Friday, January 29

Chalk Street Art

I've only ever drawn on a small scale and even then, it's never been brilliant. But .. what absolutely astounds me is street and pavement art. Scenes are drawn in chalk on pavements, and when viewed from the correct angle, show a 3D masterpiece.

There are two street/pavement artists who I think are amazing. I've only just found out about this guy, Edgar Mueller. The images below are © Edgar Mueller and his website is

Here are a couple of his shots.

 The first time I came across street/pavement art was when I saw some scenes done by an English artist, Julian Beever. The following images are ©Julian Beever and his website is HERE 

I hope you enjoy them :D

Wednesday, January 27

Read it Swap it

After my stuck for a book statement the other day, someone I know suggested I try a website called so I headed on over to see what it was about.

It's basically a swapshop for books. You register free of charge and list the books you have that you'd be happy to swap. These then show up on the main page as newly listed books.

You can go through a library of books listed for swaps. You then click a link to notify a member that you would like one of their books and they then go through your list of offered books. if they see one they like they accept the swap. All you need to do then is post it to them. You have to pay the postage but of course, you get a book through the post yourself so it cancels out the postage really. And to be honest, to get yourself a new book for the price of postage, I think it's a good bargain.

I listed mine about an hour and a half ago and I've already had my first swap! woohoo. What a great way to get books. I never read the same book twice so my bookshelves fill up quite quickly so this is one way to keep them not quite so full and someone else benefits once I've read a book.

What a good idea!

Tuesday, January 26

Stuck for a book!

I hate being in this situation! I'm stuck for a book!

Due to current physical state, I read a lot. Last week I read Pillars of the Earth (1000+ pages, and yes, in one week!). I can't read the sequel, because I've already read it last year LOL. It didn't matter to be honest, that I read them in reverse order as there wasn't a cliffhanger at the end of the first book.

So I'm asking for suggestions.

What kind of books do I read? well.... Mainly historical or fantasy books. Historical as in, I've not long finished three books by Conn Iggulden about Genghis Khan (Wolves of the Plain trilogy). I also read Tim Severin's Vikings trilogy and one of my all time favourite books is Aztec by Gary Jennings, so that's the kind of historical book I enjoy. Not period drama novels.

Fantasy novel wise, I've read things like The Dragonlance Chronicles, in fact all the Dragonlance books by Weiss and Hickman. The Sword of Truth series (about 8 books) by Terry Goodkind.

Some fantasy novelists drone on and on, setting a scene, introducing characters that really aren't necessary and drive me bonkers, so I am a bit choosy about fantasy novels.

I don't like girly books. Although I did enjoy Watermelon by Marian Keyes. I can't stand Mills and Boon sloppy romance or Danielle Steele. I did read A Boy Called It, but I couldn't read anymore of these child abuse books.

I did enjoy The Memory Keepers Daughter (Kim Edwards), and Follow The River (by Laura Ingels Wilder) so I don't just stick to Bloodythirsty History or Fantasy. Another one I enjoyed was A Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, and Joe Abercrombie's First Law Series (Before They Are Hanged was the first book). I really tried to read The Timetravellers Wife, but I just ended up confused LOL

I've read so many excellent books and put so many down that I thought would be excellent and weren't. I know taste in books is a very personal thing.  Mark keeps telling me to read The Gunslinger series by Stephen King, but I just can't bear how Stephen King meanders around through 10 pages to tell you one thing. I don't like horror books, my imagination is too overactive to cope with them. By the time I've read three pages, in my head, there are three people waiting in the bathroom to gore me to death, another half a dozen on the stairs and a vampire in my wardrobe.. LOL.

Anyway, have you read any good books that you would recommend?


I've started...

a new blog.

It's called, What Isabelle says and Does. It's going to be purely a record of all the amusing things Isabelle says and does that makes her my little ray of sunshine. I'm sure she'll love me to bits for this when she gets older, but my memory is so bad that if I want to remember them at all, I need them written down to refer to in years to come.

Please pop over and take a read (regularly?) of What Isabelle Says and Does

Monday, January 25

A long week...

In fact, a very long week.

I try not to grumble about it when it happens because I feel bloody miserable enough as it is, but when I have a Fibromyalgia flare-up life for me turns to hell. Add to that a slip down the stairs on Russ's college folder that I didn't see, resulting in jarring an already very sore back and it just makes life even more bloody miserable.

On top of that, add a dose of fibro-fog and there is no hope for me.

If you don't know what Fibromyalgia is, here is a brief description of what I live with day to day:

Widespread muscle pain and fatigue plague those with fibromyalgia. People affected describe the pain as throbbing, aching, stabbing or shooting in nature. They will often say they 'ache all over'. It's often associated with stiffness, which, like the pain, may be worse first thing in the morning.  Those with the condition may become hypersensitive to pain, finding that even the slightest touch is painful, and that pain lasts longer than would be expected.

In addition to these characteristic symptoms, some people also experience other symptoms including such as difficulty sleeping, headaches, numbness, tingling and depression.
Another problem that those with fibromyalgia may experience is ‘fibro-fog’ which can cause difficulty making decisions, understanding things, and problems with memory and concentration.

Oh the joys of it all eh? One of the worst things about it for me is that it is invisible. No one can see it. I don't look any different when I have a flare to how I normally look, except when I try to move.  Then I start to hobble around like an 80 year old woman. I can only stand for 5 minutes at a time if I'm lucky. Washing the dishes can take as many as three or four attempts, and I don't have a very understanding husband. He seems to think that I should be able to work through it. If I tried harder I'd be able to manage a task. If it were only that simple. When your whole body is screaming at you and hurts like mad, there is no way you can push through a pain barrier and come out the otherside. The daft thing is, even typing hurts my fingers.

I am so bloody frustrated with this and it's driving me absolutely crazy after a week of it. I needed to vent and get it off my chest. Now I can smile when hubby comes home for his dinner and pretend that nothing is wrong, because that is what is expected.

Tuesday, January 19

10 things that make me happy

So much of the time, things that make us happy seem to get pushed to one side while we deal with the up's and down's of life in general. it's not often you get chance to stop and think about what does actually make you happy. The lovely Diney has once again tagged me, but this time to list the 10 things that make me happy, and I'm more than happy (haha) to take time out and think happy thoughts and share them with you.

These are in no particular order or preference, they're just as I think them. Some might be a bit corny or obvious, but they are things that make me happy.

1. Isabelle. She is my 4 year old little ray of sunshine. I love all my kids very much, but I had Eve when I was not quite 17 and Russ 5 years later. They are now 24 and 19 and pretty much independent. Having another child after a 15 year gap aged 37 is a shock, but you have a completely different outlook on life and bringing kids up. It's far more relaxed. Isabelle is an intelligent little girl and is always smiling and laughing and coming out with some mad theory or other. She brings a lot of happiness to my life. She's got me through some pretty rough times in her short 4 year life span and knows what to do to make me smile again.

2. Mark saying I love you. I know that someone saying I love you makes pretty much anyone happy, but the thing is my hubby very rarely says it. It's not that he doesn't love me, I'm just supposed to know. That's the type of person he is. It was hard to deal with to start with because I'm a very touchy feely person and have no problems saying I love you to anyone I love. Mark was brought up very differently from me and you just didn't show your emotions. I am supposed to know that he loves me because he's still here. It might sound odd to someone who doesn't have a hubby like that, but when he does say it, it, he means it.

3. Getting the photo that I pictured in my mind and it coming out well. My camera is my outlet, and photography is the one thing that is mine and purely mine. No one can take it away from me. It's my way of expressing myself and pacifying the creative part of me. And the feeling of getting 'the shot' can almost reduce me to tears sometimes. Crazy maybe, but that's how I feel about it.

4. My camera club. Bit of an odd one this, but it's linked to my photography and this time on a Monday night is really the only time I actually get to be me, talk about something that is very important to me and share it with others who feel the same way. This is my time out off duty. I have no one else to think about during this time, no jobs to be done.. nothing.. I can be me.. I'm not someone's mum or someone's wife.. I am myself. This couple of hours on a monday night is my sanity time.

5. Getting into a nice clean bed. You know, when you've washed the bedding, it's been hung out and dried in the sunshine then put back on the bed because it smells so much fresher than the one that's been washed and stored in the cupboard as a spare.

6. Monday Morning. As much as I love my family, after the chaos of the weekend with eveyrone milling around making a noise and a mess, the bliss that is coming back from dropping Isabelle at school and everyone else is at work is wonderful. Walking into the house to silence and grabbing a coffee is, well..just ahhhhhh.

7. Watching a huge summer thunderstorm from inside the house standing at wide open patio doors. The smell, the sound, the atmosphere - just love it.

8. Pay Day. I'm not a materialistic person at all, but my other half is. No matter how I work the finances out and no matter how much I think we have for the month, half way through we never have any money. I always have to stretch the money out at the end of the month, so payday is a lovely day to reach each month.

9. Waking up to find my body is working as it should. This might seem a bit of an odd one, but as I have Fibromyalgia my muscles and joints don't always work as they should, particularly my back and hips. Some days it's so bad I have to hold myself up to walk (stubborn git won't use a walking stick unless I REALLY have to), so to get up knowing that my body is functioning quite well is great.

10. Bit of a silly one this, but knowing that people read my blog and sometimes leave comments. I sit here typing whatever drivel is in my head at the time and needs letting out. Sometimes it's the only way I can deal with things, by typing them up and getting them out of my system, but for someone to leave a comment and say they know where I'm coming from, or tell me that I'm not actually completely bonkers, is really nice.

So there you have it. Not as easy as I thought really. First off I didn't know where to start, and then all sorts started tumbling around in my head. Thanks Diney, I enjoyed that and have a lot to be happy about :)

I don't know very many people in the blog world, but if you want to be tagged, then please feel free to make your happy post.. although I am definately going to tag CG.. c'mon Julie.. lets see what makes you happy.

Monday, January 18

It's not ok!!

This may seem as a bit of an odd post to some of you, but an incindent that happened yesterday has left me very angry and upset. A very attacking post was made about me on a public forum. I'm not going to go into details, although I know that two of you are aware of it. I have to write this post to get it off my chest or I will explode because I refuse to reply to the person concerned.

One line stood out for me in amongst all the spouting and a lot of crap and accusations that just bore no truth was this one:

[I am] not very godly person as far as I can guess from your tastes and interests

This person (female) has never met me in person, never spoken to me in person, knows very little about me, only what she has gathered about me online. I am fully aware that you build up impressions of people when you share the same forum, but this isn't a blog forum and I don't generally give a lot of personal (about me) information away on this forum.

So how can someone 'guess' that I am not a very godly person from my tastes and interests that she is aware of? Because I like heavy rock music such as Metallica, and I like motorbikes and dragons and fantasy artwork, does that make me a Satan worshipping, drunken slut who bites the heads off bats?

I am a 41 year old mother of three. I dress as normally as any other woman of my age. I don't stand out in the school playground for being 'different'. I have never mentioned my religion or lack of to anyone. It is my business and will remain my business. If people believe in any kind of God, that's up to them. If they don't believe in any kind of God, that's also up to them. I have friends who are very religious and friends who are complete atheists, and it makes no difference to me what category they fall into. But how can someone judge me because of my tastes and interests..? of which she only knows of motorbikes and rock music. She doesn't know that I make and paint fairy doors to sell on ebay. She doesn't know that I make jewellery, or candles, or cards.. or any of the other things I do... but obviously bikes and rock music are what define me as a person and make me ungodly. I don't even drink alcohol.

And a few points in my head that I need to get out in response, but only here. They're out of my head, won't be sent to the person in question, but once I've written them down, I can move on. This is just how I feel and please feel free to ignore my rant.

It's not ok to attack me online publicly, defaming my character which is visible to over 300 people.

It's not ok to make assumptions about me when you have never met me and never spoken to me in person.

It's not ok to accuse me of things that you actually know nothing about and then slander me for it.

It's not ok for you to make your mind up over a situation and decide your truth of a matter, when in actuallity, you have your facts completely wrong. Especially when I have evidence to prove this.

It certainly is not ok for you to make judgement of me based on (as you put it) my interests and tastes when you know nothing about me personally.

It's not ok to play the martyr card about being a victim of bullying on a regular basis. I know what it's like to be bullied. I lived through it myself, but of course, you don't know that I was in a relationship for three years with a violent schitzophrenic (at that point undiagnosed) and was beaten 2 or 3 times a week, pushed down the stairs, held by the throat so my feet didn't touch the floor, and when I wasn't being physically beaten I was verbally abused. At 17 years old, I was too young and too scared to be able to get out of the situation especially with a small baby! But you don't know that because I don't talk about it. No one other than my family actually knew this until now. 

It's not ok to berate me in public for something I forgot to do. You don't know that I have Fibromyalgia and CFS and some days I can barely move. Some days I can forget where I am never mind what I should have done yesterday. It's a by-product of Fibromyalgia called Fibro-fog and it is legitimate, it's not an excuse. It's a cognitive disorder that during a fibro-flare causes loss or malfunctioning of short-term memory. I try to do my best with it, but sometimes it fails. A personal reminder would have done, not harbour a grudge for six months then air your views on the matter publicly. That was between you and I, not 300 people.

Basically - it's not OK to make a long forum post, speaking to anyone the way you spoke to me. YOU DON'T KNOW ME!!

Sunday, January 17

Asking for Donations

The earthquake in Haiti has left a trail of destruction and devastation. Thousands and thousands of people have been killed or injured and many many more have been left homeless wondering if their relatives are alive or dead. They have no food or water and this has really struck a nerve with me. My heart bleeds for these people. I know there is devastation on a daily basis, but not on this scale. I wish that I could just go out there and help. It is the humanitarian in me. I feel helpless.

I read, somewhere in the blogworld, about Shelterbox rescue kits, and that this blogger (please forgive me, I can't remember where I stumbled across it) was raising money to send these Shelterboxes to Haiti. I can't for the life of me find this blog again, so I am going to do the same. I know so many people on the internet because of facebook, my photography forum and twitter, I thought that between us all, we could maybe raise the £490 to buy at least one shelterbox rescue kit.

The kit contains:
  • A ten-person tent with privacy partitions that allow its occupants to divide the space as they see fit
  • A range of other survival equipment including thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, essential in areas where temperatures plummet at nightfall
  • Life-saving means of water purification. Water supplies often become contaminated after a major disaster, as infrastructure and sanitation systems are destroyed, this presents a secondary but no less dangerous threat to survivors than the initial disaster itself.
  • A basic tool kit containing a hammer, axe, saw, trenching shovel, hoe head, pliers and wire cutters.  These items enable people to improve their immediate environment, by chopping firewood or digging a latrine, for example. Then, when it is possible, to start repairing or rebuilding the home they were forced to leave.
  • A wood burning or multi-fuel stove that can burn anything from diesel to old paint.  This provides the heart of the new home where water is boiled, food is cooked and families congregate. In addition, there are pans, utensils, bowls, mugs and water storage containers.
  • Each box can be adapted to the individual needs of the disaster area, for example, following the Javanese earthquake in 2006, when some resources were available locally or could be salvaged from one storey buildings, the overwhelming need was for shelter – so ShelterBox just sent tents, packing two in each box.  The box itself is lightweight and waterproof and has been used for a variety of purposes in the past – from water and food storage containers to a cot for a newly born baby.
  • And lastly, but I think just as importantly, each box contains a children’s pack containing drawing books, crayons and pens.  For children who have lost most, if not all, of their possessions, these small gifts are treasured.

If you can spare even the smallest amount of money, please go to Donations for Haiti  and donate whatever you can.

I posted on twitter and asked several celebs to re-tweet my message. Only one has so far, but that was Slash from Guns n Roses. All hail to the guitar god.

I have to be able to at least raise enough for one shelterbox rescue kit. Please help!

Thank you

Friday, January 15

Sounding like Victor Meldrew...

Getting Isabelle to school today was an absolute nightmare!!

The snow, having finally started to melt, got rained on during the night and then frozen. The weather is trying to kill us all.. it has become a terrorist, and the council are aiding it in it's mission.

The trip to school is uphill and then downhill again, not a major hill, but enough of an incline to cause trouble for anyone driving or walking. Cars have been getting stuck and the council still haven't cleared the two main roads that lead to the school because they're not 'main road' enough.

So this morning the roads and paths that lead to the school are sheet ice. I mean, ice-rink status. I half expected Torville and Dean to be rehearsing for Dancing on Ice on it, it is THAT bad. People were falling over everywhere. So when I got home, I put on my Victor Meldrew hat and phoned the council. No good getting 'umpty' with them, I tried to be nice. I started by saying I realise that they'd probably had a million and one phone calls like this, but I was really concerned for the kids and parents trying to get to school. She told me that they are only gritting main roads still. So I told her that the main roads are clear, and surely their next priority should be around the schools. I also told her about everyone falling over and that it really was desparately bad, and that even if a snow plow were to go down these two roads it would make a huge difference. She said she didn't know the area or school in question. Grrrrrr. So I told her that it you had to go uphill and then down again to get to the school, and obviously the same to get away from the school. She said, 'I'll put it through'. (in a condesending, ok if it shuts you up kind of voice).

I'm not one for phoning the council, in fact I don't think I ever have before, it really was THAT bad. I have accepted that the weather has been bad, and it's a fact of life that nothing can really be done about it, I've gone to wherever I've needed to as a necessity and avoided going out un-neccesarily but this morning was a bit much, it's a death-trap.

So, lets hope the rain gets it's butt into gear and rains enough today to create that oh so lovely slush that we all love so much.. at least it will be better than sheet ice.

[grumble over]

Thursday, January 14

oooh, I've been tagged

Well, this is the first time I've ever been tagged for anything.. shocking eh?

The lovely Diney over at Older mums are fun - unless they forget to take their HRT!! tagged me in a photo meme. I've been reading a few blogs and this photo meme seems to be doing the rounds, but I'm not well known enough in the blogisphere to get tagged, or so I thought ;)

Unfortunately, I didn't get a photograph of the airbourne gerbil.. how cool would that have been? LOL, so I've had to think about the billion and one photographs I own, digitally or printed.

Imagine asking a photographer to choose ONE photograph. How on earth can I whittle it down to one? Well I can't. So I'm going to cheat a little bit and choose one photograph that is very special to me, that I didn't take, and one photograph that I love that I did take myself.

Ok, Oh god this is so hard. Going to put the kettle on while I search for this photograph....

Ok, Photograph found. (and a nice hot coffee to go with it)

This photograph was taken in 1968/9 and it's My beloved Dad holding me. I must have been about 6 months old or so. This is the only photograph I have on display in the house from my childhood. The rest are in photo albums or in the bottomless pit that is full of photographs too numerous to count.

I've posted about my Dad before, but for those that haven't read that far back, my dad passed away in June 2004 aged 66 and I was devastated. Although time does in fact heal so that I don't think about him constantly anymore, the pain comes straight back every time I do think about him.. like now. I can't put into words the devastation I still feel. I won't go on and on, but I am going to post the poem I wrote for him the day after he died, and was read out at his funeral and reduced the whole congregation to tears after an almost farcical funeral his wife (not my mum) had requested. Then after the poem, I'll post my second photograph, my favourite one that I have taken.

For my Dad

Sometimes words are left unsaid,
You know what you mean, but they stay in your head
But there comes a time when you should say
and let all them out, not keep them locked away.

You go through life just doing your thing
whether it's quietly living, or whether you dance and sing
There are people that matter all the way through life
there for good times, and there for the strife

You are one of those people Dad, though I've not often said
you've always been there, nice thoughts in my head.
Good times to remember of when I was small
happy smiling memories for when I want to recall

As I grew older you took a step to the side
to let me learn, and to gain my own pride

Life is a journey down a one way track
is it one way, or can we come back?
Where did it start? where does it go?
But someone that matters, has watched me grow

It doesn't really matter which road you take
With it's up's and down's and choices to make
Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong
But whatever the choice, the road is long
And to have someone there to help guide the way
Is better than waking up to a sunny day.

So this is to say, for all the times I should have said,
spoken the words out, not kept them in my head.

I see myself when I look at you
The way you think, the things you do
You have made me who I am, I've taken the best of a lovely man

I'll miss your smile, your laughing eyes,
but I'll think of you when I look to the skies.
I love you Dad that much is true
And one day in the future, I hope I'm just like you.

Moving swiftly on...

It is so hard to choose just one photograph from the hundreds I've taken, but there is one that always makes me smile every time I see it, I just can't help but giggle at it.

It's my wooly coo! If you click on the image you can view it full size.

It might seem like a bit of an odd choice from all the photographs I've taken, but there is just something about this shot that is so 'in-your-face' literally. Technically it's good (so I've been told) and it just has something that will always make me smile. It also won me first place in one of our camera club competitions, and the judge actually said at the time, had it been in the Advanced category, it would have won that too. (big grin)

If you want to take a look at my other photographs I've taken, please have a wander over to Ann-Marie Metcalfe Photography and you can check out what else floats my boat photographically. I know there are a lot of bikes and cars on there, but there are also loads of flowers and insects and my quite popular little people.

Ok, so now I get to tag someone don't I? Well, I have to tag my lovely friend The Compulsive Worrier. She often forgets how good she is photographically. She has a different style to me and seems to have a very good eye for an unusual angle or something a bit different. She does fantastic architectural shots which I just don't seem to be able to see to photograph.  Her wedding photography is also stunning and I really don't know how she does it.. I'd fall apart if I had to shoot a wedding.

I'll also tag The Bearded One over on Ramblings of The Bearded One  an excellent photographer and blogger. He has just recently posted his favourite 12 photographs, one from each month last year, but Kim, can you choose just one photograph of all time?

If anyone else who reads this and hasn't yet been tagged, consider yourself tagged and post your favourite photograph too.

Wednesday, January 13

My little garden visitor...

I love robins. They are so fluffed up and although they only have a little bit of red on them they seem to brighten up my snow-ridden garden.

Our snow just about melted away yesterday only for us to wake up to a complete whiteout again this morning.

I've been feeding my garden birds with a bit of .. ooh, should I be really doing this.. ? after I saw a programme about us feeding garden birds and changing evolution. But they all sit on the fence looking for food, so I feed them seeds and buttered bread (they need the fat to keep them warm apparently) and they even got the remains of the Christmas cake.

I actually have two robins visit my garden, although they are very territorial. They fight all the time. One is a skinny little thing and the other is nice and fat. Guess which one wins the fight all the time.

So, this nice fluffed up little chap visits my garden several times a day and it always makes me smile when I see him.

Thursday, January 7

An airbourne Gerbil...

.. yes, really!!

A short while ago I came down in the morning to find the gerbil cage on the floor, open and the gerbil hiding under the sofa. After 20 minutes, I managed to coax it out and catch it (not an easy job!).

I have suspected for some time that we have a stray cat coming into the house through the catflap. Our cat is 18 and just really can't be arsed with the gerbil. One morning I came down to find an attempted jailbreak with the access lid open on the gerbil cage, and as I came downstairs I heard the catflap clattering. My suspicions are also that it's a male cat as we've been able to smell tom cat spray, and our cat is a female.

So at 5am this morning I heard a crash! I jumped out of bed and came downstairs (I wasn't scared, I knew it was the gerbil cage not a burglar) and lo and behold, the gerbil cage was open on the floor and the gerbil nowhere to be seen. The culprit still in my living room. Now, picture a scene from Tom and Jerry.. I chased this unwelcome cat around the living room, it jumped to the top of the patio curtains (god only knows where it thought it was going or how it was going to escape through closed patio doors), but it got away through the catflap (with hindsight i should have locked it before I started the chase). Our cat sat on the sofa spectating. She really could only just be bothered to lift her head to see what was going on. She wasn't even bothered about the little furry creature that had poked it's head out from under the sofa. Nevertheless, I put our cat into the kitchen and closed the door.

Now armed with gerbil food and broccoli I set about trying to re-capture the gerbil and get it back in the cage.

This gerbil can only have a brain the size of a lentil, but my god can it use it for escapology! No matter which end of the sofa I sat to catch it, it came out the other end. As soon as I moved, it scooted back under the sofa again. Grrrrr!

Remember.. this was 5am! after an hour I gave up and went back to bed. Our cat was left in the kitchen, and I wrote a note for Mark asking him to leave the cat in the kitchen and why because he had to get up early to travel to Leeds (in this snow and ice.. but that's another story).

I woke up to squeals of laugher and lots of clomping feet in the living room (it's a wooden floor). Mark and Isabelle were trying to catch the gerbil, so I came downstairs to help.

At the end of the sofa was a box with broccoli in it and they waited for the gerbil to go for the broccoli.. which it did. The plan was as soon as the gerbil went in for the broccoli, Mark would flip the box up, thus catching the gerbil (who had now been wandering around for 3 and a bit hours, surely it's little legs must be tired?

The gerbil entered the box, Mark lent forwards to flip the box up, the gerbil went airbourne! It flew over his shoulder and landed with a thud behind him. Mark turned around as quick as he could and attempted to grab the gerbil (oh btw, Mark doesn't like to touch gerbils lol)  It scarpered under the table, then ran out the otherside. Thankfully, I was at the otherside of the table and the gerbil, in it's sheer panic, was a bit confused and I managed to grab the little blighter. Now caged, we all broke into hard laughter at the vision of the flying gerbil. It must have only stood on the flap of the box, not actually gone inside, so as the box was flipped, the flap became a catapult (gerbilapult?) and fired it off into space. (me-thinks a diagram would be handy here so you really get the picture)

Note to self, lock the catflap before bed to stop gerbil hunting cat from getting back in.

Wednesday, January 6

So we got it...

...the snow that is.

We've been lucky so far and escaped it until yesterday. We were seeing reports on the news, photographs all over the internet, but our little part of the North West escaped it until 1pm yesterday. And once it arrived, it came down in bucket loads. You've all seen the bad nativity plays on TV where there's someone up in the rafters throwing fake snow down by the handful, it was like that only worse. I wasn't particularly worried about the blizzard outside because the ground was already wet and it wouldn't settle. As I looked out of the window at a quarter to three, 15 minutes before I had to get Isabelle from school, there were 3 inches of snow covering everything! yikes!  I tiptoed my car to school (still mid blizzard) and the traffic on the roads were making no dent in the snow on the roads whatsoever. It was covered in fresh snow as soon as it was driven on. Hmmm, call at the shop and get milk.. aha.. forward planning.

So we got home, slowly, but safely. At 4pm I txt'd my son (who has only been driving about 6 weeks) and warned him that the roads were really bad and to drive carefully. I got a reply of 'yes mother!' He only had to drive the 5 miles from his work and most of the journey was up a dual carriageway. At 6pm I sent him another txt to see how he was doing. He'd managed 3 out of the 5 mile trip. Everything was at a standstill.

Mark, my other half, phoned at 4.45 and said he was leaving work early. I asked if it was snowing really hard in Chester where he works (10 miles away). Yes it's snowing was the reply, but not THAT bad. I'm coming home on my motorbike (arghhhh no don't do it!) I proceeded to tell him how bad the roads were out here and that no way should he try to get home on his motorbike. He ignored me and said he'd see me soon.

At 6.55pm Mark walked in the door. He'd had to leave the motorbike roadside as the police stopped him and wouldn't let him go any further. He'd had to walk the last 3 miles home in the snow. At 7pm Russ walked in. He'd managed to get home in the car but it had taken him 3 hours and 15 minutes to do a trip that normally takes him 20 minutes at the most. My relief that they were both home holds no bounds.

I didn't know whether the school would be open for Isabelle or not this morning. I checked the website and it wasn't listed as closed. Most of the other schools in the area were on the list, but not hers. So off I tiptoed in the car to school to find when I got there that it was in fact closed! Grrrr. I said, it wasn't on the website when I checked at 8.30am, to a reply of, oh well it should be now. Fat lot of good that is to me stood outside the school. Grrrrrrr

Suffice to say... the world has stopped because it snowed.

Tuesday, January 5

If you're gonna do it...

Then do it properly.....

After spending the last three days feeling like absolute crap (today is the fourth day), I've been to the Drs. It's not 'just' a cold it's full on flu with an added viral infection. Does that make it an Marks & Spencers illness according to their adverts?

Cure? no... lay down and die quietly please. Oh great. Yesterday I could not pysically move after 4pm. I went to bed at 9.30pm and then got up every other hour to get a drink, have a wee, get more pain killers, kick stray cat out that had come in through the catflap, get annoyed at hubby who was playing with newly acquired iPod Touch in bed at 1am and woke me up!  He bought it from our son who has upgraded to iPhone, and since it was handed over to hubby, hubby hasn't spoken to me as he's had his nose glued to either the computer screen or iPod setting it all up.  All I wanted was a bit of sympathy and maybe a cup of coffee or two, but as I was laid on the sofa, I no longer existed.

Anyway, Isabelle has gone back to school this morning. The roads and paths were lethal. Ice lay under a coating of horrible slush and everything was very slippery. Still no actual snow here, but it's treacherous outside. This is made worse by the fact that to get anywhere we have to drive out of our close onto a main road. The main road is now 100 yards of roadworks and our road end is smack bang in the middle of the roadworks with no traffic lights to let us out. It's take a chance time to get out when the traffic appears to be stood still either end. It's manic! They are building a new Morrisons across this main road, which will be great when it's done but the chaos it's causing right now is unbelievable. It took me half an hour to get back from dropping Isabelle at school. It normally takes 5 minutes. This road is the busiest road in the area and you have to use it if you want to get anywhere, especially to my house. This is going to rile me up over the next few days (weeks?) until they get whatever bit of the roadworks they are doing, finished.

In the meantime, I am going to veg on the sofa with a coffee and watch flick through the mind-numbing daytime TV. Then I have a couple of issues to deal with on the computer. One of them needs some thinking about wording wise... but it's something that's been getting my goat for some time now and I really have to use tact when actually I want to wade in and really speak my mind, but.. alas, I'm not in a position to do that, so tact and diplomacy it will have to be.

Monday, January 4

and on we go...

So we're into the new year, the year of 2010. There seems to be a lot of questions about how to address 2010.  TwentyTen, Ten past eight? Is this decade to be called The teenies? The noughties never sounded right for the past decade, and teenies or teenties doesn't sound right either.

Anyway.. Hubby and son have gone back to work today after having the entire Christmas and New Year period off work. I always dread Mark having time off work. He's like a caged tiger and paces around looking for things to do until he settles into the 'we don't have to do everything at 100 miles per hour' mode and then he ends up at the opposite end of the spectrum barely moving. I can't believe how much this man can sleep. I managed to get one lay in (ie, past 7am) during the entire festive period and even then I had to haggle for it. Yet somehow it seems fine that he can lay in every morning until 9.30, 10.30 or even (as it was one morning) mid-day. I would have sent Isabelle up to bounce on him had I been home, but I was actually at the Drs with Isabelle and her ear infection.

[OMG! Isabelle just stood by me whilst I was typing and asked why I had put her name. She then read the last sentence and the only words she didn't know were actually and infection. Seems my 4 year old can read better than I thought.. note to self, be careful what I leave lying around / open on the computer screen]

I am really looking forward to my peace and quiet tomorrow morning. Isabelle is home today as it's a teacher training day and so doesn't go back to school until tomorrow. Now I love this child to bits, but my god she can talk incessantly about anything and everything. Her imaginary friend has been a godsend to me the past few days but I can still hear that constant yap yap yap. You've seen the painting 'scream'? Well that's me. It doesn't help because I am so full of cold (yes again!) my ears are blocked as are every other oriface in my head. I want to crawl into bed and lay dying quietly to myself, but of course, Isabelle is yapping to her imaginary friend whilst roller skating around the living room (wooden floors) and her skates are set to setting 2 which only allows them to roll forwards but has one helluva ratchet sound to go with it.

Bring on tomorrow please.. the quicker the better.

Friday, January 1

2009 Photographically

I'm no good at looking back over a previous year. My memory is shocking. I think that's one thing that my photography helps, it reminds me of places we've been and things I've seen.

No resolutions this year. I only let myself down and then beat myself up over it for the longest time afterwards. All I can really say about 2009, is that it wasn't a bad year for us, despite Mark having to take a huge pay cut or lose his job and then not know if he had a job at the end of that month, but he's still working, thankfully. We've had ups and downs but no major crisis and we're all still smiling, even if it is through gritted teeth sometimes.

So I thought rather than blether on, I'd post some photographs that I've taken during 2009 that remind me of times I enjoyed.

Happy New Year to anyone who reads my blog, and don't forget to keep popping back during 2010 :D

One of my favourite shots from last year. I bought some railway figure workers and basically just played. I did several sets, but I think this one turned out the best. 'Fixing the any key'

A zoo trip fairly early in the year gave me shots of loving giraffe and the baby elephants having a bath.

February meant a long long long awaited UK gig for Metallica. Awesome! I can't claim credit for the first photograph, my other half took it as I was way too short to get a shot like this, but look how close we were!!. The second shot is mine though, Dave McLaine from the support band Machine Head.

At the beginning of the race season, the British Superbikes came to Oulton Park. I couldn't have been any more in my element!! Young, muscular men in leather throwing very fast motorbikes around a track - and me taking photographs trackside. I went back for the second round in October.. more fast bikes... ahhhhh bliss.

Whilst we're at it, I might as well add the shots of James Toseland (MotoGP rider for us Brits) at Northwich Thundersprint as he very carefully picked me out of the crowd and stopped right in front of me and did donuts in the middle of the road. Ok, so maybe he didn't pick me out, but hey.. he did donuts in front of me ;)

Then summer arrived and the bugs came out to play. For the first time, I managed to photograph damselflies and a dragonfly aswell as getting in the face of a bee.


In July my little angel turned 4, left nursery and then in September she started school, which she absolutely adores. She is now reading and writing and I'm proud to say she's top of the class. I love this photo of her. It's not what I was aiming for, but this photograph sums her up. The second shot is one I took of her in a local park, she was swirling around in the sunshine in her 'pretty dress' as she calls it.

We spent a scorching hot afternoon at Tatton Park for the American Stars and Stripes Show, which gave me one of my favourite car shots to date.

Towards the end of the summer I went back to Oulton Park, this time for the Vintage Car rally.

I was given a beautiful bunch of flowers for my birthday by a friend. One of the roses was beautiful, so I photographed it in full bloom and again as it had died.

Back again to motorsports, and a day at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us with a variety of motorsports, including dancing diggers (yes.. really) and an upside down jetski.

And finally one of my favourite shots to date. An industrial sunset. The colours are just as they were in the sky. I've not altered them at all. Nature versus Manmade.

I think photographically this year, I've realised that in all honesty, I'm a motorsport photographer. I can do it, I love doing it, I don't struggle to see the shots, they're there right in front of my nose and I get such a feeling of calm yet excitement when I'm photographing fast cars and motorbikes. I do enjoy other genre of photography, but motorsports is the one I keep coming back to time and time again.

I have had several of my photographs published in newspapers and magazines. Unfortunately I've not been paid for them as they were for competitions or in the readers gallery section, and I've also sold a few photographs, but there's no way I will be able to live off sales LOL. I'm also enjoying my camera club (geeks united as my other half calls it). and I'm also currently enjoying winning the competitions there - ok so I'm in the beginners section, but that's where they put me. I'll take glory where I can find it LOL

So onwards to 2010. Bring on the racing season once more!!