Thursday 29 May 2014

Technology fail

I love my iphone.  Don't get me wrong, I find it so useful and easy to work and I love that it links to my ipad and it's like having a mini computer in my handbag.  But I do have to accept it's limitations.  I thought my most major issue with it was autotext.  Or rather, me being too lazy to fully check a message before sending it, so 'if' becomes 'of', 'love' becomes 'live' and on one strange occasion our friend Richard became 'Shagsy'.
But, oh dear iphone, I have discovered something far worse than autotext.  Voice recognition.  I first realised it was unreliable when out on a dog walk one day.  I'd gone out without my glasses, after all, I was on a walk, I don't need glasses to see where I'm going.  But I received a message while I was out and with very squintly eyes and holding the phone at extreme arms length I could work out what it said.  It was a question that needed answering but without glasses, I couldn't trust myself and autotext to be accurate.  So I pressed and held the microphone button and spoke the reply.  A sentance came up on the screen and with those same squinty eyes and extreme arms length I could see that it wasn't right so I had to wait until I got home.  Clearly this is a feature that needs double checking too.
But this is nothing compared to what happened a week or so back.  See, my daughter was going to stay at my sister's holiday home in Portugal and I was pretty sure that the house was full of English-Portuguese plug adaptors and she wouldn't need to take any of her own.  But I thought I ought to check.  So I sent my sister a text.  About plug adaptors.  I typed it with my own fingers.  Autotext did not kick in.  Fine.  But while waiting for her reply, I must have accidentally pressed that microphone button again.  I must have been having a very random conversation with my husband.  And clearly iphone language is very different to mine.  Because this is what I saw it had picked up when I next looked at my phone
I laughed and showed it to him.  And you know what he picked up on first?  Arsenal.  He's a Spurs fan - why would we have been talking about buying Arsenal?

Friday 23 May 2014

Girls weekend

I'm hoping that it's going to be a quiet, relaxing weekend over here in Deb's World.
You see, it's just me and the dog here.  With a daughter in Portugal and a son and husband walking part of Hadrian's Wall, me and Coco are left to our own devices.  'Are you sure you'll be ok on your own?' asked the husband. 'Oh, Mum, I don't like to think of you there on your own.' said the daughter. It did not take much to sound convincing when I said that I was, actually, quite looking forward to it! 
We have plans, of course we do.  Favourite meals, favourite drinks, reading in bed as long as we want, total control of tv programmes, sewing, cooking ... why would anyone think we weren't looking forward to it? 
My one concern is the furry company that I have.  She's a creature of habit.  She does not like change and she's a stickler for routines.  Which is a shame because my husband takes her for much longer walks than I do so I know she won't be impressed by the routes I have planned which are shorter than normal.  The other thing is, and I wonder if any other dog owners have experienced this, she's been know to 'howl' in her sleep occasionally. It's weird but both times she's done it have been when my husband has been away.  And it's such a spooky noise.  She's fast asleep, and she just throws back her head and howls like a wolf.  If she does it this weekend, she's in big trouble and he will never be allowed to go away again because it is scary! So, rule one: no howling.
Now I have a confession to make and I know that once I have put it out here on my blog I will have to follow through and deal with it.  You see, whilst not massively overweight, my weight is slowly creeping back to what it was when I started going to Rosemary Conley classes years ago.  Inspired by my friend who has lost 3 stone (Yes, THREE stone - she's been such a good girl) I have decided to join Slimming World this week.  It's half term, and I can go to a daytime class to start with.  I can have my weekend of favourite foods and drinks before I have to step away from the chocolate.  So there it is.  Eeek - now I have to go or you will all know!  I only want to lose about half a stone but I need a bit of inspiration as I have gradually crept up to 9 stone and at 5ft 1in that's about my limit.  So, wish me luck, and I will keep you informed.
I'm planning to get the next quilt square made for the friendship quilt (whilst still stalking the postman for my own squares!) and with no husband around to moan about sewing machines on dining room tables and fabric off cuts all over the place - maybe I'll even get the one that is due after that too!
I am also ticking off the days for Rinda to announce the photos we need to find for the Scavenger Hunt this year.  So maybe I'll use the weekend to sort out how I'm going to save them this year.  In the last couple of years I've made a small album to display them so I need to get my thinking cap back on. 
So who knows, this weekend could also see the return of the scrapbooking supplies!
It's Bank holiday here in the UK so a nice long weekend.  And for those of us who work in schools, that's followed by a week of half term holiday.  Hope you all have a good weekend too. 

Monday 19 May 2014

Stortford's got talent

Firstly I need to give a big shout out to a local boy who is destined for good things!  You may never have heard of him before but trust me, you will have heard some of the songs he has written.  One Direction's 'Best song ever' and The Wanted's 'All time low'.  Now he's hoping to be known for singing his own songs and this weekend performed on Britain's Got Talent

I really wish him all the best, he clearly does have talent so fingers crossed.

Another local(ish) guy who is doing well is Sam Smith who went to school here although comes from one of the neighbouring villages.  He was on the Graham Norton show this week and is touring the country at some BIG venues.  When you think how many people are out there hoping to make it big, it's so good to hear of local successes.

But of course the talent that I'm so proud of is my friend from work - as from tomorrow her book will be on sale in UK, US and Canada.  Each one looking a bit different
 Apparently book cover styles vary quite dramatically around the world and what has shelf appeal in the UK wouldn't be chosen in the US.  Who knew?
 And how cool are the page edges in the Canadian edition?  I have never seen that before.  See the edges of the cover, with the little flaps so you can bookmark where you are up to?  How clever.  Whilst I have several bookmarks, I guarantee I can never find one when I want it and end up using old receipts to mark where I am up to.  Do you ever fold down the corner of the page you are on?  I really don't like that, I have to find something, anything, to put into the book!
So even though my namesake in the book is 'overly chatty' with 'quite a thing for younger men' I love that I am in the book and touched that I am included in the acknowledgements
So when these three are all rich and famous, remember, you heard it here first!


Saturday 17 May 2014

Simply a Moment in May

As soon as I walk through the front door I can hear the familiar theme tune coming from the lounge.  "Did no one tell you life was gonna be this way? ..." I take off my coat and shoes, put my keys in the dish on the table and know that when I go in there Joey will be doing that cheeky smile: 'How you doin'?' Chandler will be emphasising certain words: 'Could that BE any more annoying?' and Rachel will have some impeccable hairstyle that everyone wants to copy.
Re-runs of Friends.  How many times have we seen each episode? Literally dozens, yet it is one of those shows that can be watched, over and over again.  It's been an integral part of recovery around here.  Something amusing, something comfortable that doesn't need any effort to enjoy.  I wonder if, in some way, knowing what is coming next is half of the appeal.
The patient is laying in her usual place, cushions plumped up behind her, quilt across her lap, magazines, phone and glass of water in easy reach on the coffee table.  I see that the painkillers are still in the same place I left them.  A good sign; when she was first discharged from hospital she was taking the maximum dose at the most frequent intervals.  She's like me, we do not take painkillers unless we absolutely have to and so the fact that they have been untouched means that things are bearable today.
When she arrived in this world 27 years ago as a 5lb 10oz baby she was so tiny and so fragile; I felt an overwhelming urge to take care of her and protect her as best I could. She's taller than me and a grown woman now, yet I still feel those strong maternal feelings of needing to put right anything that hurts her.
She turns to look over her shoulder 'Oh hi Mum.  How was work?' 'Well, really busy but not too bad.' I reply. She doesn't need to know that I was begrudging every minute I spent there,  checking my phone regularly, anxious to get home to check up on her. 'Cup of coffee?' She smiles and nods and I go into the kitchen, back into protective Mum mode.  Secretary in a school office may be the job I'm paid to do, but my real vocation is here at home.
Linking up with Alexa to share Simply a Moment.   

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Push up Bra Blogging - Alumni view

I was somewhat intrigued by Julie's blog course last year 'Push Up Bra Approach To Blogging'.  You've got to admit that, just like a push up bra, it does grab the attention!  So as a graduate of the course I thought I'd do a quick post to explain what I got out of following the course.
When you think about it, starting a blog is a bit like getting your first bra.  When I was a teenager, all the cool shops like Chelsea Girl and Miss Selfridge had communal changing rooms.  Oh no, we had no privacy - everything was on show and up for comparison!  A bit like publishing your first post on the internet.  So, starting your blog, you're that shy girl hiding modestly in the corner - in your sensible, no frill undies.  You look around, blog hopping, and there are all manner of bras blogs out there.  Some are prettier than yours, some have more fancy bits, some have more direction and some are full on va-va-voom Wonderbrablogs.  You don't want to be Miss Sensible any more, you want to be rounding up that blog, showing it off and pointing it in the right direction.  What you're looking for is a more experienced blogger to show you what you can do to make the most of your assets.  Quite frankly, you need Julie.
It's kind of ironic that having featured in the first two posts of the push up bra course, McFly have since joined forces with another band are now known as McBusted! I digress ...
So did the course affect my blogging?  Am I two sizes bigger and altogether more of an eyeful?  Well, maybe not, but I do find that I am able to structure my posts.  I've found a few memes that I enjoy: 'One photo - twenty words' and 'Sit and have a cup of tea' with Abi,  'Simply a Moment' with Alexa, (although I think from her last post that this may be coming to an end), and of course  'My Month in Numbers' with Julie. I like the structure of knowing where in the month these posts are coming and even if all else fails, I know I have at least four posts sorted during the month!  I like the companionship of getting to know the other bloggers that join in the same themes too.
I use an app called Collect which makes a collage out of daily photos.  I like it because it makes me take (at least) one photo a day to make into a photo diary so I can easily see what the month has held when I do My Month in Numbers.  This makes it easy to draft out a post for that meme mid way through the month and add to it. 
Which brings me to David Tennant aka Doctor Who.  So you're in the tardis with David {I can think of worse places to be ;-)} You've got your blog posts drafted and almost ready to go.  It may be a post you wrote weeks ago, but who's to know it isn't fresh out of the keyboard?  You can time travel back and forth.  Getting in that tardis is great for jotting down ideas for a post that you aren't quite ready to write properly.  Then when the time is right ... just get back in, press a few buttons, go back and get it, make a few amendments and hit publish. No one knows when you wrote it, it may not be 'new' to you, but it is to your readers.  It's a secret between you and David.
So I think that I have underwired my blog.  I don't feel 'oh my goodness I haven't written anything for ages, what on earth shall I blog about' because I know that I can pop in that tardis and find ideas that I've jotted down.  Some may never make it to publication but quite often I find the basis of a new post that just needs a bit of fine tuning. 
So that's what I learnt from changing to my Push Up Bra approach to Blogging.  Did you try it last year or are you ready to take the plunge now?   

Monday 12 May 2014

Onto other things

So, remember that 1000th post give away? Well now I know the parcel has arrived I can share what I sent 
I found the pattern for this in a patchwork magazine and have now made a couple of them, in fact one found it's way to Deb as an early birthday/extra gift to go with the Friendship Quilt Block.  I needed an excuse to use up a little bit of turtle fabric!

So the other news is about my friend's book. If you find yourself in a US book store after May 20 keep an eye out for this 
It was so weird to read this, as the setting for most of the book is 100% the town in which I live!  Great Bishopsford is a made up name but it's not far away from the real one.  The restaurant in the first chapter?  That is actually a pub in a nearby village.  It's situated on a bend at the bottom of a hill and as soon as I read it, I could imagine looking out of the restaurant window and seeing the scene unfold.  The railway station, and the journey into town from London?  Totally ours.  The walk up to the cemetary?  Exactly the same as it really is. Of course for me it was fun to notice the names of the characters as they are borrowed from people I know.  So weird to read your own name in a book and be listed at the back in the Acknowledgements!  So if you are looking for a holiday read, why not give it a go?

Sunday 11 May 2014

What a difference a week makes

Last Sunday Rachel spent the weekend in London with her boyfriend. Lazy walks to St Katherine's Docks, lunch outside, drinks with friends in the evening. Preparing to fly out to Barcelona on Thursday on a hen weekend ...
This weekend she's spent 98% of her time in a laying down position! eating bland food and very little of it and those prosecco cocktails have been swapped for glasses of plain water.
There have been flowers 

And get well cards and good wishes.  Her only view of Spain has been via Facebook photos and Whatsapp messages. And that private nurse we hired ...
Sacked for sleeping on the job!
When we look back we think this has been brewing for a while.  Her favourite foods started to give her stomach ache and she'd eat a few mouthfuls of food and then have to stop as her appetite just went.  The timing was bad in as much as she is missing the hen weekend, but great as if it had happened 2 days later she would have been in Spain.  However, she is due to fly out to Portugal on Saturday for a week with her boyfriend but has to go to the docs Wed or Thur to see if she is fit to fly.  I'm glad the decision for that one is out of our hands and she's resigned herself to them probably saying 'no' even though the hospital said it might be ok.  We can't stress over that, but need to concentrate on getting her stronger again.  It's funny the little milestones we normally take for granted.  Getting out of bed on your own.  Standing up straight.  Sitting on a dining room chair.  Sleeping on your side. 
So this is not the post I planned to write today, I had much nicer things in mind but they can wait for the moment.  No matter how old your children are, when they are hurt, you hurt too and my patient needs to take her next dose of painkillers so I will leave it here for now.  Tune in again in a couple of days time for non-illness related stories!

Saturday 10 May 2014

One photo and twenty words

When Rachel woke on Tuesday we had no idea that she would have appendicitis by teatime. Eight hours in A+E!

(We have had quite a week! Many thanks to those Facebook friends who left kind messages. Thank goodness it happened when it did, 48 hours later and that would have happened in Spain. She was disappointed to miss her friend's hen weekend, but can see that actually the timing was a blessing in disguise)

Joining in with Abi's meme of matching one photo with 20 words. 

Sunday 4 May 2014

Safe arrivals

I am happy to announce that my first square for the Friendship Quilt arrived safely this week!  I guess it's kind of fitting that the first one came from the lovely lady who has organised this project, Fiona. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Isn't it pretty? I was SO excited to receive it and am storing it safely until all its brothers and sisters arrive this month.  I came home from work on Thursday and must have been home about an hour before my husband said to me 'oh yes, I almost forgot - you had a package come today.'  Casual as you like.  I need to impress onto him the need to tell me AS SOON AS I WALK IN THE DOOR if I receive post for the next week weeks.  Men!
We're enjoying a sunny Bank Holiday long weekend at the moment.  Isn't it great to have three day weekends?  I reckon in the next elections, if any of the parties said that they would change working week to Tue - Fri they would get everyone's vote!  We are having a relaxing weekend, can't bear the thought of braving the motorways over a Bank Holiday.  We have a new restaurant opening in town this week and this weekend, if you followed them on Twitter you were sent a link to apply to have a pre-opening booking.  All food half price so they can test the menu.  So I applied and we have a table booked for tomorrow evening.  A nice way to round off the weekend!  I can't wait to see what it's like inside.  The original building is about 230 years old and it's use has changed so much since it first opened as a brewery in the late 1700s.
Remember me telling you about my friend who had her first book published?  Well, it goes on sale in America next week.  She has a preview copy for me so I will share more very soon.  It had to be published under a different title in the US as the original UK title of Fractured is also - apparently - the title of a series of thrillers in the US, and her book definitely should not be confused with that!  It's been interesting to live through this with her; the marketing in the US is very different to the UK even to the design of the covers, what sells in the UK would not be picked off the shelves in the US.  Even the type of paper that the pages are printed on is different.  Who knew?!

Enjoy your weekend!