Wednesday, 31 October 2007

New alarm clock

Some of you may remember an earlier post where I mentioned the horrors of getting up in the morning! I don't think that I mentioned it, but I have an alarm clock that vibrates and goes underneath my pillow (handy for those that cant, or wont, hear the alarm clock!).

But this vibrating alarm clock was not really enough to get me up, particularly if it was dark outside and too warm under the duvet! ;-) So, what I did was I set a timer on my bedside light and that would snap to full brightness at about the time I thought I should be awake.

However, that bright light is just a bit too much of a shock to the system, in the end all I did was make sure that I was under the duvet just before it turned on or immediately flang the duvet over my head as soon as the light came on. Which clearly wasn't helping!

Yet....I had an ace up my sleeve! I had heard of an alarm system called the bodyclock, made by a firm called Lumie. (they do a lot of lights for SAD people - and I don't mean it in quite that way!). After doing a bit of research, I decided that it would be worth getting one, so I bought one last weekend and have been using it for the last few days.

The premise is that you set the time for getting up and the light will gradually lighten until it gets to a suitable brightness for getting up (not mega bright, but a good light). So it is a nice and gradual waking up instead of a violent jerk into awareness when the bedside light turns on!

And I have to say, so far so good! Of course, I still don't want to get up, but I am more awake in the mornings and actually get up slightly earlier! A rather nice function that is has is that you can also set it to do a sunset, it is a bit unecessary though, but it is quite soothing to turn the main light out and then set the sunset going and gently drift off to sleep!


Why on earth do people like to be scared silly!!? The Times published a list of most scary movie moments, of course, this is a very subjective exercise as we all find different things frightening.

But that takes me back to my original point - why watch something that is going to give you nightmares!? A few years ago, I watched Event Horizon and I actually had to pause the video twice, if not three times, in order to regain my equilibrium - it was horrifying. Not in an obvious way as some of those slasher films are, but in a far more subtle way - plays on your imagination and the thought of "what's round the corner"!

These days, I just wont watch a horror/scary/slasher type film as I just can't handle it, and if that makes me a wimp so what!! The interesting thing is that I quite like ghost or supernatural stories - if I am ever on holiday somewhere I will try and find a book about local ghosts.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Dark forces!

We currently have a dead computer in the library! Not an uncommon occurrence here, but I have been communicating with the IT chap by email and asking him how on earth a system registry file can just go missing and whether someone can actually delete that by mistake and he replied with a great quote that I just had to share with you...

the registry is protected from users so it can only become
corrupt by other faults, blips, gremlins and dark forces
that haunt libraries

What a great quote, and eminently suitable for tomorrow's Halloween!

Sadly, I am forced to agree with him as it does sometimes seem as though we are haunted by the ghosts of former disgruntled computers! They seem determined to throw obstacles in our path! It drives us all mad and naturally as library staff we are the first port of call for anyone using our computers, which does make sense except that our knowledge can only go so far as we are not techies! ;-)

Monday, 29 October 2007

Four Fires

Have just begun to read Four Fires by Bryce Courtenay. I have not read any of his stuff for a long time, I am newly reminded of how damn good he is!

Four Fires is a novel, it is not real, it does not have any basis in fact...and yet I keep sympathising with various people and situations in the book and thinking things like "it's disgraceful how the refugees are kept out of the life of the town" or "poor Sarah, how is she going to cope?" and then I have to remind myself that I am reading a NOVEL not a biography of any kind!

This is going to be a good book, I can tell! If it is anything like The Power of One, this is going be a very good book - absoloodle! Read The Power of One to see what I am going on about! I do like good books, I read too much rubbish as it is!!

There are very few books that have made some impression on me. In fact, I can't even think of any right now! Most of what I read are kind of in and out of my mind pretty much immediately, having said that - Courtenay's books are amongst those that have grabbed my attention.

Some people claim that certain books have changed their lives, but I don't subscribe to that view - how can a book change your life, it would certainly have to mean something truly profound to you, and given how much and how fast I read, I just can't see any book having that kind of effect on me!

In fact, I do sometimes wish that I didn't read quite so fast! If a book is very good then I wish that I could read slower in order to enjoy it for longer, but I just don't seem able to slow down! Hopefully I am about to try a self-imposed experiment though - I have requested an audio-book of the first Harry Potter book from my youngest brother for my birthday, and I intend to sit down with the book in both my hands and my ears and try to read along with Stephen Fry and just enjoy the book at a (far more) relaxed pace! I shall have you let you all know how I get on!

Dartmoor Photos

Hi all - I said that I would post some photos from Dartmoor when I had a chance. Well, I totally forgot and now I am not going to get the opportunity until the weekend to turn my home pc on to upload a few photos, so I have stolen a couple of Mum's photos and posted those below!!

Dad and I, plus dog, are on top of Bellever Tor.

My successful attempt not to fall into the river at Dartmeet!

Friday, 26 October 2007

Adelaide Arts Festival

I am getting all excited about Australia again. The inital excitement, or as some might say - hysteria, had worn off and the amount of time doing research had diminished quite a bit!

But now I am all hyped up again because the programme for the Adelaide Festival of Arts has just been released!! I have yet to look at the Fringe website, but I am sure that that will be just as exciting.

My biggest trouble is that I only have about five days in Adelaide, and this includes the wedding!! Still, at least I wont ever be stuck for things to do whilst in Adelaide, as well as the fee-paying performances there are also several free things such as light shows that are projected on the major buildings in Adelaide (I hope that I have good blackout curtains in my hotel!).

Woohoo, only four months to go! P.S. Have just realised that while the Festival programme has been released, the Fringe programme does not get released until January!


Thank goodness it's Friday! I always really really anticipate Fridays - the beginning of the weekend - yay! ;-) I haven't got much planned for this weekend - a bit of shopping perhaps and a visit to the craft fair at the Science Museum in Wroughton.

Anyway, I have just finished The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes - all about the transportation system and the beginnings of Australia as we know it. It took me longer to read than a fiction book as I was only reading it during work breaks, non-fiction books nearly always take me longer to read because I can't just dive into them and read them in one sitting!

The Fatal Shore was certainly very interesting and yet quite horrific at the same time, in a stretch of about a hundred years there was only one man who tried rehabilitation instead of punishment. Yet, he was shouted down by the people who wanted to make Australia and Van Dieman's Land a deterrent and so made it all very very horrible with floggings, hard labour and short rations.

I am now waiting for a delivery of three more books - 30 days in Sydney (an irreverent look at the city!); The Explorers (an anthology of first hand accounts of Australian exploration!); and The Dig Tree (the story of a particularly ill-fated exploration into the Bush). So, I expect to be fully clued up by the time I land in Sydney. Oh, by coincidence, I happened to pick up a novel a few months ago and left it sitting on my "to read pile" - Four Fires by Bryce Courtenay - set in early Australia. This book is now in my bag for me to start reading this lunch time!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


....I've seen it all!!

I drove onto campus (the home of strange cyclists) and saw someone on skis! Clearly they weren't real skis as we have had no sudden and totally unexpected snow fall. They were short skis on wheels and I suppose he was practicing in the absence of snow, but he had ski-poles and all, which must have caused a few double-takes.

Certainly it was a bit risky trying to steer the car around him as he was flinging his ski-poles all over the place - he obviously needs a bit more practice!

Monday, 22 October 2007


Well, I said yesterday that today was a big day for was the end of a lot of preparation for the Accreditation visit to our Library! Every NHS Library gets visited by assessors every three years and our three years was up today!

A lot of work goes into preparing for this as we have to submit a workbook with lots of evidence about what we are doing and basically have to self assess ourselves and then the assessors visit and meet with the library staff, my line manager, the Chief Executive and some library users. They also get a tour of the Library and the chance to fire lots of questions at me!

It was a tiring and somewhat stressful day, but I am so glad that it is over. The way that it works is that at the end of the day they decide on what Stage Accreditation we should be awarded and then the official report with recommendations will get written and sent to us in about a months time.

Well, I am sure that you are now agog to hear what we got!? There are four stages to the accreditation:

0 - big fat failure
1 - basic accreditation - need improvement
2 - good accreditation with some areas of excellence
3 - excellent accreditation

I knew that we couldn't get a 3, but was hoping for a 2 and that's what we got!! I am so very very pleased, it is due to the hardwork of my staff and their support of me that we have been able to achieve this, so I am very proud of them. (Of course, I am proud of myself too!)

Sunday, 21 October 2007


Have just spent the weekend with Mum and Dad down in Dartmoor! The traffic down on Friday was horrendous, but the journey back today was quite good!

The weekend was lovely - will post pictures when I get a chance! The weather was lovely (bit wet and misty the first day though) and the B&B was just gorgeous - I highly recommend the Beechwood B&B in Postbridge, right in the heart of Dartmoor. They could not have been nicer people (plus two cats!) and they looked after us very well indeed.

As you might imagine, we did quite a lot of walking, which the dog enjoyed of course! We did a nine mile round trip on Saturday and the dog got very muddy indeed. The funniest thing on the walk was that we went past a farm that happened to have some turkeys in a pen near the road and Mum decided to call out "gobble-gobble" to the turkeys - and they responded!!! Mum did it again, and they were even more vocal the second time - it was so funny - I have discovered that Mum speaks Turkish!! ;-)

At the end of that day we collapsed in a heap back at the B&B and fortunately, Mum had the foresight to book an evening meal at the B&B so that we didn't have to looking for our supper. We had a simple sausage and mash accompanied by some rather unusual ciders - Dad had the normal scrumpy, Mum had pear cider and I had cranberry and apple cider which was a bit sweet, but very nice.

As Sunday dawned really bright and clear we decided to walk back up the first Tor that we did on the Saturday so that we could have a better view as it was a bit misty the first time we climbed up! The dog got another nice run about, I think that she was a bit surprised to be out walking again!

After that we wandered over to Dartmeet and walked along the river a bit before going on to Princetown and visiting the prison museum - very informative and interesting, just a bit eye-opening as to what prisoners will do in order to create a weapon or escape route! There were some weapons made out of bits of glass or plastic attached to wood or some other handle with lots of string or cloth, all very ingenious but rather dangerous!

By then it was time for me to think about going home, so we went back to the B&B (Mum and Dad are staying until Tuesday) for a cream tea before I jumped in the car and headed home in order to get a good night's sleep before going back to work on Monday - it's a big day for me, but I'll explain why tomorrow!

Friday, 19 October 2007


By now many of you cannot have escaped the fact that I am going to AUSTRALIA in March - yay! ;-)

I decided that I would need some new luggage as all I have at the moment are suitcases that are still good, but they don't have suitable wheels or pull-ability! So, I found a cracking deal on the Debenhams website and have ordered two red Tripp cases, one for the bulk of my luggage and one for my hand luggage. (They arrive in about five days!)

While that is very nice, that is not actually the point of this post. The point is....last night I came across the fact that you can get your luggage sent ahead of you, now, I knew that you could do this if you were moving abroad and simply had to send everything ahead of yourself.

But did you know that you could do this with ordinary luggage, or things like that ski/surf/golf equipment that you just didn't fancy carrying around the airport! So, I had a quick look to see whether it would be worth sending my luggage ahead to Sydney so that I could walk off the 'plane relatively faster than anyone else (would still have to go through all entrance checks and everything!).

Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather!!!! I can indeed send my luggage ahead to Sydney - at the cost of.....wait for it.......£300-odd pounds!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, that very quickly put paid to that idea, I will simply buy a book at the cheap price of £5.99 (or whatever!) and entertain myself whilst waiting in the queue!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Bicycle helmets

I don't quite know why, but bicycle helmets always seem faintly amusing to me! There is something silly about the way they look, perched on top of someone's head!!

Of course, I fully appreciate they are there to protect your head and not necessarily to make you look good!

However, if I thought that they were merely amusing, it was really quite funny to see one this evening - on top of a big bloke in army fatigues and backpack!! It made me smile!

But that's not the only amusing thing I often see on campus, occassionally I even see blokes in kilts cycle past!! Now where would they put their bicycle clips?!? Although I have never seen it happen, I have a vision in my head of one of these kilted cyclists demurely holding their kilt down whilst furiously pedalling along!

And that's not the only thing - the campus is so big that bikes are used to get about, which makes sense, but that means that I see the oddest things - people cycling along using mobile phones, people cycling along holding up umbrellas!! (to be fair, it was raining quite hard that evening, but what happens if a gust catches them!!! Perhaps that is the point, to use sailpower to get them going!)

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

quotation "marks"!

Courtesy of Bloggers of Note I have just come across a rather funny blog about quotation marks in the wrong place, of course that could be the "wrong" place!

So, what do people actually mean when they put quotation marks around things, the blog I read above suggests that when using quote marks people don't actually mean what they say (or at least they shouldn't mean what they say!).

It must be a bit of a minefield when you use them unintentionally or you do actually mean to say something intelligent and/or sarcastic, but no-one reads it in the way you intended!!

Unfortunately, my brothers will tell you that I have the opposite problem - I tend to state the obvious, which must be a bit annoying for those on the receiving end, but I simply don't seem able to help it!! I can't actually think of an example right now, but I am sure that one of those aforementioned brothers will give you all an example via the comments page!

Bridge to.....nowhere!?

I drive down the motorway every day to get to work - not far - only between two junctions, and go under (and over!) several bridges!

Recently they (the ubiquitous they!) have been replacing pedestrian bridges over this motorway, which is all well and good as it stops people from feeling that they might plummet onto the motorway as they walk over.

But...there is one that was being worked on in the last few months or so and as I drove past each day it was quite interesting to see the progress being made.

However, and it is quite a big however, the workmen all packed up one day, took their tools away, took the cones away and generally left it all looking clean and tidy and.....didn't finish the job!!!

The bridge goes north over the motorway, but as soon as you attempt to climb down on the northern find that you can't! There is no off slope or ramp or steps or anything like that! Which is quite bemusing, I wonder if they are waiting for a part or something silly like that.

Having done a bit of research however, I have discovered that the plan is to extend the bridge to go over a new road in a proposed development that is apparently under construction. Now, if you live around here you will already know that this development is a contentious one with people complaining about it, so perhaps they can't finish the bridge because the new development proposals are still in the political arena.

In any case, it looks very daft to see a bridge that clearly goes....nowhere!!!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Robert Jordan

Oh my god! This is what comes of hunting for interesting blogs!

I have just come across some information that tells me that Robert Jordan died on the 16th September 2007, he was only 58 and died from complications with amyloidosis. That in itself is sad enough and I know that he will be missed.

But....for those of you that don't know....he is the man that wrote the series The Wheel of Time. I, of course, have those books sitting on my bookshelf and I thoroughly enjoy them. far as I know, he hadn't finished the series when he died. I believe that he was working on the very last book, which promised to be a whopper as he was expecting to tie up all the strands of the stories and other loose ends in the series.

This is a major crisis for all those fans out there!! Neverthess, I understand that he left lots of notes, tapes and instructions ad infinitum for his wife and editors, so although the book may not have Jordan's 'voice', I hope that we will all be able read and enjoy the end of that series (and get some closure, because the series is already too long!!).

Rest in Peace James Oliver Rigney Jr AKA Robert Jordan.


I happened to read about an online survey about blogs (carried out by a librarian surveying blogging librarians!) - you can read about it here - I think that it makes for quite interesting reading.

But the reason why I am talking about this is because there is a little statistic that shows that some people read more than 200 (yes two hundred) blogs - whether by actually visiting them or just having the rss feed I don't recall. However, that little fact made me stagger - do people actually read all those, more to the point is how the heck do they find the time to do so!!

I read about 8-10 blogs and that is via my rss feeds page on pageflakes, so I only read them when there is something new, otherwise I would be forever checking the blogs to see if someone has written something interesting!

If I think about it though, I do think that there is the potential for me to read umpteen blogs, perhaps I just haven't found the ones that I want to read about yet!! That raises another question though - how do people find all those blogs!!

I tend to find mine through links on other blogs or through places like "blogs of note" on blogger, perhaps one will get mentioned in the media or something, so I go and have a look. Mind you, I have to remember that this is not an overnight collection of blogs - I bet some of those "more than 200 blogs" people have built up those collections over a few months, if not years!!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Amazonian shoes

Since when did Amazon start selling shoes!! It's getting a bit ridiculous I think - it used to be that Amazon sold books and that was it! Now I think that they sell all manner of things from books to DVDs to toys to jewellery to shoes - although do you think that anyone would ever buy this particular pair of shoes!?!?

In any case, the point of shoe shops is so that you can try on as many as you need to before settling on the perfect pair - you can't do that if you buy online (of course, you could always wind up the assistants by trying on lots of shoes and then going home to buy them cheaper online!) as you would have to buy them, wait for the post (depending on the strike!), try them on and then if they don't quite fit or you don't really like them after all, you have to send them back!! What a palaver - I don't think that I will be doing that.

Still, I suppose that is the wonder of the internet - you can find or buy just about anything!! I just don't know what I would do without it!! I booked all of my Australian holiday online and now I am driving myself mad by reading anything I can get my hands/mouse on! There is no doubt about it - I love the internet, even if I wouldn't buy certain things that way.

Anyway - Happy Birthday to Sarah!

Monday, 8 October 2007

The weekend

Well, the weekend just gone was lovely. The weather was glorious and we all had a good time. Some of us were down at my parents house for the weekend after Matt's graduation (Matt himself stayed in Chichester as he had things to do including his graduation ball!).

Marielle wasn't at the graduation, so she and my lovely little nephew and niece were to arrive later that morning, so we generally had a quiet morning following a cooked breakfast (one of the things that I always look forward to when visiting M&D - marmite on breakfast chips, yum!)

Saturday afternoon we popped into town (I bought myself a hardback notebook so that I could write all about my Australian holiday!) and spent some time on the beach - we never spend time on the beach in Hastings, it just doesn't seem to be something that we do!

Sunday was just as nice, I spent a couple of hours in the morning visiting an old school friend - we've known each other since we were about six!! Then, after a tasty roast dinner we all went down to Alexandra park in Hastings. Once again the sun was shining and was generally chased around the park, found pine cones, watched the squirrels, had a cup of tea, coffee or ice-cream.

All in all a rather genteel weekend with lots to laugh about.

Friday, 5 October 2007


I have just spent the day in Chichester with some of my family watching my youngest brother graduate!! He looked very good in his gown and mortar board, and we are all very proud of him of course.

The ceremony was relatively short and Matt got a cheer from his mates when he went up to collect his degree (AND a prize for his creative writing). Lots of photos were taken afterwards of course, although my camera batteries decided to run out!! (My fault for not recharging them, or at least remembering to carry some spares!).

Chichester itself is a lovely little town near the West Sussex coast, there are lots of great little shops, including my personal favourite - Montezuma's - a lovely chocolate shop that I just cannot resist every time I am in town! Anyway, we had lunch in Wests, a converted church near the cathedral and just generally had a very nice time (although my feet were killing me by the time we got home! My trousers were lonnng ones and required that I wear heels!)

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Who do you think you are?

I don't often get to watch television weekday evenings as I am at work, but I had this evening off and managed to catch Who Do You Think You Are? which is an absolutely fascinating series about tracing the history of a television personality or some other famous person.

This evening they traced the family background of Alistair McGowan who traced his paternal line back through about seven or eight generations, all beginning with his father who had 'anglo-indian' listed on his birth certificate. Which prompted a visit to India to see whether the family did indeed have an Indian heritage as McGowan was always told that the family was just English, but happened to be born in India.

Well, the journey was fascinating, McGowan does indeed have an Indian ancestry. What happened was that when the British colonised India, the military men were given financial incentives to marry the natives as this would establish the colony and create loyal British subjects that would have ties to both Britain and India.

The strangest thing is that there are still McGowans in India and they all look quite distinctly Indian, but have names like Cecil, Ralph and Jonny! Anyway, McGowan managed (with the help of the BBC!) to track the family line back a bit further.

Essentially, what he was hoping to do was find out who was the first of the McGowans to arrive in India and where he came from. It took a few generations, but McGowan eventually ended up back at the British Library with a military Librarian and discovered that the original McGowan (John) was Irish! Poor Alistair, he was hoping to find that his however-many-Greats Grandfather came from Scotland as he felt quite an affinity for Scotland!

Wow - you just never know do you? It must be so interesting to figure out where you originally came from, but it would get very confusing unless you stuck to one line and most people go for the paternal line, but that is not the only family tree you have! It is also a very expensive and time consuming research project, fortunately those that take part in this series have the support of the BBC - I don't think that they could have done it otherwise!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Bloomin' drivers!!

Now, I most certainly would not call myself an excellent driver, after all, I too make mistakes and the occasional error of judgement.

But sometimes, I do wonder just how good a driver the average person on the street is!! I mean, some days, I have moments when I think that I couldn't possibly raise my eyebrows any higher and yet I do!!!

Today for instance...someone stopped at the entrance to a roundabout to let someone out of the car! Then a few minutes later a bus pulled out of a roundabout in front of me - didn't the driver realise that he wasn't in a fast car that could do that? And don't get me started on people who sit in the middle lane of the motorway and there is nothing else on the road for miles!!

Oh I don't know, some times I see some really silly things and that just makes me all the more determined to watch out for the loonies on the road!! ;-)

By the way, it looks as though I am not going to get my replacement wing mirror until next week. So I have to drive around with a taped up mirror, which only makes me wince every time I look at it and want to put a big sign on the car that says "it wasn't me!"

Addendum: Thursday 4th October: I have decided after all, that I am definitely a good (or at least better than average) driver!! I came across two more idiots last night (my eyebrows hit the stratosphere this time!). One driver decided that he was king of the road and didn't need to consider anything other than where he wanted to go - you should have seen the chaos he caused as he pulled out onto two different roundabouts and caused trouble for those coming round the roundbout, and he also weaved across a three lane section of road without indicating because he didn't know which entrance he needed for the roundabout!

This was all followed up by another driver about two minutes later who decided to sit in the fast lane of the dual carriageway (no other driver in sight apart from me) and was not going to move over, so I had to illegally undertake him - grrrrrrrr!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Australia fun stuff!

I have been having fun with google maps!! I can make my own maps, so now I am about to make you all quite green and show you where I am going!

I hope that it works as I have been playing around with it and I am not entirely sure how it will end up!! Also - it takes a few seconds to load, so before you think that it hasn't worked - be patient!! If you want to find out more, you simply click on the blue balloons and see what I have written!! Good fun eh?! (Incidentally, it actually appears to work slightly better if you open the map by clicking "view larger map" so that you can actually see everything!)

Of course, I am hoping that when I get back from Australia, I can make another map that will include a bit more detail about what I actually did!!

View Larger Map