I came across one where someone had done this and thought I'd give it a go. Here are my results. I have to say I wouldn't have described myself like this.

You Are Strawberry Ice Cream

A bit shy and sensitive, you are sweet to the core.
You often find yourself on the outside looking in.
Insightful and pensive, you really understand how the world works.

You are most compatible with chocolate chip ice cream.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Dancing on Ice

Well - I admitted to my sad reality tv addiction not that long ago. I'm also a regular frequenter of various Digital Spy forums. Wasn't sure if I was going to be home on time tonight so I set the PC up to record Dancing on Ice. I was home in time but left it to record anyway. Then I visited the forums. People do get very involved with who they support. Anyway, tonight Kay and Fred left and at the request of a forum member for pictures of Fred I posted some. Here they are.

From TV to childhood books

OK, before I start this, I'm going to admit that I am a very sad TV addict. I religiously watch all sorts of stuff, not at all educational, and I am a total reality TV addict. This has no connection to reality TV though, it's closer to my other TV thing which is becoming known in some places as cult TV, things like Dr Who, Lost, 24, Star Trek and so on. With my TV preferences now almost fully exposed I can say that I was watching the first episode of the second series of Life on Mars the other night. I'm getting desperate to know exactly what is going on. Is Sam in a coma, is it all his imagination, or has he actually managed to time travel to 1973? This series is apparently going to be the last - so I hope we actually get to know by the end of it. It's quite strange to watch, sort of The Bill in a UK Starsky and Hutch style, but with a kind of possible time travel sort of twist.

Well, that's what got me going. During the episode Annie Cartwright, "a female in the police at a time when women were often undermined, underused, ignored, and taken for granted" (that still sounds familiar on occasion), managed to persuade the guys to listen to the results of some investigative work she'd done and mentioned Nancy Drew. That immediately started me thinking about the books I used to read.

We travelled a lot when I was younger, so much so that by the time I was eleven I was at my eleventh school! As an only child this meant that, until I'd had time to settle in at a new location, I had to keep myself entertained. This resulted in a very early love of reading just about every genre of fiction going. I still remember my blonde curly haired "cousin" taking the mick out of me as I laid on the sofa or floor reading, my arms tended to extend straight upwards as I got more engrossed. (Unfortunately these days my eyes can't quite cope with that distance.)

I have to admit that I was a total Enid Blyton fan. I think I started with things like Noddy, The Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair and The Naughtiest Girl, but it soon moved on. I know there are quite a few people who are anti Enid Blyton but I still think she's great. She kept me entertained throughout my childhood and definitely helped me develop my imagination.

I moved on, got into Mallory Towers and St Clares, both also by Enid Blyton, and then also found the Chalet School by Elinor Brent-Dyer. I think it was the constant changing of schools that got me into these.

Eventually I found mysteries. I'm not sure which I got to first, the Secret Seven or the Famous Five, but I think that is where my interest in adventure stories started.

I did move on to other authors, The Hardy Boys published under the pen name Franklin W Dixon but actually created by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Also created by the syndicate were Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins, more old favourites of mine – you can find more information on these by following the links from the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

Thinking about it I’m sad that with all the moves over the years my extensive collection of childrens books got left behind somewhere. I would have liked to revisit them. I guess if it comes to it I could always borrow them from the library but I do always have a huge pile of books waiting to be read.

Now I'm a tad (ooohh - that gives my age away) older I still have a diverse interest in fiction (I'll probably elaborate on that for me at some point in the future). I'd like to know what everyone else read as a child, and where it has led them to nowadays. Go on; let me know with your comments.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Getting old?

I think I'm getting old. I remember the days when I used to get home and whack up the volume on the stereo. If I had the TV on it was at a loud volume. (Admittedly a lot of this probably arose from when I was still living with my parents and had to battle with my dad's stereo noise. He's deaf in one ear and had his speakers almost directly under my bedroom floor!)

Since moving into my flat I've been a lot more aware of disturbing the neighbours and now tend to have the TV on at a low volume, and very rarely use the stereo without headphones as I have no way of reducing the bass.

The flat above me was owned by a lovely girl when I first moved in. She was a perfect neighbour. Unfortunately, a few years back she moved back to Scotland. Since then I've had a few changes of neighbours as the girl who bought it rents it out. I now dread new neighbours, I've had some battles in the past where after telling one guy that I didn't mind loud music sometimes, the constant bass throbbing through the ceiling was a bit tough. He just smiled at me and ignored it. I then lost it and started retaliating by staying up late with my stereo at full blast with high bass tracks playing in one room while I shut the door on it and went in the other room. It didn't work, we just ended up hating each other and nothing was ever resolved. In fact it ended up with them chucking stuff out of their windows trying to target my cats. I did complain to their landlady who told me they were moving out that week. Phew!

Anyway, things haven't been too bad since then, but I've now got a new couple upstairs. All seemed well at first, but now, every now and again I get home in the evening, switch on my PC to nose through peoples blogs, have the TV on low, then it starts. The constant bang bang bang of the bass. It started when I got in tonight, about 6:45 and has been going on since. My TV has got louder and louder trying to drown it out, but I don't like loud TV anymore.

I'm contemplating saying something to them, but don't want to end up with another running battle. Hmmn, maybe I'll just leave it, don't want them to think I'm a whingy old cow!

Edited 22:54 - Sorry, a bit of a whinge there, the second in not too long, and this was meant to be where I sorted out my old photo collection, not somewhere to moan.

Edited 00:17 - They really clump around slamming doors and chucking things on the floor as well...

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Cute dogs

Confusing I know, post title says cute dogs and you get a picture of a cat!

I've always been a pet lover. Living in Africa as a child we always had dogs and I love them. Unfortunately, I now live in a one bedroom flat and have a full time job. That kind of precludes having dogs as pets. So, animal lover that I am, I brought my two kitty girls from my
old house to live with me here in my flat. (They did have a slightly extended holiday at Mum and Dad's old place in East London before they moved here, as I had a bit of a gap between moving out of the house and fnding somewhere else to live.)

Anyway, that gives a bit of my history, photo of Moja (cat number one - Moja means one in Swahili) is the one at the top of this post - it's a fairly recent one, will try and get some cutie kitten ones scanned at a later date. Pics of Mbili (two in Swahili) will also follow.

Well, the post title is cute dogs, I'd love a dog and I know a dog would love me! While we were in Africa when I was a lot younger we always had dogs. Unfortunately now I have to fulfill my dog hug and play requirements with my friends pets. So, here are three pictures of Chas (a Bichon Frise), Billy (another Bichon Frise) and Lola (Miniature Schnauzer) in turn. (I know, ladies should be mentioned first, but this is in age order, oldest first.) They are all small dogs and up until meeting them I was used to dogs of a much larger variety, but they are absolutely full of fun and character.

The dog(s) that I am waiting to meet (all I've done so far is read about them), and I suspect it might be some time before I do actually meet them - if ever, belong to my cousin and his wife. They are Black Russian Terriers and sound like absolute terrorists, and are huuuuge, but I still would love to get to know them. This is a picture that I snaffled off R&J's old blog site, it's a small picture but the dogs are so much bigger than those in the earlier pictures.

Oh well, photos all up, not like the real thing but about as close as I'm going to get!

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Warm chicken, Jerusalem artichoke and caper salad

A recipe from Mum, not sure which paper she got it from... serves 4-6 (so far too much for me - but will get round to trying a cut down version soon!)

500g Jerusalem artichokes
4 bulbs chicory, halved cored and sliced
3 heaped tablesp capers
400g cold cooked smoked chicken, or cooked streaky bacon, diced
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tablesp olive oil

1 teasp Dijon mustard
½ teasp. runny honey
25 ml white wine vinegar
75 ml extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

First make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jam jar and shaking vigorously to combine. Parboil the Jerusalem artichokes in salted, boiling water for about 10 minutes until tender. Be careful, as they can go mushy quickly when they are cooked. Cut the J-chokes into slices (½cm to 1 cm thick) and toss them in the olive oil. Char-grill them in a griddle pan over a high heat until they are tender and nicely marked by the pan ridges. Toss them in the salad dressing along with all the other ingredients and serve.

Char-grilled J-chokes are great with a steak instead of chips.

New job?

Got totally fed up at work today. Nothing major happened, just one small thing that I was/am really unhappy about. Anyway, feeling miserable I contemplated job hunting but it's difficult when you've been with a company as long as I have been with this one. If I went elsewhere I'd probably have to travel further and it could be "out of the frying pan, into the fire". After all I am comfortable in this job, I know everyone, I've experienced a lot of roles. Hmmn, I know I won't do anything... but anyway it's a good excuse for something from Harold's Planet (visit the site and play with the Grisbium Dawn Chorus - it always makes me smile).

It comes up a bit small to read here - click the picture to see it full size on the Harold's Planet blog.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007


The family of one of my friends has had a small appartment in Spain for many years. I have been lucky enough to have been invited to stay several times now. The apartment is in a small place called Butti and has a pool which is just by the beach. You can see how close if you follow this link, the pool in question is the rectangular one with the chopped off corner that is in the middle of the map.

It's a lovely place to escape for a short break and I got some gorgeous sunset shots from the apartment window.


As I've just had a complaint that I haven't added anything new I've decided to add another post now. So, if you don't already know her, I'd like to introduce you to Maxine who I just met today.

Maxine is the creation of John Wagner for Hallmark, inspired by people such as his mother, his grandmother and his maiden aunts. Much as she's very American, she does come out with a lot of things that ring a bell with me!

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Mika - Grace Kelly

Experimenting here - finding out what you can add to these blogs. This song by Mika has reached number one in the charts before it's even been released. In fact the guy has made his name through My Space and YouTube. I quite like it. What do you think?

Saturday, 3 February 2007


Mum and Dad moved to North Wales in October 2000, to a place called Deganwy. I don't visit as much as I should, although probably more than I did when they lived the other side of London!

Here is a photo I took when I did visit in June 2002. It's up in Conwy Castle, which is just across the bay from where Mum and Dad are. I had a few moments of panic trying to wander round at this height, it was even worse at the top of one of the towers!

If I were to move to Wales, which Mum keeps trying to persuade me to do, I would love to have a little place within Conwy's town walls. It's a small town with character and lots of little shops filled with wonderful stuff. These shops include my favourite butchers shop, Edwards of Conwy, which also includes a delicious deli. Mum takes me there to stock up on tasty food every time I visit.

Another place to visit in Conwy, just down on the waterfront, is the littlest house in Britain. It's tiny, as you can see from the picture (the lady standing outside wasn't very tall) but if I remember correctly two people used to live in there! It is actually two floors with the "bedroom" upstairs.

Nearby, just outside the town centre, is Conwy Butterfly Jungle, which is an enclosed jungle type garden full of beautiful tropical butterflies. I took loads of photos there but seem to have lost most of them. They were really stunning.

From 0206

Friday, 2 February 2007

Flower in August

Posted by PicasaThe first of the photo collection. I treated myself to a bunch of flowers last August, thought they were sooo beautiful I just had to try and capture the picture...

What to do?

Well, now I've set this up, played around with the layout and colours, I guess it's time to decide what I'm going to do with it. As I'm not a great one for going into detail about what I'm currently doing I think I might just post about things that catch my eye, interspersed with my old (although only as far back as when I first got a digital camera) photos as I dig them off my old PC. Obviously this means that things are going to be in a very strange order.

So here we go...