cats

Bad idea

Coming into work for one day on a Friday after arriving home from holiday at going up for nine o'clock the night before was just such a bad idea. I'm tired and irritable, ready to fight with my own shadow, and counting the minutes till five o'clock. Tomorrow I'm going to have a very quiet day, to get my head back together before spending three days getting ready to go to Bath, and cleaning and tidying as my parents are cat/house-sitting whilst I'm away.

I have managed to ring the housekeeper for the house in Bath, to tell her when I'll be arriving next Friday, as per instructions on the confirmation letter, her advice was to ring her when I arrive... And she said that she could tell where I was ringing from by my Yorkshire accent, perhaps all Northern accents sound the same to southerners.

I've also wrestled with Amazon - I had two cards waiting for me when I arrived home last night, from the Home Delivery Network. There was no tracking number on either card, and the number on the card had been changed by hand from an 0870 number to an 0844 number, which was unobtainable. The HDNL website was completely useless, so I used Amazon's ring back service, which worked well until it came to actually speaking to someone, as their operators appear to be in America but not of American origin, so they speak broken American English (I spoke to two, the first one was cut off, not sure if it was their fault or my mobile). They told me to ring the 0870 number which had been crossed out, then the second one emailed HDNL for me, and apparently the parcel will arrive on Monday. I'm not holding my breath.
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Tyne Bridge

A Day Out

I've been terribly bad at updating lately, largely due to the fact that I have eighteen squillion posts stacked up inside my head, but they all require photos, and the effort of actually downloading them from the camera, editing them, uploading them and then putting them into a post in a logical order is just that step too far at the moment. And I really want to write about things that happened last week and the week before before I write about today, so the backlog gets bigger and nothing gets written. But tonight I will bite the bullet and ignore the past.

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cats

A good start...

The day started off well, I got up in time to go car booting, and whilst I didn't find that elusive copy of Joy's New Adventure in a dj, I didn't do too badly. I'm pleased with a pretty annual (School Stories for Girls) which has a Josephine Elder story I've never seen before in it (Guide Isabella) - in all too familiar form, the authors aren't credited on the contents page, so I'm glad I flicked through it.

Then back here to pack a couple of parcels and take them to the post office, completely forgetting that the first of the month is car tax day, with associated queues at the post office - this one was round the shop, out the door and half way down the road. I'd been energetic and gone on my bike, so I went straight past and on into town, feeling very virtuous at getting so much exercise. I didn't linger in town, it would only have involved spending money and/or killing several tourists for being dense, so I came home again. But my legs aren't used to doing so much cycling all at once (okay, it's not very much, but I'm out of condition), and now I'm exhausted, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the day. The sun's come out too - how did it know I was exercising at the time? Perhaps I'll sit down for an hour and get my breath back, then attempt to get some books listed. Or wash up. Or something.

cats

Ebay rant

An ebay seller, who insisted on sending some very cheap paperbacks by first class recorded delivery, even though I asked her for the cheapest postage (okay, it was after I'd bought them, so I paid up) has just sent me this email -

HI, Royal Mail tried to deliver your item on Saturday 11/08/07. Please contact them to arrange another delivery date.

Well, actually, the little red card through my door was a clue, and I have had parcels before, and know what to do with them. Funny that. I am very tempted to respond in a similarly patronising manner, but am venting here instead....

Although if, as I suspect, she has massively overcharged me for postage, my feedback will reflect that. And the patronising attitude may well be mentioned.

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cats

Free books!

Via white_hart, blog a Penguin Classic. Sign up, agree to write a review within six weeks, and they'll send you a free random Penguin classic (they tell you via email which one you've been given).

I was a bit dubious in case I was allocated something desparately intellectual about Greeks or Romans, which may have been good for me but perhaps too much of a good thing, but they must know me, as I've been allocated The Collected Dorothy Parker. Sadly I do already have a copy, but I'm hoping that this may be a new edition with different writings in it, mine being about 15 years old.
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Bookroom

Reading!

I've been reading. This probably doesn't sound like an unusual activity for me to engage in, given that I live in a house full of books, but lately I've got out of the habit somehow, and whilst I've read the first chapter or two of a few books, they haven't grabbed me and have been abandoned with just the corner of a newspaper to show the point at which I gave up.

But a few weeks ago, I was at my parents, and I spotted a book which I'm sure I must have bought - it didn't fit in at all with Mum's usual chicklit fare and Jilly Coopers. It was Shadow Baby, by Margaret Forster, a writer with whom I've had an uneasy relationship over the years. I've enjoyed some of her books, especially her biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and its companion piece, Lady's Maid, as well as some of her earlier fiction, especially Private Papers. But The Memory Box disappointed, seeming to promise more than it delivered, and I completed failed to realise that Diary of an Ordinary Woman was a work of fiction until the very end, when I nearly hurled it across the room, I was so cross. But that reaction demonstrates the power of her writing, and Shadow Baby engaged me to a similar degree. Although I did realise that this one was fiction, so it escaped my rage.

It's the story of two girls who are abandoned by their mothers as babies, Evie in 1887, and Shona in 1956. The narrative switches between the girls for several chapters, then between their mothers for a few more, then back to the girls, but it was Evie and her mother Leah who really came to life for me, and it wasn't until I found a nice hardback of Hidden Lives in a charity shop (glossing over the fact that on arriving home I found a pristine paperback on my bookshelves....) that I realised why. Evie and Leah's story is based firmly on the mysterious story of Forster's own grandmother, with the missing parts of her grandmother's story filled in - the reason for Leah's abandonment of Evie was one of few parts of Shadow Baby which grated, perhaps because the rest seemed so true, and now I realised why - Forster's family never found out the truth of her grandmother's missing years and mysterious daughter. But I thoroughly enjoyed both books, and despite having several more dotted about which I've either never read or read so long ago I've forgotten them, I had to go straight to Amazon and order more.

Whilst on Amazon, I ordered a couple of books by Adele Geras - Made in Heaven and Facing the Light. I've heard both mentioned in glowing terms on various book blogs recently, and decided to give them a go. Well. I enjoyed them both, but I'm not raving about them, I'm afraid. The stories seemed to meander about, with huge amounts of padding and long descriptive passages I could have lived without. The two family secrets in Facing the Light were glaringly obvious from very early on - I kept thinking that it was all too obvious, and that there would be a twist, but sadly not. And Made in Heaven just made me even more determined never to have a big wedding. Ever. Even if it does all turn out (predictably!) well in the end. They were both pleasant reads, and I've ordered Hester's Story and the new one, the name of which escapes me, I'm just thinking perhaps I'm missing something, given that others seem to have enjoyed them much more than me. But it would be a very dull world if we were all the same, and other such platitudes.
Osterley

A Day Out - Chatworth

kerrilouise has come to stay with me, so after spending several days running round like a lunatic trying to get the house into something even vaguely approaching order, we're now spending time running round like lunatics trying to see as many places as possible in a week. Yesterday we went to the Castle Museum in York, which is much better when it isn't full of tourists who've only come in because it's raining, especially when two of the children (who were quite old enough to know better) were blowing aimlessly into recorders all the way round. Then we climbed up Clifford's Tower, largely because it was next door and we both have English Heritage cards, but frankly the best bit was the view from the top of the walls. The blow up gift shop in the middle was a bit bizarre though.

But today was much more exciting - we went to Chatsworth. I've been before, but it was when Ray was ill, and we rushed round rather and I didn't remember much about it. The weather was almost certainly better than today though. But we managed to have a lovely time, even though the routeplanner and Kerri's satnav both took us through Sheffield, which I suspected would be a mistake, as indeed it was. I've seen it, and I don't want to see it again. We came home via Chesterfield, which was much easier. Although we managed to miss the famous spire completely, being too busy trying to read road signs that were completely covered by trees. Collapse )
Cats in laundry basket

What does your garden grow?

Outside my front door there is a slightly bizarre planter fashioned by the previous owner out of two plastic planters and some cement, which is now falling off. Occasionally I plant flowers in it, but its under the porch so doesn't get any rain, and given my complete inability to remember to water it, it's usually full of dusty soil. But occasionally something much more amusing grows in it.....

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