Category: Vehicles

Country File Live photos 2017 (by )

Country File Live was an amazing event with just so much going on - because I was working there I barely got a chance to snap things as I passed - the girls and Al also had a fab time but still felt that they had barely scratched the surface - Jean took photos on her iPad which we'll pop up in a different post. These are the snaps I took on the first day.

Snake with the reptiles and amphibian group Country File Live

This beautiful snake was part of a demonstration including handling by the Oxfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Group (I think!).

Blue dragonfly at Country File Live

I caught this blue dragonfly whilst taking a nap on some bails in front of the bee hive (head injury recovery means I have to take random naps but it is very surreal to conk out in public but I think it's working well).

Birds on the lake Country File Live

There was a lake with a wibbly wobbly bouncy but secure temporary bridge across it. It contained various birds and plants coming and going.

Tree face Country File Live

There were some great flower displays in the Wild Life Zone.

Metal Duck Country File Live

I love this duck - it is exactly the sort of thing I would buy Al if I had more money 🙂

Bikes and flowers in the wild life zone Country File Live

This bike display cheered me up even though it had just been bucketing it down!

tractor tractoring country file live

Tractors! I live like machines like tractors.

Ye old tractor Country File Live

I love old machines like tractors.

Vintage tractor Country File Live

Probably a good job I didn't have more time or there would have been hundred of flower and machine pics!

Old tractor Country File Live

I'm working on a series of machine colouring sheets for an event in the autumn as well to be fair - but I would have still taken all the photos regardless.

Tractor! Country File Live

I like the gubbings of machines.

Tractor bits Country File Live

I think they are pretty

Tractor parts Country File Live

These were all from a huge monster of a machine

Tractor gubbings Country File Live

Many people were taking photographs - elderly men mostly and a press officer.

Tractor swirls Country File Live

Everyone feels they need to ask me why I am taking photos of tractors or make jokes about it - this happens at car shows too.

Being a little bit batty at the Garden Stage with Oxford Mammale Group at Country File Live

We got Batty with the Oxfordshire Mammal Groups.

Foxes and Badgers with the Oxford Mammal Group at Country File Live

And met the cuddly foxes and badgers.

Oxford Mammal Group explain mice with cute cuddlies

And a squeaky little mouse 🙂

Mouse, fox and badger skulls country file live

And skulls of said animals - well actually in the photo there is a mouse skull, fox and badger.

Giant papier mache stage beetle at Country File Live

Insects also featured heavily including butterfly nets creches, many types of bees and this giant papier mache stag beetle!

Milk churn urn flower pots country file live

Milk churn flower display - this is similar to what I wanted when we lived at The Bakery though I was going to bare paint them so they didn't rust away.

Sheep sculptures at Country File Live

Sheep sculptures - love these though more from a making point of view if I am honest - I remember going to a Garden Show and seeing large metal dragons like this which I adored! If we ever get to do the Salaric Emporium idea and have a tea garden then this sort of thing will be in it (along with dinos and fairies!).

yellow water lilies on the lake Country File Live

These beautiful yellow water lilies where on the lake.

Go Wild Country File Live

Loved the giant Go Wild sing 🙂

Water plants Country File Live

Water plants on the lake - oh I probably should have mentioned that this was at Blenheim Palace.

Geese arriving on the lake at Country File Live

The geese kept landing and taking off from the lake and were pretty impressive!

Geese at Blenheim Palace Country File Live

There was plenty of garden ideas - especially those to help you have a greener more wildlife friendly garden - I like this shed but I'm pretty sure ours is falling down and couldn't take the extra strain!

A shed of flowers for the bees Country File Live

Food is a huge part of the event too - I caught sight of this fab cheese stall!

Cheese at Country File Live

And Kendal Mint Cake Laqueur!

Kendal Mint Cake Liqueur at Country File Live

And to end - more animal sculptures 🙂

Horse and deer sculptures at Country File Live

The Jan Recap… (by )

It's the end of January so what has gone on in the household snell-pym in the first month of 2017?

For a start there was the end of Christmas, I am still making the last few Advent vids ready for Christmas next year. We delivered presents though sadly not all the presents so we still have a back log!

Also mine and Mary's birthdays - mine involved a coffee, meal and shopping with Al before hospital stuff but we have only just done the proper celebration with kids and friends this weekend just gone which was also Mary's birthday. There was also posh vegan/Gluten Free brunch. Mary has so far played in the Waterstones cafe with her friend Lilly as her party is going to be in two weeks time. We've planned the party and got stuff ready for it.

This includes me working out how to make upcycled unicorn head bands and tail belts and little roll and pop up horses for the kids to make.

My mother was hospitalised so there was a trip to Essex and the adventures of getting home on the train which were unexpected.

DIY wise we have fixed several toys, remounted a coat rack which had pulled off the wall, dealt with networking and upgrading Jean's computer.

We got a telescope - an amazing thing which was a pool of Christmas money instead of presents for Al and Jean and part of mine and Mary's birthdays. We've seen binary stars so far. It was an undertaking to assemble and we now need to build a storage/transport box but it is assembled and being looked through though we've only had like three clear nights!

I've had three lots of testing at the hospital which took it's toll and norovirus hit the household. I missed a theatre meeting about performing a monologue and a poetry recording evening but I am being given second chances at those so that's all good.

I also missed my Krav self defence one off class and a poetry book launch which made me sad but on the other hand I was live streamed reading poetry at Food For Thought.

Talking of poetry I have also been typing up and editing poems from the BOOKCASE (Not shelf) of notebooks I have. The shear number is insane obv. not all of it is usable but a lot is so I have been organising Turquoise Monster and have even started submitting work again (as in 2 poems so far). I've written three poems this month predictable all about Trump. Of course I am doing my poetry writing challenges so I've drafted a good few more mostly not about Trump.

Jan has also been me gearing up for the poetry writing challenge that I host over at Wopo.

I have also designed, refined and created mini poetry scrolls, story scrolls, made bookwallets etc... for blank scrolls for others to write poetry on, personalised pencils and made write your own poem kits, made and put together 100 mini zine surprise pouches, story boarded two more zines, drafted half a short story, edited a couple of flash fictions, tried to write daily on this blog and started on the mammoth task of trying to sort out the Salaric Craft blog.

Also Storystorm - what used to be Picture Book Idea Month has rebranded and moved to Jan. so I have been idea generating and expanding on those ideas for kids books.

Alaric has been making a cufflink holder for the cufflinks I made him for Advent, the girls have been making invites and decorations for Mary's party and we have all been working on the cosplay outfits for True Believers Comic Festival which is this weekend coming. This has involved sewing, sticking, painting, metal twisting, papier mache and buying new wellys.

I had to get a third print run of my colouring book Love: A Stranger Dream made and in general have been trying to sort out The WigglyPets Press.

I have been teaching myself origami and have folded lit. hundreds of things from geometric modules to make bigger things from to little stand up foxes to pretty little boxes.

We've organised things for getting back down the allotment, so just sorting out containers for soil etc...

I've knitted four hats, made an Ironman craft kit, taken the kids to two (not us) birthday parties. Three projects are still currently being designed and refined including mending a rocking horse that is older than me. I accidently made a pair of slippers from an old coat whilst trying to make a portal gun (please tell me this happens to other people!).

Alaric made my laptop usable again (for now) and we had a chicken fatality 🙁 and we had to fix the chicken run and stuff and general animal stuff to sort out. We've got our new electric car and there was pie making!

NB pie was not chicken Al is veggi!

Jean is still at Scouts, Jujitsu, and Drama and Mary is doing her Ballet, both girls are missing climbing but for one of the parties we did get to go "caving". Alaric is still doing Krav and Hackspace each week. Oh and of course we had to do my tax (sobs!).

There were also visits from and too various family.

So that was January - it snowed and it rained and there was scary fog.

Future Shock (by )

Gloucesters Frosty Morn

A cold frosty morning with delineated skies of faded ice cream colours, we look out over Gloucester with it's historical buildings as they puncture and frame the ancient landscape around them. The air is misty cool and I feel sick at the sight of a frost covered sleeping bag hidden in a corner, the occupant is alive and I sigh in relief, the air tastes of ozone and fumes and rotting food until it is all over lain by the sugar-fat smell of the doughnut van cooking their first batch of the day.

The progress of time marches on, we seem to have been stuck for a long time, at least ten years we failed to roll with the waves of advancement, we barely noticed them.

Before that we thought we'd march singing and triumphant into a future of virtual reality and medical advancement and the healing of our societies and nature. We are 80's childs though Alaric was born in the 70's - just.

When the mysterious x-box was sent to us for Christmas a couple of years ago and we found we could do physical games with it, we knew the future had arrived and we had somehow missed it.

We think on these things, we park our car... we plug it in.

Charging the car

We have FUTURE SHOCK.

When we drive we can plug in and charge our books, my friend charges her cigs. My mum is in hospital but she is alive, alive because of amazing medical advancements made in the last twenty years, made in my lifetime. My dad is the same, a hundred years ago he would have died in his early 30's, he turns 70 this year. I am alive, one of my children is a c-section babe, we walk paste the homeless on the way to dance classes and I swollow the bile that rises. The future is being good to us but it is rather too threaded through with cyber-punk dystopian chords than I would like. Our eldest complains that people live in apartments with all they could want and swimming pools on balconies that over look slums.... how could they?

I frown how different from that are we?

But we do stuff she insists. Yes we do, we don't know what others do or do not do. The Future is full of mental and moral pit falls I never saw coming, like Brexit... like finding myself on the side of the haves and seeing what it would do to the have nots and despairing as I knew which way they would vote and why and neither side would listen, dipolling themselves further.

The divide is growing. But uneven.

Sometimes it overwhelms me, all the thinks to think about, all the interconnect facets of our time and world and society. The environment, housing conditions, health, respect for others, not becoming an oppressor when you have been repressed but not slipping in the victim mentality, stopping cruelty, allowing freedom. Sometimes I can't process it all and I have to ignore it to function and do anything and that maybe selfish but if I don't then we can't do anything. When overwhelmed we can not organise fundraises or gather supplies for food banks or try and remember to shop ethically when we can afford to do so.

Adaption is key and not being judged for buying primarny when there is no time or money but looking nice is an imperative and the way our society works yes you do need to sometimes look nice... like job interviews etc... I am not saying that is right, but it is a reality.

We are lucky, having had times of not being lucky we are acutely aware of the contrast and how fragile that can be. Yes we've safe guarded ourselves this time - as much as we can - because we can. But we are more determined than ever to make a good future - the future maybe here but that doesn't mean we can't improve it and more importantly it is not here for everybody.

So we change what we can where we can, sometimes the difference is so minute we can not even appreciate it and sometimes it is for many and sometimes it is just a packet of sani pads sent to the food bank or a conversations with someone.

Sometimes it is saving up money to try and pay for surgery privately for a parent and not getting there before the nhs sorts them out and then having a deposit and luck to get a new car on lease, a car that will help the environment and our long term spending as it is cheaper to run. Sometimes it is then giving the other car, the old polluting the air car, to your parents because they no longer have a mobility car because... austerity and the damage it causes especially to older folk who drastically go down hill if they can't get out and about, ending up in hospital costing the tax payers more money than their mobility allowance ever cost.

To miss-quote Terry Pratchett - we can't make everything better but we will make the little bit we can see and touch as bettererererrrrr as we can. Granny Weatherwax says it better in The Shepherd's Crown.

It took us ages to work out how to unplug the damn car so you know the future is never going to be plain sailing.

Putting the car on charge

Meet Sheila (by )

Our electric car

We've finally managed it!!!

This is Sheila she is our new car and she is actually NEW! As those of you have known us for a long time will knew we have not had the best luck with cars... vans fine but cars no.

We have been lucky in that friends and family have stepped in with cars and the little Skoda was lovely and reliable but... was a bit small for multiple sets of hips and a car seat in the back and sadly we wore the poor thing out. It did us good service though!

There have been many adventures of getting stuck on motoways with no phone charge and having to walk and walk... well you can read that fiasco here. Also I am sick of trying to fix engines on the go with what ever we have laying around (remember the time I attempted to make a missing pipe out of empty drinks cans?).

Or the time the car set on fire? (OK which time the car set on fire!).

So we've tried saving up and we've tried buying second hand vechiles from not friends/second hand car dealers ships and well yes you guessed it that ended up with the company we taking to court filing for bankruptcy as they do every single time too many people try and take them to court >:(

You can read that one here.

Obviously a lot of this was not having money, having to go for what we could get, we borrowed my mums little car, it red, white and blue and it failed catastrophically. Bear in mind it's not like we don't do maintinance - in general a large chunk of our weekends was often spent faffing around with the cars and vans but this is what happens when you can't afford new cars. It costs more to have little money than it does to have alot!

Anyway long story short - we have a shiny new car with funky lights - I will try and get a better pic!

Pretty car lights

Did I mention it's electric? It's ELECTRIC!!! Not hybrid but full on electric - it is not a Tesla (boo), it is not a funky colour... it isn't even the blue or silver we would have preferred and of course... it is ours but it is not ours. We've leased it.

a) This was basically the only way we were going to get any new vechile ever and b) it is electric and as much as we've always wanted electric it is still an emergent technology and so we really don't want to be investing tens of thousands (even if we could!) into something that is pretty much still prototyping.

I am very excited about it being electric!!! I used to enter all the New Scientists comps to win a hybrid back in the day!

One little note on the old car thing - I was coming from a back ground where my relatives were autocar mechanics and there was always access to tools and maybe even an apprentices to fix the cars. In that environment it's doesn't matter that the car is old and also it means you don't get ripped off because cars that need a little work kind of accumulate and you're sorted. Outside of this environment and there are dangerous crooks who don't care if what they are selling you for all the money you've scraped together is dangerous.

And breath.

We are incredibly lucky to get our car - it is glacial white, it smells of new car. We picked it up this afternoon - it is now getting muddy because... Cranham and Scouting. It comes with polish and high viz. I love the lights... asthetically I really LOVE those lights. I was in fact mooning over those lights on a Zoe (make of car we have) at the services not long ago... it's still not a Tesla. No more road side fixing!!! Remember I can't actually drive and am kind of fed up with stupidly put together engines that are actually designed so that it's hard to fix outside the approved dealership because.... money.

The vans a Ford Transit - we know what we're doing with those 🙂

So yeah its a Zoe 🙂

Our car Sheila

Which is why we've called it Sheila 🙂 (Sheila's are often called Zoe incase you didn't know!).

So yeah... we has new car - we kind of thought this would never happen, we are very nervous about it but it is here now and we have charging cards and a big fat cable!

Of Test Drives and Zines (by )

Surprise Pouches for mini-zines

This is a Surprise Pouch - they contain one mini zine each plus some other bits and pieces like but not always stickers, page corners, charms and so on 🙂

I love them, I am very pleased the idea worked so well. They will be coming to shows and things with me, they are 50p and will first appear at the OK True Believers Comic book Festival in Feb. I'm there as Wiggly Pet Press and there will be cosplaying and things a foot but I'll bore you with all that at some later date 🙂

I've spent the last few years writing and illustrating and constructing zines (little homemade comics and booklets) but have not always had the infrastructure to actually birth them completely into the world. Now I do. Now I am finishing off all those little zines that have been langishing on hard drives and the like (or worse in my head!).

So be prepared to see alot more of these little butes 🙂

Also I am in general mixing the writing up with the arts and crafts side of things, making tie in necklaces and writing stories for the steam punk accessories I'd made and so on.

Yes I'm aware I need to sell it all on line or something... I do have various e-shops I just don't always remember to list new things or tell people when I have!

Mary had Ballet today it was her first time in the new more advanced class, she was shy and with drawn, it is probably because she hadn't really slept but it was also because her two friends are not in this class. We are seeing how the next few weeks are going but if she continues to be distressed then the teacher says she can drop down again.

Then we went to test drive the Zoe - an electric vechile - we've wanted to have an electric car... well since before Al could drive. I used to enter all the comps to try and win a hybrid when they first came out - of course we never won 🙁 But now we are in a position where we might be able to do a lease for three years. Electric cars are still emergent technology so we wouldn't really want to invest as such in owning one (at the moment) but leasing one would cost us less than running our car plus we wouldn't have to do the maintinance and that is driving me insane (haha!).

Yeah I'm sick of spending weekends crawling under cars getting my cloths drity when it's a desperation factor because I need to be somewhere - also bare in mind I can't even drive!

The show room where lovely and we got hot drinks and we all got to go in the car. Jean likes it because it's smooth, I like it because it's quiet, Al likes the way it handles, Mary doesn't like it because a) it is not a red tesla (kind of agree on this one as we don't really have a choice of colour and they are all erm... muted but at least they are not biage!) and b) it was too "jumpy" this was actually Al getting used to the breaking system.

I like the back lights stylistically not too keen on the front ones, am sad that if we get it then I can't really put decals or anything on it and we don't even get funky hub caps because that all costs more or ment we had to wait longer or something.

I was pleased and yet embarrassed that I was asked if I wanted to test drive it.

We were supposed to then go shopping but there had been ceiling fans all rotating at different speeds around the lights and I'd had to think about numbers without the naps I am taking for the head injury during the week - the result was that I completely crashed and we came home, not really sure what we then did until I started folding things for comic book festivals but I know I slept.

Whilst Mary was in ballet I got another origami book from Waterstones because it has the little baskets/boxes I want to fold for Mary's birthday party in. I think it is counting as my birthday present from Al but I already have it because I finished all the projects I can do in the other books and have infact started to improvise weird geometric structures out of multiple sheets of paper and altering simple folds to be other things. Hence the Surprise Pouches which probably do exists elsewhere but for me are an adaption.

Alaric is helping me out with some zine formating as my brain is just not playing ball at the moment. The Christmas decorations are still sitting in piles in the living room but I am taking things at my own pace.

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