A collection of random wafflings as they pop into my mind

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Eye spy...

Well this week I finally had an eye test, only a year or two after I was supposed to have them retested. As it turned out, my eyesight had deteriorated so marginally I didn't need a new prescription. In yet another incidence of "it's a small world isn't it". It turned out that the optometrist was due to go to a dinner party that evening with the course leader of my degree.

Despite the lack of need for a new prescription it ended up being an expensive visit as I ended up getting a pair of prescription sunglasses for driving and decided to go for the additional test where they take a digital photograph of the retina. This wasn't a test that I really needed as I'm not in any of the high risk groups, but Mum found it so fascinating when she had it done that she advised me to splash out the extra for it too.

It turns out that my retina is perfect and is a very unusual shade of pinky/grey/purple (see that's why I like purple!*). She spent a lot of time explaining the landmarks of the retina to me and knowing that I'm studying a profession allied to medicine, showed me lots of different images displaying different conditions that can be diagnosed by the technique and how it can be used to monitor conditions. Definitely worth the extra £10 just for the entertainment value!

* The optometrist was not able to confirm this hypothesis.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Over the last few weeks I've started researching our family history (well I say I - my friend Martyn has done pretty much all of it as he's researched his own family tree and has the ability to find things on databases that I lack!) .

I've never had any great desire to know who my ancestors back in 1421 were or how they lived, but the more recent family history has always fascinated me. Nana always used to tell us about how her mother was bedbound and yet still raised a large family and cooked, ironed and generally ran the house from her bed. I always wondered why she had been confined to bed and whether that would have been the case today. Whilst looking for some family photographs recently I came across newspaper cuttings from 1953 about how she went to visit the Isle of Man as a guest of the tourist board. (if you click on the picture you can enlarge it)

I started wondering about what sort of life she had led - whether she had brothers and sisters, what her relationship was like with her parents and what she would think of the family if she was still alive today. One of Mum's cousins had written an amazing letter giving as much detail of the family and relations as she could remember, which gave us a great starting point. We've managed to get a copy of her birth & marriage certificate. It's amazing to see a facsimile of the actual entries, the handwriting and the clues it gives us about life at that time. We've also found her family on the 1901 and 1891 census, and again the information is amazing. You can see how much the area was dependent on the textile industry. Occupations listed on the pages we've been looking at include cotton spinner, cotton weaver, calico weaver, velvet stiffener and cotton minder.

Going back in the census to her mother's family - we've discovered that in 1861 the family were living in a cellar with another family and you can see how they literally moved up in the world - by 1871 they appear to be living in a house. I don't feel that at this stage I want to go any further back than that point. Knowing who my great great grandparents were is about the limit of them feeling like real people who have shaped the family I've been brought up in.

So the aim is to get back to that stage on all branches of the family tree. We've been asking all the relatives we can think of if they've got any information about the family history. Trying to collate it all in a way that makes sense to me is a huge undertaking and needs a very, very, very, very large sheet of paper!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

One of those days.

Today Mum and I had arranged to visit my Auntie. I should have know it was going to be one of those days when just as we were getting ready to leave Mum realised that she couldn't find her glasses and thought they were probably still in Dad's car, which was in Morecambe with Dad. So, I said I'd drive. How wise this was I wasn't sure as since November the furthest I've driven has been to the Doctors (about 4 miles away) and to get to my Auntie's it's a good hour down the motorway.

So off we went, negotiated the slip road onto the M6 no problem, nice light traffic that was easy to drive in, then we saw the flashing 50 sign. No traffic about, no one slowing down. Another 50 sign, same situation. Then just as we went past the first junction the traffic ground to a halt. After 5 minutes or so of going absoultely nowhere, Mum got out of the car and went for a wander. She came back after talking to a lorry driver who told her that a coach full of school children had overturned just after the next junction(we found out afterwards that fortunately no one was seriously injured).

So everyone got out of their cars and chatted and was entertained by the mad people trying to reverse back up the slip road and then the people who drove up it the wrong way off the motorway. It was especially entertaining when the police arrived and told them off.

The police motorcyclists were out in force - one came round and told us we would be there for about two hours and a little later they were back stopping at every stationary vehicle and checking that people were okay and handing out bottled water. Trust us to pick the hottest day of the year so far to get stuck on the M6!

Fortunately as we had our mobile phones with us we were able to let people know that we were stuck there and so when the traffic finally got moving we came off at the next exit and headed home. The one benefit of being stuck there in the height of the midday sun was that the house felt cool when we got home!

It's here!

Okay so I should have posted this last week but I forgot. On Friday Mum and Dad collected their new toy.

It's really nice inside it has a seating area at the front (which makes up into a double bed), the kitchen down one side, with the bathroom and toilet down the other and a single dinette at across the back which makes up into a single bed with a bunk over it. (The picture shows it with some of the blinds closed to keep the heat out).

The really exciting bit about it though is not on the inside - it's that it's been fitted with a motormover. This means that it's remote controlled! We pulled up on the road outside the house, unhitched it and with Dad directing it using the remote control it took itself up the driveway. No sweaty pushing here! It was a little bizarre to watch it move almost silently along the road under its own power and yet it was so cool.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It seemed like a good idea.....

Somehow I've got to turn this (netting, lace, lining, interfacing, zip, boning, thread, assorted flowers and did I mention the seven metres of shantung taffeta)

into a dress for the gala dinner at the Discworld Convention on Sunday 20th August.

I blame Mum for a) offering to help me make the dress and b) telling me not to worry that the pattern I really liked was labelled as an advanced one. The french instructions on the pattern describe it as plus difficile which sounds even harder than advanced if you ask me. Fortunately Mum is an experienced dressmaker (and very patient with me) and so I'm vaguely confident that it'll end up looking something like this (the one on the right)

Wish me luck! So far it's taken two days to cut out all the pattern pieces and fabric. I've also discovered that compared to the pattern I have a low waist and so I've learnt how to drop the waist and raise the hips. Steep learning curve here I come...