Tuesday 31 March 2009

Quiet start to the week

I'm all for democracy, except when it expects me to participate. My brush with the court system this week (and it really is only a brush) has involved hour upon hour of sitting in the lounge and not being called to sit on a jury panel. This is a whole new level of boredom (which makes things previously labelled as boring totally fascinating) as one is limited in what one can do in as much as whatever one took with one in the morning - mostly (for me) books and Sudoko puzzles with a little 'getting acquainted' with the "New Rules of Measurement" for light relief. Whilst I appreciate that the whole jury selection thing has a process to follow I still cannot shake the feeling of already having wasted two days of my week. Civic duty be damned, I'd rather be at work!

There was a charming moment on my way to the court yesterday, as I walked down the street I passed a house whose youngest inhabitants can only have been watching Mary Poppins at the weekend. The pavement was adorned with chalk picturess, one of which even had an elaborate frame around it! There was also a little glass jar on the wall with dandelions (and other weeds) and a sign which advertised 'Free flowers - please take one'. That made me smile all the way to the bus stop.

Sunday 29 March 2009

Sunday stuff

So last night I managed to wake up from my nap before half past eight and therefore participated in Earth Hour. We switched out all our lights. I didn't see much evidence of participation in the wider community when I looked out my front and back door - but we sat and ate our dinner by the light of the TV (truly a TV dinner)! Check out this video on the BBC to see the lights go out across the globe.

Sunday night also saw the clocks go forward one hour marking the start of British Summer Time. Just when I'd got used to the mornings being that bit brighter. Competing the disturbed night was the Melbourne Grand Prix - finally seeing the return of F1 after the off-season and the much anticipated return of the F1 to the BBC (only anticipated as it means no more ad-breaks at crucial moments!).

I somehow managed to get all my Sunday morning TV done with by lunchtime at which point I was taken by a strange urge to spring-clean the kitchen. This invovled cleaning glass, cupboards, crockery and all sorts. I managed to use about half a pack of Cif Oxy wipes but the kitchen looked better for my efforts.

It'll be a quiet blogging week next week as I'm off to do Jury duty, so I shan't be going anywhere or seeing anything.

Friday 27 March 2009

Free Rice

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Trip to the dentist

This morning saw my long over-due visit to the dentist. Apart from the shame of admitting the length of time elapsed since my last visit (about 10 years) it wasn't too bad. I'd feared an expensive trip involving drilling and fillings; the reality was - excellent teeth but terrible gums. It would appear that the chronic toothache had been caused by swollen gums around my wisdom tooth and nothing more. The expense is to follow as two trips two the hygienist are recommended before my next visit in three months time - but at least no fillings. Hurrah.

My new dentist is just near Westcombe Park station. In a shocking example of un-joined up thinking I had always assumed that Station Road was a cul-de-sac; even though Rich's friend lives about a street away and my brother also lived a couple of blocks away for several years. Coming back from the dentist I walked through the back-streets of Westcombe Park back up to the Standard for onward bus travel.

I was amused to see these signs stencilled on the road in SE3  - not that the pavement remained clear - but probably a better notice than the small signs fixed to lamposts in my street about 7ft in the air!

Spring is arriving at the Royal Standard (although you can't really see the daffodil displays in these pictures). What interests me is that although most of Blackheath and Blackheath Village are in the Borough of Lewisham this little corner of London (which is really Westcombe Park) this roundabout, pub and collection of shops are known as Blackheath Royal Standard (after the pub of the same name). This is pretty universal - except for London's 'talking' buses - which insist on "Charlton Road/Bately Park. Even though the sign by the grass (see photo on left) insists this is Blackheath Royal Standard the buses (and Greenwich Council) disagree. I too kthe photo on the right because I particuarly liked the juxtaposition of the stately Victorian toilets with the modern eye-sore equivalent.

This is the eponymous Royal Standard, whose rebranding in recent years means that most people have no idea why 'The Standard' is so called.

Earth Hour

Time for Earth Hour again. I'd almost forgotten but was reminded by the advertising hoardings in Piccadilly Circus. It is a fantastic initiative and one that I whole-heartedly support... but one can but wonder if it would have been even more effective on a week day rather than a Saturday?

Skywatch Friday (5)

Looks like a weather front is coming

Monday 23 March 2009

Just another Monday

The beautiful fresh spring weather which characterised last week and the weekend finally departed today. In place we were left with some early April showers. It was the sort of wet and blustery day I remember from childhood visits to the beach; at several stops along my way today a kite would not have been out of place! The air was so damp at one point I could almost taste it!

First thing this morning saw a trip to the hosiptal to see the MS Nurse. I always begrudge these appointments somewhat. I know I am lucky to have my MS Nurse whilst many people do not - she is an absolute miracle for me... always helpful and supportive and informative. It is the fact of the visit, which when mingled with the Neuro appointments, neccessitates my presence at the hospital every three months or so. Today went pretty well though. I was the first appointement of the day so they hadn't had time to get behind yet... as I'm seeing the Neuro in about six weeks I didn't need to go and get any bloods done (double bonus as the queue when I walked past was awful). Not a lot to say really. Old medication has finished (thank goodness) but new hasn't started. We did discuss the monster itching and I was told that if the anti-histamines didn't provide sufficient respite there were other options which would control the 'sensory abnormalities'.

Next stop the windy Greenwich Peninsula and a brief trip to B&Q to buy a 'solar oxygenator' for the pond. The water has been looking a ghastly murky colour and the plant life doesn't seem to be resurrecting itself quite as fast as usual. Not enough sun to power the solar charge to see how well it is going to work yet.

It should have then been a quick trip to the library but my local library now doesn't open until after lunmch on a Monday. It  may not be long until I try a different library in the Borough anyway as Charlton House Library is extremely small and I seem to be running out of books that I want to read.

I received a phone call early this morning from my father. I had happend to mention to my mother yesterday that I was suffering from tootache, and knowing me as well as she does it followed that she requested my father to call me and offer to accompany me to the dentist. I thanked him for his kind point (at which point he admitted he was under instruction) and pointed out that as I had yet to register with a dentist it was unlikely that I would be getting an appointment for this end of the week. Having duly registered with the dentist it turns out that you can call in the morning for an 'emergency' same day appoinment so that is what I shall be doing on Friday.

Good things to note: the tootache has settled down into a constant not to agonising ache as opposed to the raging agony of Friday evening, and the supermarket anti-histamines I bought to tide me over until I get my prescription re-filled are doing a good job and the incessant itching as calmed down to very occasional itches. Bad things to note: there are only a couple of doses of Betaferon left and there has been no contact from the Avonex people to come and remind me how to administer it (all I remember is that it is different!); and my memory is having a particularly sluggish day today - whilst talking to the Nurse this morning I spent several seconds completely at a loss for the word to complete my sentence (lucky she guessed what I wanted to say), and it has happened several times sitting here typing. Not that it matters much but it is particularly frustrating and embarrassing.

Oh yeah, and worst thing of all to note - more than likely have to go on a site visit to darkest Suffolk this week (unless I can talk the client out of it). Oh for a site in London, ah well far-flung jobs are better than no jobs at all.

Sunday 22 March 2009

Times they are a changin'

Whilst tidying up my digital photos I found these two photos. Taken a few years apart from almost the same spot down on the Greenwich Peninsula looking at Canary Wharf. The proliferation of high rise construction in only a few years is quite something.

This picture was taken on the deck of the Cutty Sark in Summer 1998 - and that is even stranger to see One Canada Square in lonely spleandour.

I frequently find in Central London that an area which I once was quite familiar with and haven't visited for some time is virtually unrecognisable upon my return!

Saturday 21 March 2009

Birds and bees

Another beautiful spring day today - not quite as warm as recently but still amazing sunshine. I took a brief shopping trip this morning. Two things I wanted - should only take ten minutes. First stop Halfords for a new cycle glove. Not that I ride a bicycle you understand, the handle of The Stick tends to give me blisters after more than about half an hour of continual use, so a fingerless cycling glove with padded palms is the perfect solution. Unfortunately the last one (which was perfect... pink with little flowers) fell to bits from over-use, and of course they no longer make the same style. This time I've gone for serviceable and boring... and very black.

Next stop was PC World. I wanted a converter to turn the USB port in my laptop into a PS/2 port so that I can use the re-chargeable mouse and keyboard. PC World don't sell them anymore so I had to hot-foot it over to Maplin... who did of course have what I wanted. Home just in time to avoid the football traffic.

One of a pair of squirrels playing tag in the tree... and on my bedroom roof!

Some of my neighbour's doves in flight

and taking a break on my bedroom roof

The evil plastic heron finds a home!

Bumblebee collecting nectar

Friday 20 March 2009

Toothace and other irritations

Earlier this week I had an earache. I hate earache as nothing much cures it. Yesterday evening it turned out not to be earache at all but mixed messages in my brain as the pain was actually toothache. Last time I had a tooth it was gone by the time I woke up the next day. Not this time. Still terrible toothache.

Now time for a confession. I'm a terrible grown-up. I don't have a dentist. I can barely even remember the last time I saw a dentist, but I fear it may be ten years ago. The problem is, unlike NHS healthcare which doesn't cost money (well, not directly anyway) NHS dental care does. For the longest time I just couldn't find the money... and when I was finally about to do the grown-up thing and get a dental plan they cut my hours at work and I couldn't afford it again! Anyway, I've found a dentist who is taking NHS patients so I'm calling them tomorrow to schedule appointments for me and Rich (who also has toothache).

As if this isn't enough I've also been suffering this week from the mysterious itch. Mysterious only because my doctor cannot explain it or cure it, only treat it. I take anti-histamines which help it somewhat, but as i hadn't suffered from it any since last year the prescription had run out. Horror. All week I've felt like the rhino in the Just So Stories who itched his skin loose. Mine doesn't come loose though, unless you count the blisters where I itch myself raw. I've tried no eating things, not drinking things, not using fragrences and chemicals. Nothing works. The occasional and unpredictable nature of the itching, coupled with the fact that heat and exercise exacerbate the problem leads me to suspect that the problem is likely neurological in origin. Not that it matters, the itching (head, hands, feet, legs, chest, back... everywhere) has been driving me mad... I've been sleeping with the window open to keep cool... covering myself in E45 itch relief cream... sent the prescription to the doctor and bought some emergency anti-histamines from the supermarket meantime. I'm seeing my MS nurse on Monday so I might bring it up with her.

My final complaint of the day is the supermarket petrol station. They have put a new 'time saving' intiative on all the pumps. A card reader to pay at pump. They held up the whole queue into the station while a perky girl told every customer. What she didn't say was that you had to choose whether to pay at pump or not BEFORE the pump would dispense petrol. I stuck the hose in and waited... and waited... and called over one of the helpers to ask why the pump wasn't working. You have to choose he told me... clearly they need a bigger sign to tell you that... or perhaps perky should have been telling people. I was by no means the only one either. The solution... PA system operated from inside calling out "Pump Four mumble mumble mumlbe" - very helpful. My ten minute stop for gas took twice that... and I only go to the Sainsbury to get loyalty points - Asda is usually a penny cheaper!

I've just noticed whilst I've been writing this... the clove chewing might have been vile but the toothache has subsided from total agony to bearable pain. Full marks for cloves!

Garden of England

I went down to visit my recently retired father today. My parents still live in Kent where I grew up. Beautiful Kent, known as the Garden of England. Dad and I took advantage of the spring sunshine, first sitting in their garden and watching the local bird population (two collared doves, a shy robin and an extremely aggressive blackbird) and then after lunch with a walk in the countryside.

A view over West Kent and the rolling countryside

A recently dammed stream makes a new pond

A butterfly and a robin enjoying the spring sunshine

A treehouse!

High-rise molehills!

Skywatch Friday (4)

Every cloud really does have a silver lining!

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Love notes

Our house is at the end of the street, and for some reason we seem to get a lot of other people's rubbish blown into our front driveway. On way to work I found some rubbish which differed from the usual take-out cartons and leaves from next door's tree

There were several of these sheets of paper up the front path and in the street... spreading a message of love!

Monday 16 March 2009

Spring is sprung

The weather in SE7 this afternoon is glorious, mild and sunny - a perfect spring day. I'm not the only one who thinks so either... whilst enjoying the sunshine I noticed a huge amount of birds, insects and amphibians also enjoying the sunshine.

The cherry tree and other plant life herald the arrival of spring!

"Big fat pigeon" half of one of several pairs of collared doves, taking up residence in the 'berry tree' a home and source of food all in one!

Even the sinister looking rooks are not immune... I first noticed them calling to each other from two separate trees, and then they got together in the same tree (before on fell of the far too small branch!).

This tree is full of birds - if you look carefully you might see a beak poking out... that is certainly what our neighbour's cat was doing (from the safety of the fence).

And not forgetting the frogs, who seem to have started their frog-spawn acitivies in earnest!

Saturday 14 March 2009

Dancing rainbows

Until I lived in this house I never had a bedroom which got enough sun to allow me to have dancing rainbows. Now I have seven crystals... and a mirror on the opposite wall to help. I was just about to draw the curtains and get into bed for my 'cat-nap' (or maybe it is a late siesta!) when I noticed a riot of rainbows across the ceiling.

As a child a read a book called 'Pollyanna' - the little girl in the book always made the best of every situation by playing 'the Glad Game'... the point of which is always finding the silver lining. It's not a mental attitude that comes easily to me... I'm more a glass-half-empty kind of gal... but I challenge anyone not to be cheered by dozens of dancing rainbows!

Amphibian nursery

All the emergency pond work has been worth it, Jaws might be the only fish left, but the frogspawn is now being laid. If I open the bedroom window I can hear one of the bull-frogs in the middle of the pond advertising for a mate. Frogs are such clich├ęs... not only do they actually sit on lily pads when they get a chance, but they also go 'gribbit'.

Friday 13 March 2009

Go fish!

These are my fish (well some of them) left to right CJ, Sam, Danny and Abby. The tank was cleaned yesterday so everything looks particulary bright and colourful!

You can just see the fifth fish here, T'ealc. T'ealc and Sam are shubunkin and Abby, CJ and Danny are goldfish.

Abby is admiring herself in the glass behind the wall of bubbles! Give them a few more days and they will have unearthed the airstone!

This picture was taken back when we first had CJ and Danny (in a much smaller tank) - yes, they were actually goldfish!