Google+ Badge

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Baby makes a mess.

I used to have a neat and tidy home. Then 6 and a half years ago I had my first son. These were special years. I learned to let go of my neatness, my fondness for order and embrace the chaos. As the years went by the order slowly returned and I found I could even get my son to tidy up, occasionally. Although it has to be said he still finds it far easier and quicker to creat a mess then he ever does tidying. Anyway almost a year ago it all started again with son number two. I'm embracing the chaos once again. The tranquility will return some day I'm sure but perhaps not quite yet. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Keeping an eye on the little things!

I'm a mum of two boys and I work full time. Things are hectic at work and hectic at home sometimes I'm ready for bed before the children.  Well most of the time I'm ready for bed before the children.  I barely get time to wash, dry and iron the clothes let alone cook meals, baby food, do the shopping, service the car, visit the dentist and generally clean the house and make myself look presentable.  I used to keep a few notes on Google's 'Days Since' which gave me a fairly good idea of how long it had been since I called my mum, sisters, visited my Grandma, went for a run, swimming, met up with friends (yes I did used to have a life) but alas that wasn't available on my phone so it increasingly became out of date.  Tom Walton and his good friend David Yates have developed, to coin a phrase, 'an app for that', in response to the sheer lack of practical ways to record life's day-to-day unrecorded, unremembered 'little things'.  Logsit does all the remembering for me on my omni-present Iphone.  Not only does it remind me its time to feed my little 10 month old son but it knows when I last took paracetamol, drank a cup of coffee, when and where I put diesel in the car and how much it cost, when my car last had a service and what was wrong with it!  As if all that wasn't enough I get presented with a fantastic little gallery of all my family's hair cuts, favourite places to visit, bottles of wine I've tried and films I've watched. It couldn't be more simple if it tried.  If there's one little 'app' out there that you can't live without its Logsit.  Its the most used app on my phone and well its just awesome.  The best 69p I've ever spent!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A magnificent timber time machine

I recently had the pleasure of undertaking a site visit to probably the largest cruck frame building in Derbyshire.  The best part was that it still formed part of a working farm and was still used by the farmer.  Whilst I understand the need to preserve these buildings and to find a viable modern use it really was a pleasure to see this building being used in a similar manner to that of its original purpose, obviously it was no longer lived in.  The conversion of these buildings to homes and holiday lets does provide a modern use but it does result in a significant change in their character.  So much of the building is usually lost, hidden or replaced.  With the insertion of modern partition walls, new roof and compliance with building regulations you loose the internal aspect and what a loss it would be for this magnificent timber structure.  

Friday, 4 March 2011

Food Diary

In my quest to become more healthy and match food intake to my lifestyle, I've found that the best advice is and always will be 'everything in moderation'.  However the recommended 2000 calories per day for woman depends largely on your lifestyle.  I try to keep active but the day to day convenience of modern life keeps me relatively sedentary.  I don't have to walk to work or forage for food, I have a car and I drive to the supermarket once a week.  On this basis I've found that I require fewer calories than the average person.  So I wouldn't say I'm dieting, I enjoy food and I always will but keeping a food diary has helped me appreciate what I eat and made me think more about more healthy options.  After 3 weeks I found that I feel healthier and have more energy than I did before.  Anyway that's my short blog.  I have lost a little weight and I now have a healthy BMI of 22.1.  I don't know if that means anything but it feels good to know.  I shall keep up with my food diary and I would recommend it to you too.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Calorie-counted - First Update

I've never felt the need to go on a diet.  I'm average height of an average build - not especially thin but not overweight.  Just average.  Until almost 4 years ago when I gave birth to my first child (I say first, so far he is my only child).  During pregnancy I felt I had a licence to eat much more food, unfortunately this increased appetite never faded and I continued to eat more than I had before.  I wouldn't say now that I'm fat, but I am noticeably heavier.  It wasn't until I happened to weight myself last autumn that I noticed I was approaching 10 stone.  This signalled alarm bells - not immediately but I thought to myself I don't want to tip 10 stone.

So its now February and I thought I would try watching what I eat.  Well this has to be one of the most difficult self inflicted challenges I've ever undertaken.  I have literally become obsessed with what I eat.  I downloaded an app for my phone which decided, based on the information I put in, that I should restrict my calorie intake to just 1200 per day, equating to shedding 1 lb per week.  Its only day 5! I've had very little in the way of unhealthy snacks and I'm certainly eating more fruit and vegetables.  But going from eating whatever I liked whenever I liked regardless of how good it was, to just 1200 calories per day is hard work.

This is a chart of my current progress after 5 days with calories on the side and days along the bottom   In terms of how I feel:
  • I seem to have developed backache 
  • I feel generally irritable (this maybe because I've opted to cut out coffee)
  • Hungry!
So far I don't appear to have shed any weight particularly.  I can see why most people don't stick to diets - bodies are slow to react to change!  But I thought I would record my progress on blogger as a personal record of my progress.

Wish me luck - any tips, encouragement or advice would be welcome.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Brachial Plexus - just a pain in the neck?

Having suffered with, what I can only describe as, tense headaches for most of my adult life on a regular and frequent basis and visited the doctors every few years only to be fobbed off with the usual GP baloney. I decided to do some research of my own, web-based of course. Knowing, from an x-ray I had some years ago, that I have a bisected rib that extends into my neck/shoulder area, I studied some muscular and skeletal diagrams of the neck and shoulders in order to identify parts of the body that could be the cause of some underlying problems. I have been increasingly suffering from neck and shoulder pain at the point close to where I have this unusual rib. This led me to the Brachial Plexus. For those lay-people like me that is a cluster of nerves running from the top of the spine, down the neck, through the shoulder blade and down the arm to the hand. Apparently pressure on these can cause pain in the wrist sometimes associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.  Whilst I have never been diagnosed, wrongly or otherwise, with carpal tunnel syndrome or had particular pains in my wrist for that matter, the information I have found sounds reasonable.  Now I'm not the kind of person who reads about an illness and immediately thinks I have it and I'm certainly not a hypochondriac so it pains me to tell you something so bizarre but I have concluded, albeit by sleuth and self-diagnosis, that I may have Cervical Brachial Syndrome thanks to the help of a Neck Pain Support Blog.  The blog helpfully provides some simple techniques and exercises to help relieve the symptoms so that's what I have been doing - they are not difficult and you can do them anywhere and they do feel quite nice and relieving.  

If you're having problems with pain in your neck, shoulder or arms and wrists then it may be as a result of pressure in the brachial plexus so try these simple exercises and if you sit at a desk most of the day, like me, then make sure it is set up correctly and take regular breaks.  That's it.  If that doesn't work then I wish you better luck with your GP than I have had with mine.

Monday, 14 June 2010


I haven't done a blog in a long time so I thought I would share a good book.  I am currently reading a 'The Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England' by Ian Mortimer.   I've not enjoyed a book quite so much since my last Bill Bryson (Made in America). It really opens up the world of 14th century England in way I never thought about before.  Not that I have ever spent much time thinking about life in the 14th century but here are a few choice quotes:

" ...a society in which men are led to believe that their wives are constantly aching to have sex as often as they can. At the same time women are led to believe that they are the physical manifestations of lust, and that their wombs will suffocate with excess seed unless they have sex regularly"

"Consider the medical practice of John Mirfield, a priest and advisor at St Bartholomew's Hospital London at the end of the century.   He advises he fellow physicians that, if they wish to know whether a patient might survive or not, they should follow this procedure: Take the name of the patient, the name of the messenger sent to summon you, and the name of the day upon which the messenger first came to you; join all their letters together, and if an even number result, the patient will not escape; if the number is odd, he will recover".

"Like everyone else monks do not eat any flesh on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, nor in Advent or Lent.  In addition they are not supposed to eat meat of four-legged animals at all, according to the rule of St Benedict.  However St Benedict lived a long time ago - in the sixth century - and over the subsequent eight hundred years, monks all over Christendom have found ways to circumvent the rule".  "And the rule states only that they should not eat meat in the refectory...Consequently, many monasteries have built a second dining room called the 'misericord' (place of mercy) where meat-eating can take place.  Also, although eating quadrupeds is banned, there is nothing in the rule specifically against eating offal, which is removed from an animal prior to roasting it.  Realising that all is not wholly within the spirit of the rule, but realising also that he cannot stand in the way of progress, Benedict XII suggests a compromise.  As long as at least half of the monks eat in the refectory, the remainder can head off to the misericord and gorge themselves on whatever they choose, provided it is not Wednesday, Friday or Saturday or a day in Advent or Lent.  Those who remain in the refectory must refrain from eating the flesh of quadrupeds but may eat fowl and can include meaty ingredients - such as liver from the offal in the cooking"

The last thing you expect with a history book is to be chuckling away (actually now I come think of it Bryson's history books are very funny) but Mortimer highlights the ridiculous scenarios medieval people find themselves in and the contrast in beliefs, understanding and general way of life...well we've just come along way in 600 years.  Certainly a lot further and a lot faster than the preceding 600 years.  This wasn't meant to be any kind of book review I was just enjoying the book so much that I though I would share a few extracts.  It is well worth a read and it contains some great medieval images.

Monday, 25 January 2010


Thanks to Dilbert (Scott Adams) I am now desperate to have a wattvision sensor in my house.  It just seems to make perfect sense.  We are a household of increasing gadgets and I think this would allow us to take control of our carbon footprint and save money.  I thought blogging and tagging would add more weight to the case of getting the UK energy suppliers on board with this kind of technology.  Who knew my cartoon friend Dilbert would lead me here?  It just goes to show the power of blogging, tweeting, social networking and tagging; it certainly beats word-of-mouth.  Have a look at wattvision here and let me know if you agree with me on this.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Legend of Zelda - the ocarina of time

Ah - this brings back memories - what a classic game.  Team Teamwork Presents The Ocarina of Ryhme. Worth a listen here.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


Another attempt at High Speed Filming - Fireworks now theres some fast paced action.  What do you think?  Again I've used Dan Arborise Days Even Years as I think it works really well.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Clive James

I remember nothing so funny as watching Clive James on TV when I was little.  Every time I hear him speak or read anything he's written I'm always entertained by his humour, observations or depth of knowledge on a subject.  The other day I came across a BBC news article from his weekly column and I thought it was so good that I had to link to it on my blog.  There's nothing like a fallen celebrity to hook you in to a story and the 'so true' description of Nicholas Cage had me laughing: "Nobody will be left desperate by the career of Nicolas Cage except those who have been unfortunate enough to see his movies, in all of which he pops his eyes with his wet mouth half open, looking exactly like a man who wants to buy Windsor castle and employ the tenants as ground staff".  Is it just me or does everybody hear Clive James in their head when they read it?  But the article is much more insightful and wide-ranging than I could ever give him credit for here.  So I'll just let you go and read it. 

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Good Advice

Since first hearing Baz Luhrmann's Everybody's free (to wear sunscreen) about 10 years ago - and absolutely loving it, I was pleased to see those inspirational words of Mary Schmich (Chicago Tribune column in 1997) being used in a recent anti-bullying campaign: 'Bullyproof'.  It made me listen again to that song and it really is beautiful:

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked….

You’re not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra quation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing everyday that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium.
Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own..
Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on.
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard;
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen…

Saturday, 21 November 2009

follow me on twitter

Since giving up facebook - and vowing to leave social networking sites for good, I'm now on twitter.  It's not quite as exciting as I thought and I've yet to read anything funny or particularly interesting.  I'm on twitter here

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Life in Slow Motion

Not a Plug for the delightfully beautiful music but just some inspirational footage of a trapped moth filmed in high speed.   The music incidentally is by Dan Aborise called Days even years.  The film is by me. Enjoy. 

More baking

More baking on my day off.  This time I made muffin size fairy cakes.  You can see a normal size cake on the far right of the photo.  I also baked a ham and had ham and pease pudding with roast potatoes for dinner.  I think that meal combination is my favourite meal to eat at the moment.  

Do you like pease pudding?  Let me know any tips on this real feel-good food.

The cooking and cup-cake decorating tools worked really well.  Butter icing is a good topping to use but I'm starting to get the hang of it.  Colleagues at work have enjoyed the many highly-decorated ginger biscuits I keep taking in to work anyway.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Clothes without lycra... good to anyone. Come on clothes makers someone invented it for a reason. Use it!
And now I've just looked it up. Joseph Shivers I applaud you for this marvellous invention.


Today I felt like getting into the Christmas spirit.  I did some baking with my son and we made a gingerbread family and put together and decorated a gingerbread house.  As you can see we're not the most talented decorators in the world but it was great fun.  I think my son munched through more than his fair share of cake decorations and gingerbread men anyway.  The gingerbread daddy on the right of this photo is carefully hiding a few bites out of the roof so now it is no longer something we can share with other people particularly as I look back on the photos at his dribbling nose.

In order to decorate the gingerbread house I purchased a fantastic cake decorating tool and I think you'll agree that it looks great.  Really easy to use especially for children.  Believe me this is not a simple tool especially if you haven't got the mixture just right.  It is either so stiff that you cannot squeeze it out of the tube or its too runny and doesn't hold its shape.  I really think I'm going to have to practice with this a bit more.  I'll let you know if I come up with a good ratio of ingredients.

Well they are pretty tasty and it is such a fun thing to do with children especially if you don't mind the mess and them eating far too much sugar.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Not a Green Roof in sight!

I went on a tourist attraction in Sheffield at the weekend - a giant ferris wheel in the centre of town.  It was a lovely day and you could see, well not quite far and wide due to Sheffield's topography so you couldn't really see beyond any of the 7 hills that make up the landscape of the city, but it was really interesting.  Despite Sheffield having a policy of requiring 80% green roof coverage on new major development in the city I didn't notice any green roofs.  The roofscape [if that's a word] was disappointingly grey.  If you click on the image you get a nice shot of Park Hill in the background. 

Sunday, 4 October 2009


Incy-wincy spider spun its web on a tree
In came the wind and blew poor incy free
down died the wind and out came the sun
now incy-wincy spider its catching flies and having fun.

New Camera

Yey - I got a new camera and I love it. This is an example of the high-speed filming and yes its nothing special but its such an excellent feature. This is a very windy day by the way and its slowed down and captured so you can see the detail. It works better on things that are moving really really fast like popping a champagne cork or a humming bird for example. I din't have either to test it on but the weather was blusterly. I'll work on a better example.