Learning to drive (by )

It's been many months since I passed my driving test now, but as my instructors had warned me, you never stop learning to drive.

You see, in order to pass the test you have to be a super-perfect driver; you need to think carefully about everything, and follow precise procedures, because that's what the examiners want to see.

Then you start driving around "for real", with passengers talking to you, having to think about your route rather than being told to take the next left. Driving starts to happen automatically, without thought.

This is why new drivers are prone to crashing, and have to pay more for their car insurance... Read more »

Hooray for working at home! (by )

The cats aren't meant to get into my office, since I have desks laden with delicate electronic circuits with long cables that dangle down, but somehow Minnie snuck in there - because this morning, as I was sitting at my desk, she appeared beside me and meowed while looking up expectantly. I patted my lap, and she jumped up, made herself comfortable, and lay down to purr.

That's not something you normally get while working in an office, is it?

Despite the well-known stress-relief properties of a purring cat on your lap... If I ever set up an office, I'll make sure I get non-cat-allergic employees and have an office cat or two!

But, alas, not where I'm trying to do electronic circuit development.

When Minnie first arrived (by )

She was very shy, and hid quite deeply behind our appliances:

Behind the freezer... Behind the fridge... Minnie hides!

Of Wasp Nests and Mould (by )

Today has been a strange day - I had to trundle off on a hunt for a socket set with Dad to try and fix the car - this took about three hours! But we have found the leak - there was a metal pipe with lots of rust holes in it. I suppose the steam that built up due to there not being enough water for cooling, would have caused the rust thinned metal to fail and voila, holes galore!

Bits crumbled of this pipe as it was removed 🙁 Dad spent ages a) locating said leak, b) extracting the part - we dont know the name for it as the Haynes manual wasnt in the car! and c) cleaning it with meths so that we could see exactly how many holes there were!

Once it was cleaned up, it was a question of aralditing the holes (Al says Araldities is the goddess of stickyness) - so off I went to find a sutable plugging material - in the end we settled for the outer containers of tee lights - many of which I have due to a load of partially burnt ones some camper once left at Thirftwood Campsite! These cases where then cut to size - the glue mixed (its a two part epoxy), Dad spent ages 'filling' the gaps with glue - then to the tricky bit of placing the metal 'plaster' over the wounds! Gaffer tape strips were then used to try and keep everything in place untill the glue dried. We are currently waiting for the glue to cure and just hoping really.

Another job that was essential yesturday was the Raising of the Bridge over the stream - there was a wasps' nest underneath the bridge which had to be got rid of - Barbara didnt want to pay the £50 fee for an expert so asked Al if he would lift the bridge - this is a scary thing to do, so we waited for night and fortunately last night was raining too, so it was optimum time to go poking at wasps' nests as the wasps would be less active and less inclined to chase us!

Me, Dad and Al kitted ourselves up in jeans, thick coats of various types (I had a leather one on), welding gloves and bricky gloves and nasty chemical handling gloves were donned, add to this various safety goggles and masks and we were set! We had Al's Nightsearcher torch which is really really powerful and lit things up nicely. Al was also wearing the nice LED head torch Rob gave me for my Birthday. Feeling like an astronaut or deep sea explorer we set out with ropes in hand - the plan? To tie the rope onto the bridge either side of the stream and heave. Me and Dad went to the far side via the steps to avoid prematurely angering the wasps. I tied a loop in the rope same as Al and we hooked them onto some planks - then Dad and Al heaved, and heaved and well heaved - the planks broke but the bridge did nae budge!

Ok so plan 2!

The ropes were passed under the bridge with much worry on the angry wasp frount, then Dad and Al heaved and heaved and heaved some more - this time the bridge is flexing but no mass movement 🙁 I was even shouting 'heave ho' to get them synched - all to no avail. At this point I asked how Babara had been planning to do this and Al said by getting in the stream and pushing from underneath (next to the wasp' nest with head about right height for stings!). We didn't fancy that, so off I went to get a spade and fork so that we could dig out the nice grass round the two ends of the bridge. This caused a bit of confusion as there are bits of wall-making sized cotswold stone (mill pond wall maybe?) around the ends. We hypothesised on whether they were put there intentionally to stop the bridge sinking or whether they were just there anyway (erm hope that makes sense!). This meant we dug up a bit more than was needed (I say we I was at this juncture just holding the torch!).

That done we tried plan 3, praying that we wouldnt have to kit girly out in wellies for a plan four - I really didnt want to be going in the stream but Dad doesnt have any wellies so it would have been me and Al!

They heaved and heaved and the bridge moved and didn't want to stand on its side as we had been instructed to leave it - instead it flopped onto its back, onto the poor plants! And there on the underbelly of the bridge was a writhing mass of angry wasps - in the shape of half a football - in the torch light they looked black and shiny and were begginning to rise - we did the gentlemanly thing and ran!

Still we actually only left one piece of rope behind which I think was pretty good! I lament not having the camera with me though, even though I know that it wouldn't have been able to capture what I saw. It was quiet frankly beuatiful, the torch light lent a green luminosity to the plants, which being in or around the stream were tall reeds or rainforestesque type plants - the rain was little silver lines paralleling down from the sky at an angle of 35 degrees and the wind was making everything dance with a natural elegance. I also really wanted a photo of the wasps nest but when I went down there this morning to take the pic I discovered (unsuprisingly given wasps nests are made of paper) that the nest had melted in the rain! There were lots of bewildered wasps flying around the bridge.

We feel this is a good this cos a) it doesnt now need poking at further to remove it and b) hopefully the wasps can go and find a nice new home (hopefully not in our garage or anything like that!).

Due to helping Dad with the car and then dealing with the wasps nest - I only got one other job done yesterday and that was cleaning out the cupboard under the sink - I thought 'crikey I didnt check under there after the last flood'. It was bad - the cupbord itself was really wet but thats cos all the water goes down the half inch gap at the back and some idiot put the cupboards in onto top of the carpet here! This meant that I was confronted by cream fluff eminating from said half inch gap 🙁 I wasnt happy cleaning that out I can tell you - I dread to think what its like under the actual ciupboard - Al wouldnt let me 'break' the cupboard to look properlly as we dont have the money to replace the units - sigh - I want lino! (well actually we want some nice tiles but they are v. expensive so we'd be happy with lino until we're rich!).

Mini starting to be less shy (by )

Mini is tending to come out and wondere around more - I have managed to comb her twice - she loved this and purs like a mad thing! Al however is the person of favour with her and me - well she bites me :'( This cat has taken a disliking to me, I'm not sure if its becuase the kittens upset her and then hide behind me or that I end up telling her off lots ie when she claws the setee or becuase I had to turf her of a cake box earlier etc...

I'm hopeing this situation will improove - she mostly lets me stroke her if I let her sniff me first and all the rest of that sort of jazz but just radomly she turns and bites me 🙁 - Oh well at least Al curries favour! (I had to resist writting flavour there!)

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