Sunday 31 July 2011

Playing games

In my house (unless you want to get down one of the board games or chess sets) there are four ways to play games.

First (my favourite) the Xbox 360 - I currently own over 30 games - ranging from RPG (Assassins Creed and Fable) to quasi-platform games; Spyro, Sonic and the Lego games - and a few more besides. I can easily spend a whole day attached to the Xbox. I am limited only by when my hands seize up!

Second (the most inadvertently time-sapping) internet games. There are dozens of games sites which do nothing but serve you games; the ones I use most are probably, Kongregate and Shockwave. I discovered these when I was laid up in bed with an MS relapse and couldn't do much but lie there with my laptop for company. Just be warned - a lot of these games are addictive! 

Then there are the games that Facebook serves you up - Farmville is probably the most famous. Once upon a time just a side-line for those with some time on their hands these have now become big business for companies. There is so much you can do for free but nearly every iteration of these games has some in game currency which translates to actual money IRL (in real life).

At first it was a few items here and there, but profit is profit. Those hardest hit are probably those who play most; those with little money and a lot of time - the retired, the long-term sick, the unemployed and the stay at home parents. There hasn't been enough of a backlash against these companies who have forgotten who got them where they are.

Third are the Smartphones. There is an iPhone and and Android in this house. Waiting for a late train or sitting in a cafe waiting for a friend it is an easy way to pass five or ten minutes. I favour strategy games, and Shredder has been teaching me (kind of) to play chess.

Lastly (and slightly forgotten these days) are the portable games consoles. I have had a succession of Nintendo offerings (from the Gameboy to the DS) and the better half has the Sony PSP. Somewhat superseded by the Smartphone they are the ultimate for lying on the sofa and doing nothing but gaming - the screens are larger than a phone and the games more involved.

So - now we know why things such as tidying my desk and sorting through junk mail never get done!

Saturday 30 July 2011

I've been reading...

The advent of my Kindle has done great things for my book consumption. Up until Christmas (when I got the Kindle) most of my books (apart from holiday reads) came from the Library - or Christmas and Birthday presents. The presents are great as they are always (unsurprisingly) the books I want to read. The library does its best... but Charlton House is a baby library (probably smaller than the downstairs of my house) and it doesn't have many books and even fewer that I want to read. Yes, I could go to other branches in the borough, but then I have to travel and that is just a nuisance.

So, enter the Kindle. First great thing, loads of free (or very cheap) books. Not just classics but contemporary stuff too. Second great thing, you have your whole library with you wherever you go. I like to read more than one book at once (usually at least two or three) now I never have to choose which to take, they're all there.

Here are a few of the books I have finished recently:

What Amazon says: "Do parallel worlds exist? Searching for proof, Professors Rodger & Cassie Swift vanish. Kestrelle, a spirit girl claiming to know their fate, tells their son Braden he must brave a whitewater, tooth-sprouting river into a land where wise vultures predict the future and blue minds inhabit lava caves. Only two powers can help: Kestrelle's Blood Thorn and Braden's vine-painted guitar."

Although on first glance it seems a fairy story the focus is on Braden and Kestrelle and the difficult choices they have to make. I gave it 4 out of 5.

Wrongful Death: The AIDS TrialWrongful Death: The AIDS Trial
The first of two books by Stephen Davis I actually read them the wrong way round. These books challenge everything that anyone of my age has been brought up to think about HIV and AIDS. the books might be fiction but the science behind them is real; it certainly makes you think. See also "Are You Positive by Stephen Davis".

Both of these books are currently free from various places on the internet for you Kindle (or other e-reader).

Thursday 28 July 2011

Long evenings

King Frog (although without Fat Friend)

Toad on the move

One of the fox triplets in the middle of a game

Fabulous Summer evening

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Roses from Ecuador

A new shop has just opened up in the smallest kiosk next to the Holiday Inn on Berkeley Street.

Over the years there has been a men's clothing shop, a whisky shop and a branch of Leban Eats .

Now we have Only Roses. The petals look like pure velvet and the scent is gorgeous. I'm waiting for an excuse to buy some!

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Wrong day... week is now utterly confused by a trip to Oxfordshire on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. I will now spend the rest of the week panicking there is a day less than there actually is. I shared my breakfast (almost literally) with this pigeon who didn't even wait for me to leave the table before he came looking for crumbs!

Monday 25 July 2011

All to quickly...'s Monday again! Nice to be welcomed home by the cats - being where cat's ought not be

Sunday 24 July 2011

Sunday afternoon in the sun

After watching the German Grand-Prix (excellent win for Hamilton) the Better-Half was watching Celtic play, and as it was such a glorious afternoon I took Tinker for a walk in the garden. We both enjoyed the sunshine, and were both exhausted by the time we finished. I was pleased to see my sunflowers are almost ready to flower.

Tinker flaked out on the blanket box to recover and I spent some quality time with the Xbox. Just your average Sunday really.

Friday 22 July 2011

Trip to North London

Cabbies famously don't go 'Sarf of the River' - apart from going to work, I don't go North. Today my Mother and I took a trip round the North Circular (and a few other places) to go and see my Great-Aunt (who will soon be 100). After a few arguments with the SatNav (programmed by me) we eventually reached our destination to partake of tea and biscuits and some reminiscing with old family photos.

After this we went to Brent Cross, a frequent destination in my childhood when we lived in Hampstead. It looked the same from the outside but the inside was barely recognisable, not surprising I suppose after 30 years. 

The most disappointing thing was the wooden play animals next to Waitrose were gone. And lunch in the Orangery no longer possible as the Orangery is gone.

We enjoyed some window shopping though - including some impractical moments drooling over shoes in Kurt Geiger and taking in a very peculiar shop Robot Bunny (see right).

We then took a trip down memory lane, driving past our old house, my first school and my Mother's first flat in London. By this time, of course, it was Friday rush hour so it was a very long trip home!

Even though I borrowed a wheelchair from Shopmobility I was still exhausted by the day out.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Another Birthday

Chocolate cake for breakfast again. The Better-Half's birthday only four days after mine. I didn't go for candles but the 'cake fountain' we used at my Granny's 90th. I'm lazy and don't like lighting candles!

Then it was off to work for me, although happily as it's Thursday that is the end of the week for me.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Off to Oxfordshire (again)

Sharing my early morning coffee at 'The Lawn' with some indoor pigeons!

I do like Paddington Station - the modernity of 'The Lawn' juxtaposed with the soaring splendour of Brunel's station.

It is a bit like an airport with trains advertised gradually from "on time" (you hope), to "preparing" and finally "boarding".

Tuesday 19 July 2011

My journey home

The Queen's Garden Party - in the rain

Much to my annoyance road closed - for Volleyball!

Monday 18 July 2011

Back to work

But I've got my fluffy butterfly pens my nearly-mother-in-law got me to cheer me up.

Sunday 17 July 2011


A day of much chocolate cake and presents! Rich ran out of candles, sadly I am older than the candles state.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Cat perches

Three... Tinker in places where Tinker shouldn't be.

Friday 15 July 2011

Kitten time

Another Friday playing with the cats. Tinker has decided that the camera strap is a good thing to play with!

Thursday 14 July 2011

Safety glass

Glasses in our office have a short shelf life. They get broken in the washing up, chipped, dropped or knocked over.

A new crop just having been purchased I didn't want to be responsible for any more accidents; so I purchased myself a plastic glass!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Google Doodle

The 200th Anniversary of the birthday of George Gilbert Scott. Prolific architect, perhaps best known for the gorgeous hotel at St Pancra (shown in this doodle).

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Money money money

I am having a falling out with one of my credit card providers. It is, apparently, all the Government's fault for some new guidelines that they have brought in.

I have read the back of the credit card statements and I am none the wiser.

Credit Card A, to whom I owe a reasonable but not excessive amount of money want a payment about a pound less than last month... although they will be charging about a pound more intereset.

Credit Card B, to whom I owe just under double what I owe Credit Card A want a payment of nearly £10 more this month although they are going to charge £4 less interest.

Every credit card I have ever met, and I have met a few as one of my providers kept getting sold, it has been the case that even if you only pay the minimum payment it gradually goes down each month. Never up... not when you aren't even using the card.

When I phoned to complain I was told that the new calculations meant that I would pay my balance off more quickly. I pointed out that I might not be able to afford the spiralling payments (given I only work part-time) - but the customer service adviser kept parroting the party line "You'll pay the balance off faster".

Nanny state. Surely it is for me to decide if I want to pay it off faster. Surely I'd make more than the minimum payment if I wanted that. Meddling government. I'm not sure how this helps anyone. If you have a credit card calculating interest and payments you certainly won't use it. You will have less cash to spend in the shops as your bills have gone up. So how is this helping consumer spending and revitalising the economy?

My credit cards are staying where they are. Locked in a box and not getting used - and one day, one day, I'll have them paid off.

Monday 11 July 2011


July is the month for birthdays. I know more people in July with birthdays than any other month. Starting on the first day of the month, one of my colleagues; with 'born on the 4th of July' and my friend's little boy next; this is followed by another friend's son; an old school friend and an ex-colleague 3 days apart; my father-in-law (at the end of this week); followed two days later by my own, which I share with my god-daughter; then the daughters of two more friends on adjacent days; my better-half; another old school friend; a friend's husband and to round off the month my nearly-mother-in-law. That is a lot of cards to remember to post, or texts and emails to send, or phone calls to make. Lucky I have an app for that!

Sunday 10 July 2011

Day of rest

My great-grandfather was a gardener. Not just the pottering in the garden on a Sunday type - but a professional, a horticulturist really.

One of the thing he did was cultivating new types of fuchsias; which he then named after the women in his life.

I already have my hardy Phyllis (named for my Gran) which has wintered several years happily next to my peace rose. As a thank you gift, following her party, Gran gave me Constance, named for Great-Aunt Connie.

Saturday 9 July 2011

90th Birthday Party

Table decorations           by nat_mach
Table decorations , a photo by nat_mach on Flickr.

Today family and friends gathered for lunch to celebrate my Grandmother's 90th Birthday. Over a month of marshalling and rallying the troops - but it was worth it because she had a wonderful day!

Friday 8 July 2011

Blogger in draft

Since I can't remember when I've used Blogger in draft. On one occasion I switched back when the photo-uploader wouldn't work properly. I've always been a fan. Blogger in draft has had a face-lift. I'm loving it! (click on  screen-shots for larger images).
Screen-shot 1

You are greeted on the dashboard  with a list of your blogs (screen-shot 1).

Each with information showing total number of posts and interestingly page views.

The pencil button takes you to the 'post' page and the house button is a drop down menu.

Click on your blog's name and you'll be taken to an overview page (screen-shot 2).

This shows you information including followers, page views, etc. As well as the news from Blogger and Blogs of Note (which we all aspire to!).

The posts button will give you a list of your posts including information on views and comments (screen-shot 3).

Yes. It is all very white. It is a bit space out and maybe the text could be a bit larger... but the usefulness of everything accessible in one place can't be denied.

Stats from the left hand menu gives you this page (screen-shot 4).

There seems to be some interaction with Google Analytics taking place here as a lot of the layout will look familiar to anyone who uses that service!

Here you can find out everything about your visitors - where they came from, what browser they are using... you have the choice of now, day, week, month and all time.
My service seems to go back to 2009 - so I can see the most popular post since then.

Last we get to the post page (screen-shot 5).

The toolbar hasn't changed other than the compose/html switch has moved from right to left. All the options which used to be below the post necessitating screen-scrolling on my lap-top are now on the right. The publish button is now to be found at the top of the page next to the save button.

So far I've made several posts with no issues... everything has been much easier to use.

Oh, and for those who once coded in their own favicon only to find that somehow the code didn't work anymore and you still got the orange 'B' - on the layout page there is now an option for setting your own favicon.

All in all I'm one satisfied blogger.
Screen-shot 2
Screen-shot 3
Screen-shot 4
Screen-shot 5

Thursday 7 July 2011

London still remembers

6 years later, London still remembers the victims of the 7/7 bombings.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

On the mend

At last! Feeling better... can sit up and everything. Back to work tomorrow then. I shall miss the kitten love!

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Stuck in bed

Still in bed, still lying on my back, still hurts to sit up. Very bored. Thank goodness for kitten love!

Monday 4 July 2011

Health issues

Back to bed (again) due to severe but undiagnosed pain in my side (you can read about my day here). Only relief is lying down flat. Wow the ceiling is boring! As Twitter would say health #fail.

Sunday 3 July 2011

Things that break

First the printer decided to give up the ghost. Doubly annoying as my little one was already refusing to talk to my laptop so that left us printer-less.

Happily the rather nice wireless model we got was on sale so it didn't break the bank.

The toaster also decided to cease to function this week. Popping bread out barely toasted all over the place. New toaster rather more expensive than I wanted... one problem I was in Bluewater which has a dearth of electrical shops and second problem the toaster has to have a little pop up rack to toast things to big to go inside. It also has to be small as our kitchen isn't very large. Happily this rather attractive matt black model fits the bill.

What the with broken camera and the kettle last month it hasn't been a good time for electrical appliances.

Saturday 2 July 2011

Shopping trip

Bluewater this afternoon with my mum for some shopping and some lunch. First outing for the wheelchair too.

Friday 1 July 2011

Nature in town

Fletching Road is a short little street in Charlton - it doesn't really go anywhere and runs along the back of the shops in The Village so it doesn't have the best views... some unexpected little pieces of nature though!