heleninwales: (Default)
I am still active on LiveJournal but, for whatever reason, I've never felt at home on Dreamwidth. I haven't posted here for two years and I have no plans to do so in the future.

I've had to start using a new email address and was thus working through all my online accounts updating my details, so when I came to Dreamwidth, I thought I'd just add a note to say that I'm very much alive and still posting, just not here.
heleninwales: (Default)

The title says it all really. I left Worldcon in London last Monday, travelled to Leamington Spa to visit my elderly dad who had been ill and taken to hospital. (Don't worry, he's fine now and back in the delightful care home where he's lived for the past 12 months!) Then I travelled home to be faced with laundry from the trip, catching up with food shopping, taking the car into the garage to get the slow puncture repaired (it had picked up a nail somewhere), trying to drum up students for the computing degree, receiving the bad news of my students' GCSE English re-sit results (awful!) and finally helping my husband put his programming book together ready for self-publishing.

So there's been no time for fun or taking decent photos this week, sadly. All you get is this crappy selfie taken with my phone.

Too much time on the computer, not enough time to play
heleninwales: (Default)
Yesterday was my final day at Loncon (the World SF convention). The convention actually continues until early afternoon, but after four days of mingling with large numbers of people, I am always peopled-out, so I had planned to head home today anyway. In fact I won't get home until tomorrow because I'm doing a slight detour via my brother's house to visit my Dad, who is much improved. In fact he may be well enough to leave hospital and return to the care home where he's lived happily for the last 12 months.

I'll do a proper report on the convention when I get back and have downloaded photos and have proper internet access again. Sadly the little Asus Eee (along with the mobile broadband dongle) that has proved so valuable for mobile internet access over the years is definitely showing its age and very few sites still work with the old browser. It is, however, still useful as a mobile word processor. The keyboard may be small, but I can touch type on it and it is far far better then using the phone's virtual keyboard.

I also want to apologise for not commenting on your LJ posts while I've been away. Until this last LJ update, the Eee could do that, now it can't. Also, I can no longer access Flickr. I really hate having to abandon equipment and gagdets that still work perfectly but have been superceded by the latest software that is not backwards compatible. :(
heleninwales: (Default)
The journey down to London was fine and I found my way to the LSE Bankside Hall of residence without any problems. I checked in, freshened up and then travelled via Tube and DLR (Docklands Light Railway) to the Excel Exhibition Centre where the convention is being held.

It is huuuuuuge!

Lots of people. Immense dealers' room. A plethora of panels to attend.

So far I have seen and chatted to several old friends and failed to find others. I ate a chicken burger because I hadn't eaten since breakfast. I attended an interesting panel on languages, which would have been even more interesting if the moderator hadn't been quite so rigid in his moderation and let the discussion flow more naturally. But it was fine and afterwards I chatted to more old friends before calling it a day and heading back to my room for the night.

Old railway

Apr. 5th, 2014 09:37 pm
heleninwales: (photography camera)
14/52 for the group 2014 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: N is for Never again!

This nearly stumped me, until this morning, desperation led to inspiration.

The Mawddach Trail was one of the railway lines that succumbed to the Beeching Axe in the 1960s. It has now reinvented itself as a walking and cycling trail, as featured on a few TV programmes, including Michael Portillo's railway journeys following his trusty Bradshaw's guide.

Never again will a train run along this track, but I wondered what it might look like if one tried! :)

Old railway
heleninwales: (photography camera)

Also 7 ~ Green for the Flickr group 52 in 2014

It was a warm but damp and drizzly day. However, I did venture out this afternoon for a bit of exercise and to take photos.

Here are some new, bright green hawthorn leaves sprinkled with raindrops.

New green hawthorn leaves

I walked along the old railway that is now the Mawddach Trail. (Photo behind the cut...) )

Not far from home, I saw the first local lambs of the year. The farmers round here in North West Wales tend to lamb quite late. The ewes give birth outdoors, so we don't see lambs until April.

New lambs
heleninwales: (photography camera)
13/52 for the group 2014 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: M is for Macro

Pussy willow catkin

I'm not entirely happy with this photo. The focus is a smidgen soft. I could have done with brighter light to reduce the shutter speed. As it was, I only managed a couple of shots that were in focus. My tripod isn't really heavy enough to hold the camera perfectly still when it has the big zoom/macro lens on it.

Anyway, spring is definitely starting to spring and the trees are all busy throwing out catkins and filling the air with pollen -- which is making me sneeze!

In other news...

I saw the first bumblebee of the year yesterday while I was out walking Brith.

I have removed all the grass that had, over the past few years, sneakily spread onto the concrete path at the front of our house. I found an edging tool in the garage that I didn't remember buying or in fact ever seeing before. I eventually decided that, as it was unlikely that it had been left by the gardening fairies, I must have acquired it when we cleared Dad's garage. I must have grabbed it as something useful that we didn't already possess, shoved it in the car, unloaded it when I reached home and then promptly forgotten all about it. Anyway, it was just the thing and cut through the turf, leaving a neat edge. I rolled up the grass and soil and have put it out at the back on the area where I'm trying to make a patio of sorts, where I can sit out if/when the weather is nice.
heleninwales: (Default)
1. The thing that the next-door-but-one neighbour is building in his back garden is not a greenhouse, as I first thought, but a giant shed. He has started putting the roof on this morning. It really is huge for a garden shed. It's almost big enough to get a small car in. Assuming, that is, that the door had been made large enough. And also assuming that it was actually possible to get a car round the side of the house -- which it isn't.

2. It's Mother's Day tomorrow in the UK and my daughter sent chocolates. I have no willpower and succumbed and opened them last night. (It has been a stressful couple of weeks and I needed chocolate.) But this newfangled thing about putting salt in chocolate? Do not like. :( Fortunately only two types contain salted nuts.

3. I need to get a better light in my study-cum-workroom. I'd sewed the faces and eyes on the Easter bunnies yesterday evening. When I looked this morning, I'd put one little bunny face on the wrong side. All sorted out now, but very irritating.

4. The trees on the swamp beyond the bottom of our garden are all busy having sex. I have finally been forced to admit that I am allergic to tree pollen. I keep sneezing and my eyes feel hot and sticky.

5. And finally, (via a post on Twitter) another Amazon review thread has gone rogue :) You might like to read the reviews of this LoTR ring, which had been described as "Tengwar Script Men's Lord Prayer Ring Comfort Fit Black IP Stainless Steel Size 9 10 11 12 13"

An example of what people are saying:

"Not what I expected

I bought this as a prayer ring for reciting the Lord's Prayer before bed, as you do. But when I put it on and read the words out loud, I found myself standing at the food of a large tower, staring up at a flaming eye. God doesn't look like I thought He would. I'm still giving this three stars though, because the script is pretty."

Read all the reviews here...
heleninwales: (photography camera)
Tutsan berries by Helen in Wales
Tutsan berries, a photo by Helen in Wales on Flickr.

For the group 52 in 2014
No. 34 ~ Berry/Berries

This tutsan plant (Hypericum androsaemum) appeared in the garden last summer. It had pretty yellow flowers and had planted itself in a sensible place, so I let it stay. It has had these black berries on it all winter. They're just starting to burst.

Oh, and as you can see, I've found myself another 52 week group on Flickr. Despite the name, this isn't the same group as the 52 in 2012 and 2013 that I joined. I enjoyed the challenges that group set, but I didn't join this year because it had started to become tedious rather than fun as the same topics were coming round again for the third time. It was also frustrating trying to achieve a particular topic when the weather and work schedule were against me. This different 52 in 2014 group has a more laid back approach. There are 52 topics, but you can take the photos in any week, so it will be much more flexible and I will no longer be struggling with the weather or gnashing my teeth in frustration because I have the perfect shot but it was take a day too early or late.

The other good thing is that if you want, you can upload up to 2 photos per week. That means that even though I started late, there's no reason why I can't bag all 52 subjects.
heleninwales: (Default)
Frost & dew


This morning was the coldest for a long time, possibly the coldest all winter. There was frost on the conservatory glass and also on the grass outside. It was rapidly melting in the bright sunshine, though now the weather has changed again and after a sunny day, it's pouring with rain.

I find this a difficult time of year for energy levels and depression. It ought to be good because the days are lengthening and I no longer wake and get up in the dark, but whether it's the rapidly changing day length or just that the academic year is ramping up to all the end of year assessments, I always find spring stressful.

Anyway, for whatever reason, I've spent the day mentally floundering around trying to plan the lessons for tomorrow. Both the computing students and the GCSE English group need to do an assessment and I need to observe them. I haven't done observations for quite a few years, hence the feeling stressed, but I think I have sorted everything out now, I know what I need to do and I just want to write a couple of quick lesson plans so I'm not trying to wing it tomorrow.
heleninwales: (Default)
It's been one of those days when I don't feel as though I've achieved much, yet if I list it, it actually is a reasonable amount of progress. As well as the usual daily tasks of cooking food and clearing up afterwards, I have:

* More or less finished creating the epic PowerPoint presentation about why English spelling is so unpredictable. (Just need to add some tips on how to improve one's spelling.)
* Finished crocheting the third and final Easter basket
* Crocheted the other half of a pot holder to use up the last of the Craft Cotton
* Proof read G's paper for a maths education journal

Of course what I haven't done is made any progress with spring cleaning the house or improving the garden. This makes me feel frustrated and guilty, especially as the new next-door-but-one neighbours have been beavering away in their garden since they moved in. They have laid gravel and paving stones and, today, began erecting a large wooden frame. Possibly a green house?
heleninwales: (afternoon tea)
I won't be going to EasterCon this year. Easter is often a difficult time for me to get away. G is always up to his eyes in student projects and it's also one of the best times to see the offspring and grand-offspring. Besides, it's still taking me all my time and energy to keep up with the preparation and marking for courses I'm teaching. However, I am finding the time to make cute crochet bunnies and little Easter baskets as presents.

If you want to read more, there are pictures here in my crochet blog...
heleninwales: (afternoon tea)
I do love predictive text errors, they're often more amusing than boring old typos and they also give you some mental exercise in working out what the poster meant to say.

Here are a couple from this morning's posts on the Creative Crochet Crew Group on Facebook.

From someone asking how to stop her attempts at Tunisian crochet curling up.

"...was getting a little irritating, so wanted onions before going on since i keep frogging[*] it."

A sudden craving for pickles, one wonders? :)

Also this was below a photo of pretty crochet stars.

"They are just great , I could see them as a hanging moral for kiddies room."

Very Victorian that one. I'm sure they would have approved of having "hanging morals" in the nursery to encourage good behaviour.

[*] To "frog" is crochet or knitting slang for unravelling something. Origin: You are going to rip it, rippit, rippit, rippit!
heleninwales: (photography camera)
Padlock keyhole by Helen in Wales
Padlock keyhole, a photo by Helen in Wales on Flickr.

11/52 for the group 2014 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: K is for Keyhole

To be honest, this keyhole in a padlock on an old barn looks pretty gunged up. I have no idea whether you'd actually be able to unlock it. It would certainly need a bit of a clean and a squirt of oil.

Also, I just thought I'd mention that a few minutes ago, when I came to post this photo from Flickr, I received this message.

"We are deprecating the support for sharing to LiveJournal on 3/25."

*Sigh!* I know that LiveJournal is no longer as popular as it once was and I know that I can copy and paste the HTML, but it was so convenient being able to post direct from Flickr.

I went to the relevant thread in the Flickr forum and left a message saying how sad I was that such a useful feature was being discontinued.

I also pointed out that "deprecate" doesn't mean what they seem to think it means. What the message should have said was "We are terminating the support for sharing to LiveJournal on 3/25." They've obviously been deprecating it for ages, ie (according to my dictionary) arguing or protesting against it.

heleninwales: (Default)
As I mentioned on LJ at the time, I abandoned my main Twitter account back in June of last year. Then in December, I had problems with the account I'd been using to practise Welsh. The account was hacked and taken over by spammers. I was mightily pee-ed off with Twitter for a while and didn't miss it.

However, I have decided that because Twitter seems to have become such a big thing, trying to ignore it might not be a good idea, so I have set up a brand new account. I've found quite a lot of my online friends, but there are one or two whose Twitter names I can't remember. If you are one of my LJ friends and want me to follow you, let me know in a comment what your Twitter name is. Otherwise follow me and I'll follow back. I'm now @Castanwydden, which is Welsh for Horse Chestnut Tree, in case you wondered.

In other news, it's a glorious sunny day here. It's not raining, the sky is blue and the birds are singing. I think spring may have sprung.
heleninwales: (photography camera)
Small scissors by Helen in Wales
Small scissors, a photo by Helen in Wales on Flickr.

10/52 for the group 2014 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's topic was: J is for Joint

I looked up the definition of scissors and this is what it said:

noun plural but singular or plural in construction \ˈsi-zərz\

: a tool used for cutting paper, cloth, etc., that has two blades joined together in the middle so that the sharp edges slide against each other."

If the two blades are "joined in the middle" I hope this counts as a "joint". :)

The crochet that the scissors are resting on will be an Easter bunny. The plan is to crochet them for the grandchildren to include with some Easter chocolate.
heleninwales: (photography camera)

9/52 for the group 2014 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This weeks challenge was: I is for Invert

I tried to find an upside down thing to photograph, but failed to spot a suitable subject. I therefore went for the technical challenge of using the filter in PhotoShop to invert the colours. After trying a couple that didn't really work, I hit on this photo of the place I used to work in London. To my surprise, the filter worked really well.

Back in the early 70s when I worked there, Elizabeth House was the offices of the Department of Education and Science. Now, however, it is empty and to let.

heleninwales: (Muddle on)
If I seem to have been more than usually quiet, it's just the result of a weekend away in London followed by coming straight back to a busier than normal teaching week.

Also, though I normally have mobile internet access when I'm away from home, I was unaware that Vodafone had recently changed the way they charge for mobile broadband, so the dongle didn't work. :( I was therefore reduced to the free 30 minutes of WiFi offered by the hotel which, due to reasons too complicated and boring to explain, could only be accessed with the iPod.

I really need to re-examine my mobile computing solutions now I'm no longer teaching online, especially as the Asus Eee is showing its age. I'll be eligible to upgrade my mobile phone in a couple of weeks and the answer is probably just to get a proper smartphone which will replace both the dongle and the little point-and-shoot camera, which is now about 9 years old. Anyway, I have a plenty of time to solve these problems before I go away again for longer than a day out.

Otherwise, I thought I'd mention that I've decided to go to Worldcon in August. I'm planning to do what I did for the London Eastercon, namely stay somewhere cheap away from the convention site and just commute in each day. I used to like staying up late talking in the bar, but I get peopled out very quickly these days, not to mention tired! I haven't worked out all the details yet, but in principle, I'll be going so I hope to see a lot of my old friends there.
heleninwales: (photography camera)

According to the forecasters, the worst of the storms is behind us. There is still more wet, windy weather to come and it is very blustery today, but the storms will be less intense and less frequent. Perhaps eventually it will be spring?

Anyway, this was what gladdened my heart earlier this week as I looked out of the window.

Morning rainbow

It seemed like a sign after the biblical floods and storms we've been having. I even started recalling verses remembered from long ago Sunday school:

"The waters were dried from off the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry." (Genesis 8:13)

Well, our ground was certainly dry. In fact it was only flooded for a few brief hours on Saturday morning. Meanwhile, they're still waiting for the water to subside in many places in the south and east of England. :(

Anyway, here is what our little flood looked like. This is the very bottom of our long garden.

The bottom of garden

Strangely, despite the almost constant rain over the past three months, this is only the second time that the bottom of our garden has flooded. But two days of solid rain on top of already saturated soil finally proved more than the river could cope with.

Fortunately our house is in no danger because it's built on a hill and it's quite a climb from here to our back door!

Our house on a hill

Thankfully, the only thing we have to worry about is a few weeds being inundated!
heleninwales: (photography camera)

8/52 for the group 2014 weekly alphabet challenge

This week's theme was: H is for Hobby

Ironically, I was so wrapped up in my hobby of crocheting this week that I forgot to take a photo for this theme before the deadline of Saturday. Fortunately, I had taken a photo of this cushion within the correct time framce to upload to Ravelry. :)

It is, therefore, not very artistic or photographically exciting, but it fits the theme perfectly.

The cushion only took a few days and was a quick project to use up more of the Marble Chunky from my stash. It’s intended to match the corner-to-corner blanket which I made using the yarn that had been reclaimed from frogged items or bought for projects that never happened. It will be the first of an ongoing series that I'm calling "Pimp those cushions!" Basically, I've decided that all our cushions are looking a bit drab and tired and need cheering up with new, brighter, crochet covers.

The back is fastened very simply with four buttons. The pattern creates natural button holes, so there was no need to do anything fancier.

Button fastening

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