In the end I decided not to do any painting yesterday. In hindsight I can see that this wasn't the best of choices. Yesterday H was at home and would have helped me move stuff so that I could access the other walls. Ah well. I shall have to try working around the stuff today.
( Wot I did yesterdayCollapse )
Right, I'd better go arrange these roses H gave me and the chrysanthemums from a friend. Then there's the painting. Again! Ho hum!
Y'all have a good day now!
So I painted the ceiling, three times in the end. Ow! My arms!
Saturday afternoon I painted the one wall with B&Q 'one coat' emulsion in 'Vanilla Rose', which is a nice cream colour. Go Google if you're interested, Dear Reader. I'm not entirely sure one coat will do it in the one corner. But that could have been because the roller was wet from where I'd washed out the white ceiling paint, rather than duff paint. I'll go have a look soon and decide.
Later that evening I painted my fingernails. I think it's a nice shade of blue. Or it could be taken that I have Raynaud's/it's a comment on the changed weather.
The week before last, in South Wales, it was warm and sunny (out of that Nor'easter). Last week it cooled, rapidly. Today H is vacuuming the dust off the gas fires preparatory to having them on for the first time since about May(?) We could put them on and burn the dust off, but the smell . . .
We have decided not to hold out until November, even if that is only next Tuesday. By the time we've dug out the woolly blankets, woolly jumpers, woolly socks (though I'm currently wearing cotton mix ones) and woolly mitts and I'm glad to be able to spread the current jumper-in-progress over my lap as I knit . . . We-ell, perhaps it is time for a fire.
Once upon a time the gas appliance service was due around September/October, so we knew the fires were clean and safe before we switched them on. Over the years the appointment has gradually 'slipped' and now Ben, the service engineer, comes in March or April. Which is more like 'putting them to bed' for the summer, should we have one!
The other project planned for today is a visit to the Dentist. I haven't actually been to the dentist since mid-2009. So I don't see him being all that impressed - I plead a bad bout of Depression, m'Lud. I shall return the lump of amalgam filling to him for 'safe disposal', it contains mercury after all.
I do wish this computer screen was dust repellant. As 'tis I have to keep dusting it off. 'Use a soft, damp cloth' is what Apple recommends. So we do. Then the screen goes 'ssschuuuuck!' and lo, it's all dusty again! Thing is, we've a new desk light, at a more acute angle to the screen, which really highlights the adhering dust particles! Get me and my First World niggles!
Right, I have checked, and replied to, my emails; checked and replied to txt messages; had breakfast; I can no longer put it off. Where are my painting clothes and the roller? Does that corner really need another coat? Or can I make a start with the brown paint on the other walls?
Apparently being creative, any kind of creativity, is good for you. Even if you aren't 'all that artistic' - you can see where the 'colouring in' craze comes in! Now, does painting walls count as 'creative'?
Y'all have a good day now!
*Being the song sung by the 'Gardener' cards in Disney's animation of Alice in Wonderland. I'm currently painting the walls cream and/brown, but that doesn't sound as good. Although it's a bit reminiscent of a certain rail company's colour scheme for their carriages! Go on, Dear Reader, guess which! And no, it isn't actually that shade of brown!
The United Nations has appointed an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.
The 'post' is merely a name. 'Honorary', according to my Little Oxford English Dictionary, means 'conferred by way of honour; unpaid'. Ergo it's not a 'proper' post.
And just to emphasise the fictitious nature of the position, this bunch of jokers has appointed a fictitious female, Wonder Woman, as the first Honorary Ambassador.
Yes, well. It may be an honorary post but you can bet that someone is going to be claiming royalties on any 'appearances' the Ambassador may make. (Marvel Comics?)
Wonder Woman was created by Harvard-trained psychologist William Moulton Marston and Elizabeth Holloway Marston, his wife, in 1941, inspired by the leaders of the suffragist movement. Apparently she has long been considered a feminist icon.
Did the Suffragists deflect bullets? Did they have 'super powers'? For that matter, did they run around nearly naked?
From my reading of history, those who made up Suffragist and Suffragette movements all wore decent, by Victorian and Edwardian standards, clothing. Their 'super powers' were reasoned arguements as to the equality of all humankind.
Ok, occasionally some of them used violence - breaking windows etc. But usually the violence was used against them, by men:- ignoring of valid arguements, ridicule, verbal violence, actual physical violence - rough handling, prison sentences, forcible feeding when those imprisoned went on hunger strike, etc.
Western Feminists may have 'burned their bras' in the sixties and seventies, but they still kept their outer clothes on. They still tried to get across reasoned arguements to men who, too often, just weren't prepared to actually engage their (reputedly larger) male brains and listen!
Plus ça change!
So here we have the UN, supposed to be serious body of world leaders, choosing a fictional character. A character designed by white Americans, purportedly as a feminist icon; but in reality a scantily clothed male fantasy.
Are we sure this 'post' wasn't suggested by Trump? After all, she seems to fit some of his ideas of womanhood!
Goodness only knows how she comes across to other than Western cultures!
Personally I feel insulted. The UN has made a joke of women and girls and their education, development, empowerment, even their right to a place in the world.
No, I don't feel insulted. I am disgusted with the UN.
After all, there are so few real women - empowered, empowering, from whom the UN could have chosen. Aren't there? *Snark*
Just how much actual thought did they put into this 'Ambassadorial post'? Just how hard did they look for a real woman? Even among the women in the UN itself?
Or is the UN admitting that, for all the brouhaha, all the magnificent buildings, all the speeches, all the protocols, it too is a joke?
The UN. Must. Do. Better.
That's 'finally' as in 'at last it's being done' rather than 'at last it is done!' Never mind, I have started slopping paint around. Yay!
As you may remember, we've been spending several weeks sorting through bags of paperwork. We spent one Saturday afternoon with S helping clearing larger stuff to the tip. Then this week someone came and took a few things to sell for charity. And there is still stuff up there! However there is floor space enough now to be able to wield a roller and reach the ceiling and at least the tops of all the walls.
The room was last decorated when it was D's. She was in her teenage Goth phase, so painted it black and dark blue. She also painted half the ceiling blue-ish as, in her words, she couldn't see where she'd already painted it when she was using white. I dunno, I've painted many a ceiling white and it's not that difficult. You just look for the slight sheen of the wet paint. Simples.
So, first it was too warm to do much. Then it was a case of getting started. Eventually I gave H a stiff poke about sorting his paperwork, took up S's offer and we started on the 'stuff'. Now we have 'stuff' in the back bedroom (can't see the floor), 'stuff' on the landing (mind your toes if you're wandering around in the dark), stuff awaiting collection in the living room . . . The trouble with these small houses is that if you want to re-decorate one room you almost have to fill all the other rooms to make enough space to be able to do so. Or maybe we just have too much stuff?
I'd spent a while consulting paint charts, wondering about colours. I know grey has been fashionable, but 'fashionable' dates so quickly and grey can be chilly. This will be a 'guest room', I want 'welcoming'. In the end I got a light-to-mid-brown (a warm shade) for three of the walls and a nice cream for the wall behind the desk. We've also got a heavier blind which, it being blue, I shall have to paint before it goes up. The room faces east so if it's a sunny morning it soon lights up. Plus the city council has seen fit to put a lamp post outside so you need something substantial to keep it dark - for those who require darkness to sleep.
Yesterday I painted the ceiling - over that blue stuff. It wasn't that dark a blue, honest! Got out the roller, improvised a paint tray, put out a 'dust sheet', fought with the roller to get it fully extended. I may be six foot but the ceiling is considerably higher, though not as high as it might be if we were living in one of the posher houses they have in North End or Southsea. Thank goodness.
Ow! My arms! Ow! My knees! I gave the ceiling a second coat before tea. I also took the opportunity to roller white paint onto whatever black or dark blue walls I could reach. I may have bought 'one coat' emulsion for the walls but I doubt one coat would have been enough to cover those dark colours. White will be easier. The pizza was ordered in last night (I usually make it.) It was nice.
A critical look this morning reveals that, though the ceiling looks as if it's intentionally white, it'd probably benefit from another coat. My arms! Still, I can then, I hope, shift the desk and stuff away from the one wall, with H's help, and get a coat of cream on that. Then we'll see whether or not B&Q were lying about the covering capacity of their 'one coat' emulsion!
Mum was asking what colours I'd chosen during the Sunday phone call.
'Don't get B&Q paint.' She warned. 'We got that once. It wasn't so expensive, but after three coats it still looked as if it needed more.'
'Gee. Thanks, Mum.' I replied. 'Now you tell me.' I'd gone to B&Q because a) it's near and b) they were having a special offer on their paint that weekend. Let's hope the 'special' bit wasn't additional water in the paint mix!
So there we are. Soon I shall have to exercise my arms to unstiffen them, put on my 'painting' clothes and go slop some more white emulsion onto the ceiling. That will be it. Three coats. There will be more paint, but I'm not wasting more time on the ceiling. I want to get this room painted before it gets too cold for the paint to dry - apparently it's ok down to 10°C. The forecast is talking about temperatures of 10-13°C from 11am on. That's outside though, I hope it's warmer inside. It's a sunny morning so that will help. *Goes to place thermometer to see*
What are you up to today, Dear Reader? Have a nice day doing it. In my case I think it'll be nice when it's done!
Wot We Did On Our Holidays - Friday
We were up, breakfasted, completely packed and ready to go in plenty of time. This involved getting up earlier than previously, but not that much earlier. On arrival at the breakfast table fellow breakfasters wished us, 'Good Morning!'
Eyes barely opposite the holes I replied, 'Is it?' Fortunately some breakfast helped matters, otherwise it was looking like it could have been a coffee and matchsticks job!
Coach loaded, we sent off. It was raining. Well, it was Wales, it rains a lot there. The nor'easter which had kept the rain off all week must have died down overnight, allowing the prevailing, rain-loaded, sou'wester to take over. We didn't mind too much, we were in the coach. As long as there were no eejits going too fast on the wet roads.
We stopped for elevenses just short of the Severn Bridge, still in Wales, the rain was also stopping. Back in England it was dry and the sun came out! Then down the M4, round the edge of Bath, along country roads (A class) to Salisbury, lunch stop, and back to Portsmouth. Put the washing on, order in a pizza and veg for the evening.
And that, Dear Reader, was our Houses and Gardens holiday in South Wales. I recommend it. It might be interesting to do at another time of year, as gardens vary so much year round. For that matter, it might be interesting to do in a week or so's time, when the trees are really colouring up for Autumn.
* * *
Friday, 21st October - Fifty years ago
Life was proceding as normal in a little village in the valleys of South Wales. Breakfast had been eaten and cleared away. Men on the day shift had gone to their work in the local coal mine, children had gone to school looking forward to the half term break and women were deciding what housework was next for that day. It was a normal Friday until . . .
Until, after days of rain, at 9:20am, part of the huge coal spoil tip above the village, loosened by the rain, poured down the mountainside onto the local primary school and several houses. You can read more about it here, Dear Reader.
116 children, mostly aged 7-11 and 28 adults, five teachers and 23 residents of the farm cottages up the mountain and a terrace of 18 houses next to the school, died in the disaster. Only thirty of the school children survived. The village had virtually lost an entire generation. It took a long time to recover.
It took even longer to ascertain the reasons for the tip shifting and what had happened - a catalogue of bad siting (on top of springs), institutional neglect, disregard and lack of proper safety procedures on the part of the then pit owners, the National Coal Board. And as for getting compensation . . . How does one compensate for the loss of a child anyway?
Eventually compensation was paid - £500 per child! Even later the National Coal Board was finally harried into admitting responsibility. The Ordnance Survey, as well as many local people, had know about the springs under the spoil tips the NCB had claimed 'no one could know about.'
And as life went on, eventually the villagers of Aberfan, those who had lost children, those few whose children had survived, picked up the pieces of their lives and slowly moved on.
Today the old memories will hit with renewed power as various memorial events are held.
I remember being told about the disaster at primary school and watching the TV coverage with my Dad. I was the same age as many who had died in the disaster. I think a lot of parents, hearing the news and watching and listening to media coverage, looked at their children and were thankful that they were still alive. Maybe they even felt the kind of guilt one feels when one hears about terrible disasters happening to someone else.
Today of course the Aberfan pit is closed, like so many throughout the country. Victim of raised wages and increased production costs as the NCB was forced to bring in much-needed safety measures and it became cheaper to import coal from across the world. The spoil tips have been removed, though the grass growing where they were is a sickly yellow. In 2012 a new primary school was opened - for the grandchildren of those who survived that dreadful Friday morning fifty years ago.
Here's hoping big businesses also learn from Aberfan - to take responsibility to have and enforce proper safety procedures in their scramble for maximum profit. Hmmm.
Y'all have a good day now!
Thursday's visits were to Dinefwr/Dinyvor House and Deer Park and Mumbles.
Dynefwr is yet another old family seat which eventually got take over by the National Trust and is in the process of being renovated. The grounds contain Dynefwr Castle (told you it was old) sat high on the end of a ridge in a commanding position above the surrounding valleys; the house (built when they tired of/no longer needed the castle and renovated/updated/redeveloped through to 20th Century); 18th Century landscaped (by Capability Brown, of course) parklands complete with black fallow deer herd and herd of White Park cattle.
Apparently these are rarer than Giant Pandas!
( Dynefwr and Mumbles (more pics)Collapse )
Then it was back to the hotel for dinner and to pack for the next day - StevetheDriver wanted our cases by 8:30-8:45 and us all ready on the bus to leave by 9am. Even the best of holidays come to an end.
Right, I have some shopping to do. The stuff that wasn't delivered Monday evening - a whole tray's worth. First time they've managed that!
Y'all have a good day now!
Fortunately having found out how to operate the hotel room window, we managed to sleep Tuesday night. Wednesday morning we were still a bit 'hung over' from the heat Monday night, but there you are. You can't have everything.
Anyhew, Wednesday morning's House and Garden was Tredegar House, home to the Morgan family 1402 - 1951, lots of pictures here. We started with coffee and cake in the Stable Block cafe, then wandered around the magnificent building for a while looking for the Way In. Tredegar has had trouble with rain coming through the roof so scaffolding was being erected all round, which also cut down the light getting in through the windows.
( Tredegar and Barry IslandCollapse )
And thus, Dear Reader, ended the third day.
Y'all have a good day now!
Tuesday was the Gardens day. In the morning we visited Aberglasney Gardens and in the afternoon we went to Gardd Fotaneg Genediaethol Cymru, the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
Aberglasney was a country house which, as so many country houses, fell into disrepair after WWII.
There is a mention of 'nine green gardens' on the site in a mediaeval poem but its history becomes better documented in the days of William ap Thomas or Sir William Thomas, knighted by Henry VIII. He became the first High Sheriff of Carmarthensnhire in 1541-2.
In the reign of Elizabeth I the estage was bought by Bishop Anthony Rudd, Bishop of St Daviv'd. He and his sone, Sir Rice Rudd, is credited with having rebuilt Aberglasnye and creating the now famous Cloister Garden. Further history may be found here, should you be interested, Dear Reader.
We had some very nice bara brith and carrot cake with our coffee - necessary after the previous 'wakeful cos too hot' night, then wandered around the gardens.
Bearing in mind that we were visiting the gardens in early October, we were favourably impressed. The principle colours for this year seemed to be deep red - various dahlias, and mauve - asters (Michelmass Daisies) and Autumn Crocus. There was also the flaming red of the autumnal Virginia Creeper in the Pool Garden. It was a tad early for autumnal tints in the main trees, although the leaves of any prunus species had already turned rich red. Sorry, no pics, I told you, we forgot the camera!
Then back to the coach and on to the National Botanic Garden of Wales. The gardens are built on the land of yet another 'failed' country house. These too are a work in progress - not in the way all gardens are works in progress, but in development. We'd visited a couple of times around the turn of the century (the 21st, not the 20th!) So we were interested to see what else had been done. By this time I was 'walked out' and using my stick. In fact I reckon I walked far more last week than I have in ages, and only needed the stick once. Mind you, each time I got up I was hobbling a bit! There's a report of someone else's visit here, they remembered to take their camera!
Anyhew, I can report that the Broadwalk is splendid, just mind the stream! The Rock of Ages, which is supposed to illustrate some Evolutionary point, brought to my mind Toplady's hymn -
Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me find myself in Thee.
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure.
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
We had lunch at the Stable Block Restaurant, sat out in the old stable yard in the glorious sunshine and watched a small flock of sparrows. Bearing in mind how common House Sparrows were in my childhood, this was quite an event as sparrows have become horribly rare in recent years. That day they seemed to be doing very well on crumbs dropped by dining visitors. Apparently they're encouraged to breed in the Great Glasshouse, to keep some of the pests down.
We took in the Great Glasshouse, the Double Walled Garden, the Butterfly House (Plas Pilipala), the Japanese Garden, the Wallace Garden (very Evolutionary), among other places. We even came across a (sleeping) Oriental dragon by the way in to the Stable yard. I know Oriental dragons are supposed to be benign, unlike their European counterparts, but we tiptoed past and left it sleeping. I wonder if that goes to the Samlet industrial estate Dragon MOT testing station to be kept in good nick?
All in all, a wonderful garden visiting day. We were glad to have a lie down before dinner, though, when we got back to the hotel. I knitted most of the leg of the sock that day. More tomorrow, Dear Reader.
Y'all have a good day now!
Today is International Anti-Slavery Day. Despite the British Empire finally giving up slavery in 1833 and the USA, somewhat unwillingly, doing so in the late 1860s, there are more people enslaved today than ever before.
People, including children as young as four or five, are enslaved as sex workers, domestic servants, beggars, cannabis farmers, at nail bars, in car washes, in garment factories making cheap clothes . . . In fact in any kind of work that has potential to make money for the slave 'owners'.
These days a person is trafficked into some form of slavery every 30 seconds. The average age of those trafficked is twelve-years-old. The main export of Moldova is young women, into prostitution.
If you follow the News then you'll have heard of various people kept as domestic slaves being found and finally released. Or girls (mostly), in the UK, who are vulnerable, perhaps are 'in Care', and have been groomed then passed around groups of men for sex. Modern Slavery could be happening near you, Dear Reader. It could be happening near me.
Modern Slavery is still as much slavery as ever. The only 'modern' thing about this slavery is that it is happening now, in the twenty-first century. It should be stopped, and it's up to us to work towards stopping it. One such organisation involved is Stop the Traffik, there are others.
Y'all have a good day now! However badly it goes it won't be as bad as the day had by a Modern Slave
One of the good things about this particular holiday was that the pick-up for the coach was at a reasonable time of day - 10:10am. So there we were, packed, hand luggage (knitting, waterproof, mobile phone, bottle of water, that sort of thing) waiting for the taxi. When it came we got in, driving to the pick up point H suddenly realised he'd put down the camera and not picked it up again. It was still sat on the settee at home. Any pictures I find will be off teh webs rather than taken by us. Fortunately that was all we forgot.
Arrived at the pick up point. I cast on the toe of the first sock and we waited. The Guildhall clock chimed ten and we paid a little more interest to the traffic. A couple of coaches went straight past; should we have been on them? What was more to the point, as H said, was that we were the only people waiting there. Check time, 10:11am. Oh!
Then the coach appeared, stopped and we loaded up. And off to the next pick-up point. By the time we got to Southampton I'd knitted the sock toe and started up the foot. We picked up more people in Salisbury (pronounced 'Solsbury') and then set off for South Wales along roads originally designed for Mail coaches rather than 57 seaters. Steve, the driver, did really well, although he had a tendency to drive along the 'rumble strip' of any road, if there was one. Don't know who he was trying to keep awake, himself?
We crossed the Severn by the new Severn Bridge, then stopped at the first motorway services for a welcome break, a coffee and a bun. Then on to Swansea.
You remember that 'bilingual' road sign, Dear Reader? Well, it was on the industrial estate on the edge of Swansea, in Lamsamlet, right where 'our' hotel was sited. It's since been replaced with a sign that says the same in both languages - directions.
Another sign I noticed on that industrial estate - I did mention that the hotel was situated at the edge of an out of town retail park and industrial estate? The sign said 'Dragon MOT Testing Station'. *Boggle!*
When I txted S about it he replied,
'Well, we gotta make sure dragons are airworthy . . .'
By the time we'd arrived I'd knitted the foot of the sock - good timing that, I thought. I turned the heel and started on the leg that evening.
The hotel, Mercure Swansea, was quite nice, though obviously part of a chain. Lots of rooms on two floors in a quadrangle. Food was good, if not making the most of local produce. H'd been hoping for laverbread (seaweed) with his breakfast. I doubt they'd have heard of it. Even without the laverbread the breakfasts were good.
We'd been arranged on four round tables, each holding eight people. This made for good conversation and friendliness among each eight. It also made the tables a tad wide for passing things across, but that added to the chances for conversation. 'Please would you pass the ...?'
The dinners were good too, just that I don't think they were geared up to serve 32 diners at once. Something they need to sort if they're going to take coach parties again. Dinner was scheduled for 7pm, by the time we'd had the three courses, with gaps, it would be going on 9pm. Other places we've been have had more efficient systems. The staff themselves were friendly and helpful.
Which would have been all, except . . . Having ascertained that all heating was off when we went to bed, we woke some time in the middle of the night. Too hot. Couldn't find anything to turn down any further. Couldn't find how to get the window to open only a little way, we were on the ground floor. Made a cup of tea. Drank the tea. Eventually got back to sleep a couple of hours later. Yaaaaawwwn!
The next morning we investigated the window, how to open it part way and fix it. The other nights were comfortably temperatured. I blamed the dragons up at the Dragon MOT testing station! For the excess heat, you understand, Dear Reader.
Thus we passed the first day and night.