Friday, 31 August 2012

It's like walking, only faster.

Today, the sports bra I ordered arrived.
Tonight, I went running.

This is fairly momentous because up until now the whole idea of running has been something of an anathema to me but needs must.

I'm using the Couch 2 5K programme, mainly because I know a couple of other people who've used it and spoke highly of it. You can get an app for your phone which will work with your music files to talk you through the workout and so it all works rather well. Tonight I walked briskly for 5 minutes to warm up, then alternated jogging and brisk walking for 20mins, then five minutes normal walking to cool down.

The website also gives you a good guide about stretches too which adds on another 10 mins either side of the actual workout, I did it all. I did most of the workout in the graveyard over the road and after the first 10mins thought there was a fair chance I was actually gonna die. I stuck with it though and the rest actually wasn't too bad. I will have to find another place to run though, the graveyard is nice and private but it's not lit and with the nights drawing in, it's going to be pitch black in there in a couple of weeks. Not sure what route I'll take instead, the local area isn't really conducive and while I could head up to the park, it closes fairly early, earlier still in the winter. Hmmm, not sure.

Anyway, I ran and I survived. If I make it through the programme without death I might register for Parkrun too. There's also a running app out there that pretends you're being chased by Zombies :D

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thursday Holding Page


African Pygmy Hedgehogs.
Seriously, I may struggle to find a cuter pic to share with you all on Thursdays, but I will try.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Panda Wednesday

It's Wednesday, so here is your weekly dose of panda. You're welcome.
pssssst, look up!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Toddler Logic

I'm trying to gently nudge Small towards attempting potty training. He's resisting.
Today after tea I had to change him anyway so figured we'd leave off the nappy until after his bath and got out the Pixar Cars pants I'd bought the other day.
He liked the pants right enough, spent a lot of time upside down trying to get a better look at Mater. We had yet another conversation about how if he needed to wee he should let me know and use the potty.

After about half an hour he got up from where he'd been lying and proclaimed 'oh dear, water!' at the suspicious but small puddle on the floor. 'oh dear,' I replied lightly 'have you had a wee?'

At this Small looked at me in surprise, gorgeous little face radiating innocence and from the very heart of his soul he told me 'oh no Mummy, wees go in the potty. Water happened

Oh right, of course.

Monday, 27 August 2012

CV Hell

Because I'm contemplating looking for a new job, I'm trying to write a CV (or resume, if you're in the US)

I haven't had to write one in about 10 years, they've changed a bit from the brief lists of employers, duties and educational qualifications that they used to be.

Now they're sales pitches.

I am not a woman given in any way to self-promotion. I do not even handle complements well from others, never mind complement myself. It's incredibly hard to change mental gears so enough of a degree that I don't just mumble vaguely about "well, I do that but lots of people do, it's nothing special"

Arg. Thank gods I have a good friend who is very kindly smacking me round the head with the kind of thing I should be saying. I wasn't raised to this kind of behaviour.

I'm very unsettled.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

And then, this happens.


We took Small to the park this afternoon, quite late on as Big had volunteered to buy us dinner in Nando's so we went to get some air before eating.

The duck pond  Ornamental Lake has water lilies and they're in bloom at the moment. It's really quite difficult to describe how beautiful I find water lily flowers, especially floating on mirror-still water in the late afternoon when everyone is heading off home and things are tranquil. Well, as tranquil as anywhere that includes Small can be.
Nature is not nice, it's not kind, it's not just, it's not transcendent. It's just sometimes, in rather unassuming ways, quite beautiful.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

“My mind rebels at stagnation, give me problems, give me work!”

I confess, I'm struggling a little with the fatigue at the moment. The pains and the weariness are one thing. I can deal with them, it's simply a matter of indulging it only to a point and slowly but surely reasserting myself over them until I'm back up to normal service.
What's harder to deal with is the how it gives my inner demons a chance to stick the boot in. It's very easy to find yourself walking the black dog. I never feel particularly lonely until he comes sniffing around, I have plenty of cherished friends, just none I think particularly close. I have no idea if it's normal to contemplate this but when skirting the depths of self-indulgent depression I find myself wondering how many of the people I count as friends would consider themselves close enough to attend my funeral. Yeah, that's messed up. Let us not go there.

The title quote is pretty much the answer, although as I'm not a Victorian fictional master detective, I seek no mysteries or intrigues. Just good reads, idle chatter and such like things to distract me from the navel gazing. I tend to pick up new hobbies or return to old ones around these times in order to distract myself.

On that note, I picked up a cake decorating book the other day. Up to now I've done my cakes pretty much out of my own head, googling for demo videos and tips as necessary.
Then I found this. Oh dear. Now my head is filled with dreams of towering, beautifully sculpted confections. I desperately want to give shape to the inspirations it's fueled. To the point that I was even beginning to convince myself that it was reasonable to make one of them just to test recipes and techniques before it counts. I mean, is this the behaviour of a sane woman?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Exercise

I like cake too much not to exercise.
To lose the weight last year I walked a lot. A whole lot, with Small in the pushchair. The bigger he gets though the less we use the pushchair and the time is coming soon where hours of walking with him simply aren't going to happen.
I could exercise at home, with the Wii but while the workouts are fun and the feedback is good, the burn is fairly low. I can't get to the gym because a) I can't afford membership and b) I couldn't find the time to go anyway. It's beginning to become horribly apparent I'm going to have to start running.
On the plus side, it's cheap. I can get started with the Couch to 5K programme for nothing. Another plus is a rather cool Zombie running app I found the other week.
But it's running. Running. 
Urgh.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Thursday Holding Page

Still not so well. This is what is known as a fatigue condition biting you on the arse for not showing it the proper deference. Ah well, here are some hippos. Because everyone likes hippos.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Panda Wednesday

Today I feel very much like the middle panda. Very much indeed.
Iz poorly, send cake.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Assange Thing

I did promise...

To me it's fairly simple.
He may be the victim of trumped up allegations in a complicated honey-trap operation designed to eventually force him to stand trial in the US over the release of sensitive government documents. He may well be, although if you were one of the richest nations on earth and inclined to do that sort of thing, there are surely easier ways that don't involve extraditing to one country in the hope that you can then  maybe possibly extradite him to your own one.

Whatever.

He still has questions to answer. I would much rather he'd saved his lawyer money (and the bail money his friends put up for him) for fighting any attempt to actually extradite him to the US from Sweden than on not going to Sweden at all. If the allegations are as preposterous as some of his supporters claim, there shouldn't be a problem with simply putting his side and waiting to be released without charge and without giving any other nation the ability to seek his extradition in relation to any other charges.

Get Sweden to promise they won't send him to America if you like, then get his John Inman-alike arse to Sweden to face the legal process there.

I'd feel the same whatever the alleged crime. I have no time for the likes of George Galloway however, who has spouted a lot of quite vile nonsense, most likely simply to keep himself in the press. Galloway has suggested that the allegations made, even if 100% true, do not constitute rape.
In once case a woman alleges that she had consenting sex with Assange one night and woke in the morning to find him having sex with her again. Quite apart from how creepy it is to want to have sex with someone who is unconscious, if she was asleep, she did not consent or even was consulted in the act and it is therefore, rape. No question.
In the other case the woman was about to engage in sex with Assange but on the condition that he wore he condom. He refused and when she then tried to stop proceedings, she says he then held her down and carried on in spite of her attempts to prevent him. Again, no question that this scenario would constitute rape.

It really shouldn't be too complicated. Enough with the qualifications about a woman taking responsibility for putting herself in a situation. When you start with that sort of argument you insult men and women alike. Not only are women to blame for not being nuns but men are bestial savages, unable to control themselves or engage with rational thought as soon as a sexual encounter is even remotely on the cards. And when I say "on the cards" by these people's definition I'm talking about something as simple as wearing make up or attractive clothing, never mind kissing him.
Consent isn't just not saying no, if you have any respect for the person you intend to have sex with, or indeed for yourself, you will be looking for ENTHUSIASM. If your intended partner isn't responding to you with enthusiasm, surely you should at least be wondering why. It won't stop you being a victim of spurious allegations of course, nothing except possibly inviting an independent witness along to verify every encounter is likely to do that. But at least you, male or female, will be assured in your own mind about what happened. I would also say that if you don't have any respect for your intended partner, whether they are to be your partner for life for the next few hours, you probably shouldn't be having sex with them at all.

Anyhoo, I support the work of Wikileaks and the concept of innocent until proven guilty. That does not preclude me from expecting people to be answerable for their actions and to respond to allegations, especially of this nature, with transparency and honesty. Not hide from them.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Finally!

No, not finally my lovely family have gone home, I'm rather sad about that.
Finally, I've got somewhere with the fatigue.

It was actually a good day to go, as after the fab but hectic weekend we'd all had I was drained, weak and aching. Sobbed a little when explaining to doctor how Small had wanted lifting up earlier to look out of the window and I couldn't do it and how upset that had made me.

It's not that my GP isn't helpful, he is. Of all the doctors I've tried to discuss this with over the years, he's the first one to actually agree it's not right and we need to get to the bottom of it. I've been getting all sorts of blood tests for over a year now as he tries everything he can to locate a straightforward cause. I understand why he's had to do that but at times it felt like I was never going to get past that stage.

Now I'm past it, the last ditch batch of auto-immune tests came back no different than they had before so I now, finally, have my referral to the Chronic Fatigue Clinic. It doesn't mean I'm diagnosed CFS, it means I've exhausted the GP level of testing and diagnosis and will now go to specialists who will not only continue to look for a cause, but also help me deal with the symptoms, whatever the cause.

Thank the many and varied gods. I don't know how long a referral will take, I assume a good while but I'm just happy to have my referral!


There, tomorrow I'll have a nice little rant about Julian Assange to make up for all my dull, personal life ramblings of late ;)

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Two Little Boys...

Had considerably more than two little toys, to be perfectly frank. Today they got even more!

Nephew had been granted holiday money which was burning a hole in his pocket. Roughly every 5 minutes or so, he'd remind us that we had to go to a toy shop so he could spend it. Other family had sent down spending money for Small too.
After a lovely trip up to the park this morning, we headed down into town for toy shop and a pub lunch. Nephew got what his mother described as "his body weight in Lego" and Small got a plastic kitchen that packs away into a very tidy little suitcase size. This on top of the Mike The Knight stuff, the playmobile crane and the toy cars my parents and sister arrived with for him!

It's worth a little spoiling though to see them playing together so wonderfully. They held hands in the park, played cars and cafes and in the ball pit and all sorts today just lovely. There is the odd moment of tension but less than you would expect from two very small boys who're still coming round to the concept of sharing.

While Small had his nap this afternoon myself and Nephew built a car and attachable caravan out of his Lego and I had tremendous fun doing it, even though he's four he gets sets aged 5-12 and the detail is fantastic. Can't wait til I get this stuff for D, but I've mentioned that before.

The afternoon was filled with silliness and fun and shouting and leaping and running so it's no surprise that both lads were a lot less trouble to put to bed tonight. Going to miss everyone when they go home tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

We Are From Aberdeen, You Lose.

Today, because both Small and Nephew are train mad, we thought we'd take them to the Kirklees Light Railway. This seemed an especially good idea as they were having a special Thomas themed day, with engines done up like the Thomas engines and a Fat Controller, sorry Sir Toppum Hat. We've been before and thought it a great day so off we all trundled.
It was a bit disappointing to find that they bumped their prices up for the event. Not just bumped the prices up by a few quid but also lowered the minimum age to pay so that a reasonable day out became a stupidly expensive one. Being that we are from Aberdeen and therefore cannier with our pennies even than Yorkshire folk, we made a unanimous decision to Sod That. Instead we ate some lunch and made use of their playground for free, then took ourselves to Yummy Yorkshire for ice cream instead. The boys were none the wiser, delighted just to play together and watch some trains and eat ice cream and play in the sandpit at YY.

We got home and had a BBQ for tea, Black Farmer gluten free sausages are delicious by the way and worth buying even if you're not coeliac. Chicken and a chicken/sausage kebabs went on too and we did some potatoes in garlic mayo and some in honey mustard dressing and some salad to go with. The boys went mental with the garden toys all the while and a good time was had by all.

Now if only we could get Small back into his bedtime habit so he doesn't protest for two and a half hours before conceding to sleep, things would be perfect!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Family

My Mum, Dad, Sister and Nephew are visiting this weekend, they arrived this evening.
Just for a couple of hours there, Small (2) and Nephew (4) were completely hyper and insane. There was a flurry of gifts and toys (we don't see each other often) then toys being taken out of packaging and playing and happiness. It was like Christmas, wonderful.

They're both tuckered out and in bed now. I am also tuckered out as I've been cleaning all day in anticipation of Mum. It's a thing we women have, nothing is ever quite clean enough if Mum is coming to visit. Rather stupidly, I cleaned the kitchen, baked those macaroons, cleaned all that up and was finished just in time to start cooking our tea. Which of course I then to clear up after. So I've cleaned the kitchen 3 times today. Doh.

Anyway, the macaroons are pretty.


Thursday, 16 August 2012

Thursday Holding Page



It's a Kitten
It's a Pikachu


It's a Pikachu Kitten!
Happy Thursday everyone

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Panda Wednesday


Between one thing and another and getting soaked and overcrowding on the train home from work, I'm not a happy bunny.
Today, even the pandas have to tread carefully.
And I've run out of chocolate.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Do not argue on the internet.

I always forget that golden rule.
I'm rubbish at remembering that simple golden rule.

The thing about arguing on the internet is that you start fairly objective and calm but before hardly any time at all, you're freaking out at the gross obtuseness of your opposite number and getting ever deeper entrenched in a downward spiral of petty recrimination and insults. Even with people you quite liked five minutes ago.

Why? Who knows! Perhaps it's lack of visual cues and feedback and the eternal issue of being able to properly express intent in a purely written form. You make a statement, the statement is misunderstood or twisted and so you respond to try to clarify, it gets worse, you try again, it gets still worse... fngh.

I no longer frequent internet forums because while I like the social aspect, there are quite a lot of people who, quite inexplicably, are utterly wrong about an awful lot of things and it's very difficult in a forum setting not to tell them so. Ahem.

Today I forgot again and got myself called lacking in compassion. I don't believe I am, I just don't believe you can solve real, deep, generations old problems by blindly chucking money at them. Perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps the billions that have already been thrown into the void are irrelevant and the next few billion will do the trick, that'd be bloody nice. I'd love to be that wrong. But today I'm just compassion-less ole me, disliked now by a bunch of strangers I'll never meet and feeling irrationally put out by it.

I'm gonna get the golden rule tattoo'd on the back of my hands.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Bloodstock Reflected.

I meant to blog daily while at Bloodstock but failed. Just too insanely busy then too insanely shattered to do it.
Had an absolute blast though, it couldn't have gone better for us. Big was almost solidly busy most afternoons with interviews, I was mostly in charge of keeping Small entertained and running off to take pics in the moments Big wasn't needed elsewhere. Taking pics while entertaining Small doesn't work, as he always tries to grab the camera.

Having a media pass definitely makes festivals more attractive to me. Access to the VIP area and media tent rocks, it just adds an element of comfort and relative escape from the madness. I fell a bit in love with the giant bean bags they had in VIP actually, I'll be keeping an eye out for the next time there's a Groupon offer for them as they were sooo lovely. Two days in a row I was able to put D down for a nap on one of them then just relax alongside for an hour or so while everyone cooed at him as they passed. You also get a dedicated area to camp in away from the regular attendees so it's a bit quieter and more secure (not that we camped, we'd booked a Premier Inn but we set the tent up anyway to have somewhere to store stuff and take Small back to if it all got a bit much. You get a courtesy shuttle bus between the parking grounds and the festival rather than having to hoof it and all in all, it just makes for a nicer experience. Of course the downside of that is that you're busy all the time. Even the first year I went, before Small was born neither of us got to see many bands as we were either interviewing or networking or hanging around waiting for interviews to be rescheduled.
Technically my media pass allowed me access to the stage beyond the barriers to get shots of bands performing without heads in the way in all the stages except the main Dio stage. But I feel a bit of a fraud going in there with our little bridge camera when all the real togs have big proper DSLRs and telephoto lenses and step stools and look all proper. I only used my access once! Still got some pretty great pics though.
Bloodstock is a wonderful festival, the atmosphere is fantastic, relaxed, friendly, welcoming and safe. People just chat to you, especially if you're toting a teeny tiny little rocker in ear defenders and a skull and crossbones bandana on one hip. I'm so glad I taught him to bump fists with people now.
Small enjoyed Iced Earth, Moonsorrow and Paradise Lost best I think and cried when I had to take him away from watching Dimmu Borgir so I could leave him with his Dad and get some shots of them. He's still talking about Iced Earth today. Although I loved having him there I'm not sure we'll take him next year. Big seems to get busier every year as his contacts grow and I can't imagine how we'd manage to get everything covered with a child we can't just swing up and carry off when we really need to. Without having to worry about him I could take on interviews or go chase up the New Blood bands or do some promo for the podcast out in the main ground.
But then again, it was so cool to be all together for it.
Here's some of my favourite shots from the weekend.













Friday, 10 August 2012

Start em early.

Mobile posting again.
This time because we've taken Small with us while we attend Bloodstock Open Air.
As you know, I was nervous about how he would handle it but he's been great. Despite hating his ear defenders at home, he wore them well once they were doing their job.
It was HOT today too but he's literally rocked it.
Grand Magus didn't go down too well but he dragged me into the Sophie tent and boogied away to Primitai. Also moshed away to Moonsorrow and Iced Earth. My boy.

We're thankfully not camping, Big didn't fancy it and a new tent for us all would have cost more than the premier inn he booked on the cheap so win/win.
Big has returned to the festival for the evening so I'm waiting for D to settle. He's stopped bouncing on the bed now at least!


Thursday, 9 August 2012

Thursday Holding Page


Might have done this one before, but it's been a long day, I have a headache, I'm all worn out by work then watching Usain Bolt.... heck, it's cute enough for a second go.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Toddlers. Arg

Small is being a big pain at the moment. Oh not all the time, mostly he's his normal, lovely crazy self but we're going to Bloodstock on Friday so we're trying to get him to wear his ear defenders and he's resisting. Hard.

As soon as they come out he starts protesting, if they're actually put on him he shrieks and you have to hold his hands to stop him whipping them straight off. It's tears and screaming all the way until they're gone.

We tried explaining what they were for, didn't work.
We tried wearing them ourselves, didn't work
We tried letting him choose stickers to put on them, he chose but ultimately it didn't work
We tried giving him a sticker every time he wore them, didn't work.

So I have absolutely no idea what we're going to do with him at the festival. Any suggestions of how to miraculously get him to love them gratefully received.


Monday, 6 August 2012

I must have hit my head...

I am seriously considering the merits of booking one of these for next year's holiday.

It's a Camping Pod, essentially a wooden tent that neatly dispenses with the worst aspects of camping - putting the tent up and down, damp, stuffiness, discomfort. It's glamping at it's best. The ones I'm looking at are about seven square meters of floor space and are just the pod and the chairs on the deck but I've seen posher, bigger ones that are fully furnished with a wee bathroom! The basic is fine by me though, it's even got electric sockets :)
Now I know some people are going to be reading this and thinking 'wimp, just get a tent!' but I don't want to. I don't like tents, I don't like camping really but I'm willing to experiment with this compromise if it means getting another week next year like the one I've just had.
We only got that one because a kind family member gave us the money, to afford it ourselves something will have to give and for £39 a night this is probably the way.



Sunday, 5 August 2012

Essence of Land.

When I moved down to Yorkshire from Aberdeen, I wanted to bring a bit of home with me.
There are a few things that reek of the land of my birth, white pudding suppers, rowies, sunsets that look like the sky has been set on fire, the Northern Lights, granite, evil Megaseagulls From Hell. That's just for starters. None of these things are particular portable or durable however. One day not long before I was due to go, I found in a shop a kind of picture frame with a deep space between the backboard and the glass. It came with labels and sticky pads and things and the idea was that you stuck in photos and mementoes from holidays and put it on the wall as a keepsake.

I snapped it up and filled it was photos of my favourite bits of Aberdeen, added little glass phials, one filled with earth, and the other two with water from the two rivers that run through the city. I added pebbles from the beachfront and that sort of thing and it's been on my wall down here ever since. My box of home.

While I was away I resurrected the idea, with modifications, for a friend of mine.
She and her partner have not had the best of years really and they had to cancel their own Cornish holiday because of that. She was particularly gutted as she loves that part of the country as much as I do if not more.
Just before going I managed to get hold some more little glass bottles so while away I collected some water from a river in Boscastle, which I know she's fond of and some sand from a beach, some pebbles and a seashell. I popped them all into a little wooden box I picked up in Newquay. There's a little room left so she can add to it herself later if she wants to.
Today was my first chance to give it to her, and I hadn't mentioned my plans.
She seemed to really love it so I hope she gets as much from it as I do from my box.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Ok, fine. I confess

Despite my better judgement, I'm enjoying the olympics. There, I've said it.

I'm sure part of it is that it's something we can watch for really quite a while before Small snaps and starts grizzling for cbeebies and the relief of not having to watch Justin Fletcher mug all over the screen is quite immeasurable.
It also doesn't hurt that we're doing quite well, it's nice to be able to root for someone who actually has a chance of winning, even better when they do.
Big likes his athletics and cycling, which is fine but I'm finding more enjoyment in the sports which don't usually get on the tv. Judo was good, it's not every day you get to watch a couple of lasses square up and circle each other, flapping at hands and eventually getting into a grapple well, not without hair pulling and a pub backdrop anyway.

I forget I do this, I think of myself as a sport-free zone and I rarely choose to watch it but if I start watching it, I do start to enjoy it and get to care, even wonder what taking up said sport might be like. Thankfully these episodes don't last long and I'm back to couch potato-ing in front of CSI again in no time.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Fangurl moment.

I can't recall if I've mentioned it before but I'm a big Ginger Wildheart fan

Like, huge.

Like, courtesy of Big's podcast connections I once got to tag along to a interview with him, which meant I got to meet the guy and I was a total gibbering idiot. That kind of huge.

Now I know the Wildhearts are not exactly a household name. They got a little somewhere in the nineties, but between 'naughty' lyrics, an unwillingness to compromise, drug addictions and fallings out, they never quite managed to hit it as big as they deserved to. But if you take the time to seek out their stuff, it's sooo worth it. Frontman and driving force of the band is Ginger and even when he's not working with a line up under the Wildhearts name, he is always working and puts out an incredible amount of material every year. He tours at least twice year too. One year he did an acoustic tour followed by a full electric tour where he was in the support band as well. And if I remember right he was in at least one other band at the time as well. Phenomenal musician, phenomenal work ethic. And funny too, as Geordies so often are.

This time last year, Ginger experimented with that new way of funding arts projects, crowd sourcing. Using the Pledge Music website, he launched a drive to fund his new, at the time untitled, album. Going by the recommendation of the site and the experience of other artists, he set a 60 day time limit to attract the minimum required funding. He hit target within 6 hours. That is how great his fanbase is.
In the end, we all got a triple album, either in MP3 format, CD or vinyl or special fancy edition in accordance with what we pledged to buy. Then we got to nominate our favourite tracks to go on to the commercial, single album release. The triple was called 555%, to reflect how many pledges were raised at the point they decided to close pledging. The single album was called 100% .  It was just released recently and there were a few articles in the music press expressing surprise at this 'unknown' artist breaking records and successfully utilising a new way of producing music.

Tonight, he's having another go. It launched at 7pm and when I went to log in the site was crashing and they had to throw a heap of other servers behind it to cope with demand. It took me fully 50mins to successfully get my own pledge in. It's now 8:30pm and having just checked, it's at 99% of target!
That is incredible.
I know Amanda Palmer has also become a big fan of crowd sourcing through Kickstarter and I really have great hopes of it as a way forward for getting honest music out there. If the record companies won't support real musicians then we'll do it ourselves.

You can be a part of the Mutation Pledge campaign by following this link

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Aesthetics of Renewable Energy.

Now, see how remarkably intellectual and academic that title is?
That's as good as this post will get. Srsly.

I do not want to talk about the pros and cons of wind turbines, mainly because I'd have to do a lot of research and read a lot of conflicting reports and a lot of hyperbole from either side of the debate, turn my brain into cheese and still be none the wiser at the end of it.
I'm just going to deal with one aspect of the anti- camp, that they spoil the landscape.

Personally I don't see it. I quite like the things. I've been told that they are ugly, industrial structures that are at odds with the natural landscape. Well... lets think about that for a moment. Pretty as it is, the majority of the British countryside is not natural. It's an industrial farming landscape. That pretty patchwork of fields and forestry is every bit as contrived, managed and artificial as a city. The land has been irrigated, cleared, fenced, planted, reaped and rotated well beyond anything it'd be if left to itself. When you gaze upon England's Green And Pleasant Land it's worth remembering that for all it's beauty, it's no more natural in occurrence than a wind turbine.

I wonder if there were people hundreds of years ago complaining about those pretty windmills being built? If they complained about them overshadowing the fields, making a nonsense of the skyline, making them ill from the low-frequency noise from the grinding of corn?
Human nature being what is, I suspect there probably was, although I also suspect there weren't many petitions. But they were progress and they helped mankind progress until they were obsolete and now the old windmills are admired, romanticised and protected. They're seen as an enhancement to the view, a throwback to gentler, less hurried times while their modern equivalent is lambasted and campaigned against.

I'm trying very hard to resist getting into the need to move into renewable energy sources and relieve ourselves of the stranglehold fossil fuels have on us and stick to purely the visual aspect. It's hard because I desperately want to discuss the absurdity of objecting to a way of harnessing power without damaging our planet by saying you don't think it's pretty.

Instead, I'll discuss Small. Who is two years old and so far reasonably pure in his likes and dislikes. He's not old enough to have been swayed by opinions in what is good and what is bad, what is pretty and what is ugly. The kid is delighted by what he likes and gets very upset about what he doesn't like. Even though in some cases (Mr Tumble for eg) I'd like to be able to affect those choices, I can't.
Small loves wind turbines, or windmills as he calls them. He sees no difference between the house Baby Jake lives in and the wind turbines we see on car journeys. Our local train station recently put up a painting that featured wind turbines and he sobbed uncontrollably when my train came in and he had to leave the station and the painting behind.
He calls them pretty. Out of the mouths of babes.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Date Day!

Today myself and Big dropped Small off at his Grandma and Grandad's bright and early in the morning and took ourselves off for some extremely rare time just the two of us.
We both had rather mixed feelings about it as it seems a bit wrong to crave time away from our child but at the same time, it's nice to be able to just be a couple rather than two parents.

We went up to York and went around the new York's Chocolate Story museum, which is rather good. It takes about an hour to go round and costs £9.50 per adult to enter on the door. We booked online so paid a pound less each. Even that's a bit dear maybe for a hour's entertainment and the prices in the cafe and shop are terrifying - £12 for two coffees and a wee bit cake each -  but actually I found it was worth the price. The tours seem to begin every 20 mins and you are met at the beginning by a very knowledgeable and friendly guide who helps you pass the time until the tour begins with questions and trivia. Then you're taken up in the lift and introduced to your guide proper. The tour itself is beautifully laid out with interactive bits and  bits where you are taught how to properly taste all the flavours in your chocolate and how to tell good chocolate from bad. You are walked through a history of chocolate beginning with the Mayans and onto the setting up of the three big chocolate factories in York, then through the decline of those companies and where they all are today, ending with a virtual set up that walks you through the chocolate making process and a final demonstration from a real live chocolatier It's all very clever and uses cutting edge technology to make it all as interactive as possible. We got to taste a fair bit of chocolate and even the chilli-cocoa water that the Mayans drank. The chocs that were made in the demo were then handed out and were absolutely delicious. You can totally see where your entrance fee is going and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

After that we grabbed some lunch, wandered around York as we tend to do if we're given the chance and even caught a performance from my favourite York busker, The Magic Ball Man. He's a contact juggler and unlike most other York street performers he doesn't try to engage the audience in cheesy banter or talk at length about how this is only source of income so please remember to contribute at the end. He just stands there and makes a crystal ball or six fly. If you put money in the hat, he thanks you. That's all. He's amazing. The first time we saw him we had Small with us and the kid was transfixed in absolute silence for the whole show. Check him out on Facebook or Youtube.

We stopped by Leeds on the way home and ate an early tea at the new 50's American Diner style burger joint Johnny Fontanes. I'd heard mixed reviews about it so was a bit wary but it was absolutely gorgeous. They say that they make all the food from scratch every day, including cutting the fries and mincing the beef and based on what I ate today I believe them. Juicy, flavoursome cheeseburger and crispy, tasty fries just what the doctor ordered. Definitely a good meal and good value and we will return again.

All in all a very successful child-free day. I loves my Big I do.

Now I'm off to make some clotted cream ice cream with the egg yolks left over from yesterdays macaroon experiment. I'll leave you with a pic of the choccy demo from this morning.