Thursday, 30 April 2009

Camping etiquette.........

As members of the Caravan Club, we get a monthly magazine full of stuff about camping, campsites, new products, test reports on caravans, motor homes, tow cars etc.

I was leafing through the latest issue earlier today when I came across an interesting snippet.

Apparently, camping has now become very hip and cool, and people are taking it up in their droves as a cheap alternative to package holidays in hot places full of foreigners and swine flu.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about that........all these Johnny Come Lately types muscling in on MY leisure time pursuit, with their screaming kids and their killer dogs, drunkenly carousing till all hours of the morning and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

Well OK, they're not all like that. But my heart does sink when I'm sitting quietly in our awning/tent, enjoying the peace and quiet, immersed in a good book, and a huge, great 4x4 arrives, towing a leviathan caravan. It sinks even further when the back doors open and a load of kids spill out, named respectively Wayne, Dwayne, Shane, Darren, Kyle, Kylie, Chardonnay, Bianca, Tiffany and Sharron.

Plus a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Butch.

Each child has a bicycle, which they proceed to ride around the site at breakneck speed, through other people's pitches, between awnings, a hairsbreadth from cars and caravans.....the dog barks its head off if anyone sets foot within half a mile of it. Once on site and set up, the parents completely abrogate all responsibility for their spawn, instead delighting in exposing acres of sunburnt flesh complete with builder's bum, while keeping up a running commentary on the minutiae of their lives so that everyone can hear.

It's the camping equivalent of cretins on trains who bellow into their mobile phones at every opportunity.

As with everything else in this life, there is an etiquette regarding the acceptable way to behave in any given situation. I don't blame them for not knowing how to behave first time out, but surely some discrete observation of how other people are doing it might be a good idea.

OK, I'll get down off my soapbox now. I'll be signing off as 'disgusted of St. Leonards' at this rate.

Anyway, the whole point of this post, before I came over all reactionary and militant, was this...........

My daughter when she was very young, loved Sylvanian Families, and despite my feminist reservations, they were then really quite good quality and encouraged imaginative play.

This little ensemble is very cute, and obviously pandering to the zeitgeist.

Not quite sure about reinforcing stereotypical gender roles though. I know of no caravan which has an integral ironing board so that mummy rabbit can do some impromptu pressing.

Love this innovative foldaway toilet.... hope young master bunnikins has flushed it first though........eewwww!

It must only be a four berth caravan, despite the novel sleeping arrangements built into the roof, so I expect the grandparents are only visiting. Looks like a mother rabbit's work is never done though, as she slaves away in the admittedly stylish kitchen. I expect pater familias is out hunter-gathering......or preparing the BBQ. Although as rabbits are vegetarian that might be a bit redundant.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting to see how current lifestyles influence the playthings of today. And nice to see how well behaved the bunny children are too. They are a lesson to us all.....

Epilate, exfoliate, sandblast...........

In a spirit of bravado, I revealed in my last post that I would be exposing my legs in shorts and sandals over the course of the bank holiday weekend.

Having just re-assessed aforementioned appendages, I am now in two minds.

I should point out that my shorts are quite long. Below knee length. So not very short.

However my legs are.


So the effect of the two combined is, admittedly, comical.

In addition, they are also in urgent need of being deforested. I suppose I could plait the hairs in a boho styley, but the fact that my pins are not exactly gamine, would, I fear, detract from the overall effect.

So there's nothing else for it. I am going to have to go the whole nine yards and epilate (ouch), exfoliate (more ouch) and very possibly sandblast (eye-watering ouch) to achieve a smooth and glossy surface to properly reflect the sun for maximum glare.

Ditto feet, which have been concealed in socks and shoes/boots all winter, and bear an uncanny resemblance to those of Lon Chaney as the Wolf Man.

If I make a start now I might be done by morning..............

Have dongle, will travel.............

Our new sleek and shiny dongle thingy arrived in the post this morning. Just in the nick of time as we're setting off tomorrow morning to go camping over the bank holiday weekend.

So I'll be taking my laptop and hoping that the dongle self-installs quickly and easily and gets a brilliant signal.

Might even post a few blog dispatches just to see how well it works!

Small dog is beside herself with excitement at the prospect of yet another camping weekend, this time at her very favourite site with the lakeside walks and baby animals.

As the weather forecast is good (unbelievably so for a bank holiday weekend) I have today unearthed my shorts and sandals and am girding my loins to expose my winter-white shins to the general populace. Fortunately, most camping types are very easy going, extremely casual-bordering-on-scruffy individuals, so the glare from my legs hopefully will go completely unnoticed and raise no comment.

Or sniggers.

Apart that is, from small dog who will laugh her silly head off when I emerge from the campervan, short-clad for the first time this year. I will try to rise above her ribald remarks and maintain a sense of dignity and decorum as I know for a fact that she has absolutely no sartorial savoir faire and thinks that an outfit fashioned from an old sock is the height of sophistication.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Font of all knowledge.........

Despite the sun shining fit to bust all day today, I have been hard at work indoors.

Two casting sessions, stocktaking check and several hours productive work on my book, which is finally, after several months of faffing about, beginning to take shape. I'm still a few years away from retirement but I've had in mind to put my quarter of a century worth of experience in the miniature world to good use and pen a series of instructive manuals on various different topics.

It's much, much harder than I thought it would be. All the knowledge of how to do stuff is in my head, and I've had years of practice at writing easy to understand instructions and can make a reasonable fist of the macro photography, but those aren't the problem.

Every time I try to plan the layout and design I end up with a mish-mash of different styles and formats, none of which are quite what I'm aiming for.

The whole thing would be a lot easier if I actually KNEW what I was aiming for but I'm hoping I will stumble across the perfect layout by accident.

And don't even get me started on fonts.

I now know more about fonts than can be good for anyone who is not a professional font designer or typographer. For example, who would have thought there could be a font called Girls are Weird..........?

In the process of my font research I've come to realise that I'm very font sensitive.....I get all nervy and jangly if I read something which is in a completely inappropriate font. Fonts are something we take for granted and if they're doing their job right, we're hardly even aware of them, at least in normal body text.

However selecting an appropriate font for a project is a nightmare. I don't want anything too formal, but also I don't want it too look like a nursery school reading book. It's got to be easy on the eye as there will be a lot of textual information, but I also want it to stand out from the crowd. Also I'll probably have different fonts in headings and text boxes and they all have to look kind of unified and not fight with each other visually.

Initially I'd been thinking along the lines of something in a plain cursive script but having tried out various fonts on a piece of text, that would be way too much hard work to read. I think I want san serif with no twiddly bits but I keep getting distracted by the zillions of fonts available on the internet.

I've trawled through the Top 10 Fonts lists of dozens of design 'experts' and I'm not even close to that eureka moment of discovering my perfect typeface.

If anyone in the blogosphere has a favourite, do feel free to leave a comment and I'll check it out.

Anyway, after I'd done some desultory font-finding, I changed tack and did some research on pleating, which is not in itself a particularly fascinating subject. However as a result I found this little gem of a blog which I'll flag up as this week's 'featured artisan'.

Monday, 27 April 2009


The worst thing about coming back from a few days away is the mountain of emails which flood into my inbox, despite my best efforts with spam filters, firewalls, electric fences and laptop-to-air guided missiles.
It's taken me several tries today to get to the bottom of the influx, clear out all the garbage, rescue the genuine emails, untangle them from the junk and leave them gasping for air to recover.


We have bought a dongle.

PP was assigned the task of wading through the labyrinthine terms and conditions of the top 10 mobile broadband suppliers to identify the cheapest, most highly rated, no contract, no fees, pay-as-you-go with no monthly usage commitment package.


What's a dongle?

*deep sigh* Oh alright...........I didn't actually know what a dongle was either, but isn't it a really good name and much better than the possible alternative of 'Wireless and Non-Kinetic Ethernet Receiver', although on reflection the acronym may have put the kibosh on that one.

A dongle is a thingummy you plug into a whatsit port on the side of your portable computer notebook doobry which allows you to connect to the interweb, wirelessly and spontaneously, while camping in the middle of nowhere.

Don't ask me how it works for I have no idea. I think it has something to do with fairy whispers being carried through the air on invisible gossamer threads, to a celestial telephone exchange where the binary pixies decipher them and pass them on.

But don't quote me on that.

Anyways, all being well, it will arrive in good time for our next camping trip, for which rain and gale force winds are forecast. The perfect opportunity to hole up in a cosy little campervan and marvel at the wonders of technology. Always assuming we can set it up and get a signal.

And before the nay-sayers among you weigh in with:

"But I thought you went camping to get away from the tyranny of the laptop, emails, work and all that...."

Yes, well.........there's no answer to that one. Should have thought this blog post through a bit more carefully really.

*shuffles off fridgewards in the hope of liberating some suitably chilled liquid refreshment... it's been a looooooong day*

Home again, home again......jiggety jig

After 4 whole days of drop dead gorgeous weather.......sun shining from a brilliant blue, cloudless sky, and little noise 'cept the sleepy buzz of bees, the cooing of courting wood pigeons and the occasional cuckoo in the middle distance, I have returned from my birthday camping trip.

Woke this morning to dull grey skies and steady rain which looks set for the day. The weather has shown perfect timing for once, and I don't mind at all that it's damp and miserable outside as I am replete with the great outdoors for the time being.

I was mercilessly pampered on my birthday.......relaxing in the sunshine sipping chilled white wine while PP and small dog arranged everything, from a delicious three course dinner to a plethora of presents.

The campsite itself was one we hadn't visited before, but it's not usual in the UK to be able to sit with a view of a herd of rhino grazing on a gentle slope a few fields distant. Previous campers had mentioned spotting giraffe and zebra too, but we didn't see any. Presumably they were on vacation in another paddock.

My presents included some wonderful stationery (I LOVE STATIONERY!!!) and these fantabulous Timberlands which I've coveted for some time.

Other more esoteric gifts from friends included a pale lavender ukulele and a glow-in-the-dark hula hoop. I have it in mind, in the fullness of time, to unveil a novelty variety act combining virtuoso ukulele playing while simultaneously performing acrobatic feats of hula-hooping so keep a look out for me on Britain's Got Talent at some future date.

However, in the early hours of Saturday morning, my MS gremlins ( NOT to be confused with the displacement goblins, who are altogether more benign) decided that I'd been having way too much fun and decided to issue a severe reprimand. This took the form of having me wake to the sensation of being submerged in oceans of pain, which were only slightly allayed by a large dose of mega heavy duty painkillers. These in turn zonked me out for a large part of the day and rendered me incomprehensibly insensible without a drop of alcohol having passed my lips.

Thankfully, over the course of yesterday, (Sunday) the pain subsided sufficiently to allow me to enjoy a wonderful birthday lunch laid on by friends en route back home, and this morning, *touch wood* I am almost back to what passes for normal.

Fortunately, when we returned, the house was still standing. Am I the only person who is pleasantly surprised to return home after even only one night away, to find that the house hasn't burnt to the ground in my absence, or expecting to round the corner on our way up the hill to see a clutch of police cars and 'Crime Scene' tape all around the front garden? I ALWAYS expect to see a smouldering heap of charred ruins, or the scene of a ghastly murder.

Anyway, it's back to work today and lots of lost time to make up. Small dog, as predicted, is fast asleep in her basket, working hard at reversing her nap deficit. I still have several hundred emails to sift through, scanning for a glimmer of gold amongst the dross. Not to mention writing up the copious notes from one of my birthday notebooks. Then in deference to the greyness outside, I may clear the decks to start some long overdue casting, in the hope that the Radio 4 afternoon play will be suitably engrossing.

And speaking of engrossing, here is small dog attempting to hypnotise my birthday cake..........

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Don't leave it too late...........

My last post seems to have resonated with many people judging from the comments and emails I've received since.

I'm a firm believer in 'what's for you won't go past you', not to mention Carpe Diem so it's fair to say that we have decided to put in train a series of events, which we hope won't be unfortunate.

I am particularly heartened by Joyce's comment ..... 'Don't leave it too late'.

Anyhoo......we're off on a camping expedition to celebrate my birthday tomorrow and I suspect the main topic of conversation, while we're barbecuing our dinner, sitting watching the sunset will be 'The Plan'.

I'm taking my notebook..............

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


An impending birthday usually brings on a bout of introspection, navel-gazing and a re-evaluation of life circumstances, goals and ambitions, current rating on the happiness quotient etc.

Last year was my big 5-0 so turning 51 this Thursday does have a certain element of anti-climax. However, my annual life evaluation process has thrown up some interesting and exciting possibilities involving change of direction, change of address and change of life (not in the physiological sense but it can't be far off).

We're still in the preliminary stages of discussing ideas and options, however slowly but surely a plan is forming.

An unconventional, flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants sort of plan, which, the more we think about it, the more appealing it becomes.

Of course we could be completely barking mad and all will turn to dust but it might.... just might, work out really well.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Oh what a tangled web(site)......

Back at work today after a weekend of 50th birthday celebrations for one of our camping friends. I think I'm suffering a hedonism overload.

So after the exacting mental rigours of doing the annual accounts last week I am easing myself back into work today by starting to reorganise the Diminutive Dolls website and doing some long overdue maintenance.

The 'back end' of the site, where all the administration takes place and the various item categories, shopping cart and clever stuff reside has become unbelievably cluttered and needs a good clear out. This is always rather nerve-wracking as I'm terrified lest I inadvertently delete the whole internet by mistake.

However I've been in there today with a virtual broom and given it a thorough spring clean so now at least I can see the structure more clearly. Now I need to go about renaming categories and redistributing various items, adding new ones and deleting others.

It's quite slow and painstaking work as each tiny change must be's akin to making fine adjustments to a large picture frame on a wall, then having to walking back to view it from a distance to check it's straight.

Each adjustment in the back end of the site must be checked at the front end, on the live site to see it's working ok, looks as it should and hasn't impacted on the functionality. I've made the mistake in the past of spending hours making changes, only to find that nothing works properly and then having the devil's own job trying to track down the offending item(s)'s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. So now I always, check, check and CHECK again.

However it's not a particularly fascinating task, and I keep getting sidetracked then ambushed by the displacement goblins.

Not to mention counting down the hours till my birthday on Thursday, when I'm being whisked off for a few days of bucolic camping with PP and Small Dog. So it's shaping up to be another short working week.


Friday, 17 April 2009

Blatant Plagiarism...

I have finally been released from purdah.

Doing the annual accounts has taken me three whole days.


Late this afternoon I finally emerged blinking into the light of day, pale, emaciated and SERIOUSLY dehydrated. Currently the dining room looks like this...

Not only is the whole table covered in drifts of receipts and invoices, the floor is also awash with detritus, meaning I have to wade carefully in and out of the room, trying not to cause a tsunami.

But it's Friday night, and the weekend is nigh so I'm making a point of catching up on all the displacement activity I've missed.

Thankfully, fellow bloggers have been filling the void so I've unscrupulously pinched this from Grey Area after almost choking to death on a glass of medicinally rehydrating wine while watching it.

This gem was just one of a series of 10 Dogville Comedies made by MGM in the late 1920's. Apparently the whole series is available on DVD so I'm adding it to my Christmas list NOW!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Slugging it out..........

Small dog has become a slug magnet.

Every time she comes in from her evening garden perimeter check she brings at least one of the slimy little buggers back in with her, attached to her fur. I let her back in from the garden a few minutes ago and she followed me into the sitting room and jumped up on my lap.

As I sat, idly stroking her, my fingers encountered a large, wet lump on her chest. Further investigation revealed a slug woven into her silky fur.


Earlier this evening, she brought a baby one in with her and deposited it on the kitchen floor by her water bowl. Perhaps she regards them as not very exciting pets. In any case, once on the floor they show a remarkable turn of speed not usually associated with slugs, and scoot off under the fridge, presumably to reappear at lights out.

Mental note to self: Do NOT under any circumstances come downstairs in the night barefoot. Slug slime is the most tenacious substance known to man and in my experience, invariably has to be scraped off the sole of the foot with a knife.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Rod envy...........

I have spent all afternoon preparing to do the annual accounts, an endeavour which will probably take me till the end of the week.

The initial stages are fairly straightforward with interspersed with periods of intense frustration.
Firstly I have to clear the dining room table and prepare a 'working' area. This area must contain

  • One DAB radio
  • Paper shredder
  • Waste paper bin
  • Ruler
  • Sharp pencil
  • Pen
  • Calculator
  • Additional number pad to connect to laptop
  • 12 large envelopes
These items are all placed neatly in their allotted spaces and I can then move on to stage two, which involves a mini-mountaineering trip into the spare room to retrieve assorted boxes, carrier bags and envelopes containing all last year's bank statements, business credit card statements, receipts and related paperwork.

Then comes the frustrating bit........ sorting through each and every bit of paper and filing it in the appropriate envelope. So far I have 'lost' 3 bank statements and 2 credit card statements. I know they're there somewhere, which means I've mis-filed them. Which means going through all the envelopes again to see if they've inadvertently stowed away.

Assuming the missing statements come to light, I will then be in a position to move onto stage three.......working through each month's accounts using an Excel spreadsheet, in the vain hope that everything will tally.

I know that it is a vain hope, because I do it every year. The bank statement should tally with the receipts and payments, which in turn should tally with the credit card statements.
In theory it's simple.

In practice, after I've sorted through each month's receipts and payments there is almost always a discrepancy which has to be hunted down like a dog, dragged snapping and yelping back into line and forcibly subdued till all the numbers match and I can put a neat little tick in the 'correct' box.

The process is slow and painstaking and it makes me crabby and unpleasant to be around. I develop permanent frown lines and get repetitive strain injury from tapping away on the number pad.

Numbers dance before my eyes and decimal points weave backwards and forwards in wildly unpredictable patterns. Zeros multiply exponentially, then mysteriously disappear.

I can't remember exactly when I fell out of love with numbers. At primary school, at least in the very early years, I used to relish sums and doing the thing with the tens and units.

We all had a little cloth bag full of wooden rods which we'd use to help with simple arithmetical calculations and to enable us to see the relationships between numbers in a visual form.

I always kept my rods pristine, and loved the smooth, tactile feel of them. They even had a special smell. I loved the way they clicked together. How they made adding and taking away soooo easy. I was even inspired to experiment with three dimensional numbers, standing the rods up on end instead of laying them flat on my desk. When it all got too much I could make pleasing patterns with them, or make animals and houses.

To this day I still visualise the numbers up to ten in the colours of my cuisenaire rods.

I suppose when I moved up to the big school, rods were considered too childish, as they disappeared from our desks to be replaced with proper squared exercise books, in which we laboriously worked on devilishly hard sums. I remember sobbing with despair while struggling with long division, or dreadful 'problems'.

My heart would sink when confronted with

A man digs a hole 6 feet wide by 4 feet 8 inches wide by 3 yards deep. How many pitchers of water containing 5 4/9ths of a gallon will it take to fill it?

My mind would become an instant blank and I'd sit mute with misery, tears rolling down my cheeks to turn my exercise book into a sodden mess, full of 'rubbings out'.

The time before morning playtime could never come quickly enough as our days were regimented into sums first thing, then English after playtime. Except when the teacher would spring a surprise mental arithmetic test just before dinner time.

Oral mental arithmetic was a special level of hell reserved just for me. I would tremulously await my turn, stomach churning, mouth bone dry, my entire body flushing bright crimson, while all around me classmates fidgeted and sniggered at my inability to answer the question.

Any question.

I used to toy with the idea of feigning a fit, or dropping into a swoon. Even wetting myself would have been less embarrassing and it was a close run thing at times.

And so my brief but ecstatic love affair with numbers was cruelly cut short. Nowadays I do try to cultivate a reasonable relationship with Excel........after all it does all the calculations for me and presumably gets them right. Which is more than I can do.

But all the pleasure is gone. Never more will I experience the frisson of anticipation and excitement caused by the words

"Now children, we're going to do some sums. Take out your rods.........."

Feels like Monday............

I really need to get back to work today but there's a definite Monday morning feeling in the air and I can't quite seem to get galvanised into doing anything useful.

I'm trying to ease myself back into work mode by doing some essential paperwork and paying some bills. Then I could usefully clear the decks to start organising my marathon accounts session, heralded by the end of the tax year last week.

Then of course there are some outstanding orders to package and post. Not to mention a swathe of 'To Do' lists which require pruning.

So all in all, there is plenty to keep me gainfully occupied today. If I could just shake off this lingering Monday morning malaise......

Monday, 13 April 2009

What I did in the Easter holidays.........

So, we have arrived home, a tad wind-burnt and tired but content, following our first camping trip of the year. The campervan has been unpacked, small dog is dedicatedly catching up on her missed naps, and I've finished wading through the 500+ emails which flooded into my inbox.

It was a calm and restful weekend, during which I did little else but relax and enjoy the company of friends. Aside from a few light showers, the weather was pleasant with sufficient warm, sunny spells to ensure that we spent 95% of each day in the great outdoors.

Days were spent reading, chatting, strolling round the lake, watching the antics of fellow campers erecting tents and awnings etc. PP spent many happy hours foraging for wood and twigs for our evenings round the fire pit, while Small Dog fully implemented her 24 hour DuckWatch programme, springing into action if any feathered foe so much as put a webbed foot within the boundaries of our pitch.

Evenings were set aside for cosy communal meals, with good food, free-flowing wine, much laughter and general bonhomie.

On our final evening we decided to jettison any pretence of nouvelle cuisine and opted to replicate a full scale 'comfort food' BBQ. All four dogs gave this idea a firm 'paws up' presumably at the prospect of a two-thirds of a cooked sausage each. This largesse on our part provided the first stumbling block of the evening as we then had to work out how to divide 16 3/8 sausages by 6.

Division of fractions isn't my strong suit at the best of times, and after a few glasses of wine my admittedly 'hit and miss' arithmetical skills certainly don't improve any. All six of us struggled for a while trying to work it out in our heads, inevitably arrived at wildly differing answers and then sneered at each other in a good-natured way for being such computational doofuses.

In terms of cooking equipment, J+B had brought along their swanky new fire pit, but PP and I let the side down with a cheap disposable BBQ which took 2 hours of blowing and poking to reach the right heat. It then maintained this optimum cooking temperature for 10 minutes before promptly going out.

PP, who is a card-carrying pyromaniac and BBQ diva par excellence, staunchly maintained that our credit crunch BBQ would be just perfect for cooking 'in about 10 minutes'...... a stance that she steadfastly held for the ensuing 2 hours in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

Note our state-of-the-art BBQ balanced on bricks, accessorised with impromptu table of upturned fire bucket. PP is competently multitasking, glass in hand......

The shamefaced admission that our BBQ was one of 'two for a pound at Lidl' drew jeers of derision from our campmates who were understandably peckish and looking forward to their Taste the Difference sausages. Hopefully sometime this millennium.

Meanwhile, the fire pit was going great guns. So much so that we even chanced our luck to add a cauldron of beans.

Eventually dinner was served, and afterwards we all gathered round the glowing embers of the fire pit, telling tall tales of derring-do, while dusk darkened to night. Fortunately, as the temperature plummeted, we were bolstered by sufficient alcohol to keep the cold at bay, along with assorted unusual items of headgear, which perhaps, in retrospect, did little to enhance our sartorial standing.

However, we were determined to preserve and uphold the quiet dignity of our animals.

So, all things considered, a jolly good time was had by all and the trip marked a great start to the camping season.

When's the next one then.................?

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Catch up................

Have had supremely lazy day today.....slept late in an attempt to bring my energy account back into marginal credit after the demands of the workshop on Sunday and another busy day yesterday.

Am now looking forward to a spot of camping over the Easter weekend, although the weather forecast is fairly bleak. We are meeting up with our camping chums at a very pretty little campsite just along the coast, which is on a working farm, so there should be lots of sweet little lambs, plus assorted piglets, kids (of the goat variety), guinea pigs, geese, ducks, peacocks, and ponies to 'oohh' and 'aahhh' over.

It's small dog's most favourite campsite, as there is a lovely circular walk around lakes and ponds, plus various animal enclosures where she can fully implement her stop and sniff policy without let or hindrance.

A weekend of rest and relaxation is just what the doctor ordered, after a very stressful few months and I'm looking forward to it immensely. All the more so as on our return I have to buckle down and do the end of year accounts. An onerous task which I loath and detest, and which will take several days.

Every year I solemnly swear that I will keep the accounts up to date on a rolling monthly basis. This pledge usually lasts through April and May then falls by the wayside till the end of the tax year comes round again.

No matter.

I refuse to think about it till we get back after our short break, by which time I will be relaxed and mellow and raring to go.


Saturday, 4 April 2009

Birthday dog.........

Small dog's 3rd birthday today and she's been celebrating in style.

Thus far she's opened her present (squeaky bone)

then had a surprise visitor. She was so frenzied with excitement that she ended up digging up half the garden, resulting in her having to have a shower to remove the caked mud and clay. She's not a great fan of being washed at the best of times, but I got the impression that it may have been a step too far on her birthday......

To restore her good spirits, birthday lunch included her favourite ham, cut into bite-sized strips, followed by a walk in her favourite woods, which are currently thickly carpeted with wood anemones and looked gorgeous in the sunshine. As a special treat she was allowed to fully adhere to her rigorous 'stop and sniff' policy, so the walk took somewhat longer than expected.

This evening we will be popping the cork on a bottle of something chilled and sparkly in honour of her birthday, and she will do her party trick of catching the cork on its way down from the ceiling.

For dinner she is having some steak, (she likes hers medium rare) baby new potatoes and petits pois, with a side dish of doggy mixer biscuits.

So all in all, not a bad way to celebrate your birthday. She is currently stretched out having a post-walk, pre-dinner nap.

It's a dog's life..........

PS - she has asked me to say a special thank you to Abbey and Esther for the animated birthday cards.

April Kit of the Month.......Tiny toy bride doll

The April 'kit of the month' is now available. For full details and online ordering visit Diminutive Dolls.

Having been hard at work the past few weeks, designing and producing a bespoke kit for the Kent Miniaturists club workshop this weekend, it seemed only fair to offer it to a wider audience.

April's AIM Magazine.....

As a member of the editorial team of Artisans in Miniature (AIM) I'm pleased to announce the release of the new APRIL edition of the AIM magazine (issue 11), which has been written by its artisan members for miniaturists and collectors to enjoy.

This month's FREE downloadable monthly magazine is bursting with features, projects, articles, news from the miniature grapevine
and much, much more!

To read this brand new edition or to visit our online magazine archive simply visit the AIM website and click on the relevant links. We have offered the magazine in 2 formats: a fully featured online version - for those who simply wish to view/read online....and also a fully downloadable PDFformat, ideal for those who wish to download or print out [albeit individual pages or the whole magazine / subject to copyright]

We at AIM hope that by providing this choice of format that we can tick as many of your happy boxes as is possible!
If you enjoy the magazine - please help us to spread the word about it and tell as many other miniaturists, friends, groups, clubs or forums as possible!!


Choose and Book........

Two letters in the post this morning, both requiring me to make an appointment.

Letter #1 - the annual service on our gas boiler is due. To make an appointment, clicked onto the website, entered my unique reference number and chose a convenient day/time from the array on offer.

Total time required to make an appointment - 4 minutes

Letter #2 - referral letter from my GP with details of how to choose and book a hospital appointment using the new 'fast, efficient and streamlined' patient-centred booking system.

As directed, phoned the Patient Care Advisory Service which is available from 7am till 10am every day.

Received recorded message saying all the lines were busy and advising me to use the online booking service instead.

Logged into online Choose and Book service using the reference number and password provided in the letter. Was given the choice of three hospital options. Clicked on my preferred option and was offered the 'choice' of 1 appointment in mid-May, over 5 weeks away!

Logged out and tried to phone again, this time waiting in a queue to speak to a real person. Gave real person my reference number and password, full name and date of birth, plus my choice of hospital.

Was offered the same appointment date in May but was advised that I could ring every day in case of cancellations.

Grudgingly accepted appointment and waited while the real person confirmed the booking.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Eventually 'computer said no' and the real person told me to either go online or try again later.

Went online again, and navigated my way back to the May appointment and clicked to accept.

And waited

And waited

Not daring to do anything as the screen message informed me that the booking was in progress and under no circumstances to close the screen or click back or do anything to interfere with the process.

So waited a while longer

Made a cup of tea and toasted a hot cross bun

Played with the birthday dog

Drank tea and ate hot cross bun.

Stood looking out of the kitchen window at the rain

Returned to laptop to find screen message effectively informing me that 'computer says no' and advising me to ring the Patient Care Advisory Service and speak to a real person.

Total time required NOT to make an appointment - 45 minutes.

I will give it another go later this afternoon but in the meantime, let's just hope that I don't have anything life threatening which would benefit from rapid diagnosis and treatment.


Thursday, 2 April 2009


Well I think it is now safe to say that no members of Kent Miniaturists actually read this blog.

If they did, they surely would have pointed out to me that the workshop is on Sunday, not Saturday as I've been maintaining since I first mentioned it.

It's just as well I hunted through a mountain of paperwork today to unearth the details, otherwise I'd have turned up at Staplehurst Village Hall on Saturday morning and wondered where everyone was.

I feel like a complete numpty.

However, rather than having only another 24 hours to finalise everything and pack, I now have the luxury of a whole extra day, which is a boney fido bonus as Saturday is small dog's third birthday, and she was aghast at the prospect of being left home alone on such an auspicious day, despite assurances of a special celebratory dinner when we returned.

At some point this year I might actually get my act together...........

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

It'll all be me

It has occurred to me that amongst my blog readers, there may be some members of Kent Miniaturists, for whom I'm teaching a club workshop on Saturday.

It has also occurred to me, that they may be thinking that they're going to turn up to workshop of shambolic proportions, given my propensity for eleventh hour prep and dallying with the displacement goblins.

So I just want to take this opportunity to reassure them that it will all be fine.

All being well, I will be dotting the i's and crossing the t's by close of play today, and my new and improved sample doll will then be photographed and posted.

PP has been tasked with taking my draft notes and crafting them into a wonderful set of instructions, complete with step-by-step photos.

Remember you saw it here first.