Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Trains…projects… anything but weight loss…

Britain has been going through a spell of very freezing weather, with temperatures well below zero centigrade during the day and the customary ensuing chaos with all forms of transport.  Idiots driving at speed over black ice, planes unable to land on icy runways, trains’ mechanisms frozen, mad dogs and Englishmen going climbing in the midday sunny frozen wastes without the right kit – the usual.  We sorely need a few Canadians here to show us what’s what.

However the worst of it is in the north and east of the country, and yours truly is writing to you from the south west.  It’s freezing and foggy, but it hovers either side of zero and there’s no snow, so we snuggle down on the sofa and watch the craziness going on around us on TV.  That is until last Friday – which is why I’m writing this post. 

Apparently rail services between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington were severely disrupted, with people waiting at stations, eyes straining up to scan the electronic timetables one more time... No, they weren’t breaking out in sympathy with the icy conditions prevailing in the rest of the country.  What caused the delay was one train.... whose horn had stuck in the ‘on’ position. 

It took a long time for flummoxed staff to get advice from their bosses as to What To Do, and the decision in the end, after a long delay, was that it would not be safe to do the 2 hour journey to London with a horn blaring all the way, because trains use their horns to warn other trains of problems, and a horn on constant would have thrown their interpretation of the instruction books into meltdown.  No mention of what 2 hours of a high decibel shriek would do to the commuters, however...

So the service was cancelled eventually, and meanwhile all the other services were stacking up behind, with passengers – as ever – not knowing what on earth was going on.  Presumably the rail company didn’t want the ignominy of having to announce that the horn was stuck and that they couldn’t even blame the weather.

The icy winds are coming from Russia apparently, and the temperatures are set to rise very slightly nearer the end of the week, because.... the wind is changing direction and it will be blowing from Iceland instead.  Well whooppeedoo.


I’m sorry for the radio silence – I’ve had too many other things on the go.  After the second unfill I’m back to eating a little too much and not losing anything; a bit of willpower is required.  My 2-year contract with Taunton hospital ends on 17th December, the second anniversary of my lapbanding, and thereafter it’ll be up to me to visit them when I need to, at £50 a time.  I can see that I’ll put it off and put it off, to save money.  But I really need to keep losing weight, it’s so important to me (despite evidence to the contrary).  My weight chart over on the right is getting too long and straggly – at some point I’m going to summarise it a bit so it doesn’t take up so much space.


My last post was about my uncle, David Bridger, who died during WWII.  I’ve now started typing out his letters, and really look forward to putting the best bits on my blog; he wrote very well and was so interesting.  


I’ve been involved in a lovely project recently – compiling all the poems and doggerel written by my partner John over the years, gathering about 120 photos of him, his friends and family, and putting it all in a coffee-table book by using blurb.com.  This was a birthday surprise, and it was the best ever.  Anyone heard of Blurb?  I think it’s a US company with overseas branches here and there.  You download their software for free, then do the whole thing yourself online.  They give you plenty of advice with FAQs, and plenty of warnings on what to look out for, but it’s basically up to you.  They print exactly what you’ve done, with (I think) virtually no human intervention.  This keeps it relatively cheap, and if you’ve paid attention to detail, the results are fabulous.

The colours for the background weren't as wysiwyg
as I thought though - this was supposed to be dark green
to match his coat...

I paid a bit extra to have gorgeous paper with a satin sheen...

...and purchased 3 copies, which arrived in 4 days.

With hindsight, I should have just ordered one first so that I could see it properly, and spot the typos - as it was a surprise, I couldn't get any help with proof reading, and you know how easy it is to miss your own mistakes...  Alas there were 7 of them, which I later had to correct by typing the word on a sticky label, cutting it out and placing it over the top with tweezers.  I'm hoping to buy a few more copies with the errors properly corrected.

John loved it, though he's also embarrassed that his doggerell is being seen by friends and relations, and insisted that I type out an A4 label to stick inside the cover with a disclaimer that he didn't know what I was up to...  Anyway, I thoroughly recommend it as a milestone gift.


Photo Finish:
from Lonicera's non-digital archive

Valencia region, Spain



Lemon grove near Chiva

Valencia - following the train theme....



OneStonedCrow said...

Amazing that a noisy horn can cause such disruption to peoples' lives - and no-one was prepared to take the initiative and just rip the wires out ...

... I've been watching your big freeze on Sky News and wondering how my daughter is coping in London, haven't spoken to her for a few weeks.

Thanks for telling us about Blurb.

loved the pics.

Zanna said...

Was wondering where you'd got to - glad all is well in your world. Love the book - I use Snapfish - do calendars, coffee table books etc. but have a work colleague who used Blurb for her wedding photos - really nice. And have a bit of a nerve wondering where you'd got to since I haven't been around much myself Zxx

Andrew said...

As always lovely pictures.....

amandakiska said...

You know it is bad when the wheather system coming from Iceland is expected to warm things up.

I love the book! So cool! Do you mind if I ask how much you paid for it?

Sandy Lee said...

You know how Canadians get through the snow. We actually plough the streets. We pay lots in property taxes just to have the streets and sidewalks cleared and the snow trucked to snow dumps. Two years ago we had almost 250 cm of snow. Last year just over 100. Today there is a huge storm all over Eastern Canada, Montreal, Toronto, Southern Ontario hit with up to 50 cm of snow. And here we sit in the coldest capital in the world with nary a flury. We have about a cm on the ground. I feel like we are sitting in the eye of the storm. Glad though. Don't need to shovel. I just had my snow tires put on today so bring it on. Then I can get out my snowshoes and get a bit of exercise. Hope the rest of England gets dug out soon.

Lonicera said...

Thanks Graham - hope you don't mind, I've been showing people at work your gorgeous photos of Spirit, Mutt and Stoffel (not to mention the candle). This is one pet obsessed country, so there was a high "R" factor.
Thanks Zanna, I come alive when I get home and get on my computer to create or communicate... and then feel guilty because I haven't created a blog post in a while. I started down the route of Snapfish, but realised their strong point is albums with photos only. They couldn't cope with more than minimal text.
Thanks Andrew - all compliments are very much appreciated...
Amanda - each of the books cost just over £50 each (what's that, about US$85? I chose the most expensive options with hard cover, coffee table size, satin paper, etc. Total number of pages was 40, above which the price rises again. My colleagues at work tell me it's 'very reasonable'... I'm afraid I don't know. Obviously if you order over 10 copies the price goes down too.
Sandy - Okeydoke, don't want 2.5 metres of snow thank you very much!! Wow, what that must be like. I wonder what snowshoes are like to wear... John is going out carol singing tonight in very icy conditions (though not snowy) and at 83 and unsteady on his pins, I'm very concerned in case he should slip. But it's my last visit to my bariatric team in Taunton under the contract, and I can't miss the appointment.
Thanks for your lovely comments.

Vagabonde said...

I do not envy you this cold weather. Here we were down to 38 F today and it was so cold (3 C) but tomorrow it will be back to 50 (10 C.) I had not heard of Blurb. I have used blog2print to print my blog. I had the first six month printed in a book, with some of the comments, and you know my posts are quite long, so it was over 100 pages and it cost me about $85 as well, but it is a blog with posts and pictures. They sent me a 15% coupon so I had the next 6 months printed too. I think when I have many of my “recollections” about family or my childhood posted I’ll have only those posts printed in a book to give to my daughters.

Nola said...

We have been getting news reports on your "big freeze" over here. Our weather is weird also. Flooding one minute, locust swarms the next....drought somewhere else! Enjoyed your photos as always. I will get back into my blog shortly....I have been very, very slack!

sangye said...

Que frio! Te quedó muy lindo el libro para John. Te dejo un saludo para fin de año, ya viajo a los 38 C. Que estés bien.

Lonicera said...

It's been very interesting looking at blog2print, I'm still trying to figure out how much one can change things oneself. I too want to print my blog in perhaps yearly instalments.
Nola, I've since read your blog update and commented - it's great to read you again.
Gracias Marcelo.... el frío sigue, pero aguantamos - los gatos no, se quedan adentro! Que lo pases re-bien en La Rioja.

Alison said...

Am very excited to find your blog, I've only managed to find 2 other UK based lap band blogs.
Just wanted to say hello, will start reading my way through your blog now!

Lonicera said...

Thanks Alison! Have left a message on your blog.

Alison said...

Thanks Caroline, will check out the other blogs too.

I'm very nosey and am looking forward to reading all about you!
Shame about your contract being up with your provider, do they offer an extended contract? I'm dreading mine ending, I think that my provider charges over £100 a visit.

Linny said...

hi caroline,
thank you so much for come by :)
i found your blog very interesting with good pictures and writings especially that you write things that worthwhile :D

Pamela said...

Dear Lonicera: John must be thrilled; I loved this Blurb thing, I'll go see if I have any chance of getting printed stuff down here.

Funny story that of the train horn, well for us, not for those trying to travel that day!

And PLEASE don't loose your faith, you've already gone so far with your weight that it's just a matter of time. No need to hurry

Lonicera said...

Alison - I asked them to extend it, but they said that since they only charge £50 a visit whether or not I have fills or unfills, they couldn't come down any further and I might as well have a "pay-as-you-go" arrangement. I fear this means I'll keep putting it off to save money, and therefore won't try as hard - but we'll see.
Nice comment Linny, thank you very much, and hope you enjoy what you read...
Thanks Pamela, this is a difficult time of year to keep the faith - the extreme cold if nothing else - but I'm hanging in there till the new year. John's family have liked the book and I've been asked to order a few more, which has given me the chance to correct the typos - great relief - and also to make the pictures a bit bigger.

Joyful said...

The weather is terrible all over the place it seems. I've been out of country and returned to hear of icy snow storms in Ontario and torrential rains in New Brunswick. Both of these weather problems did a lot of damage and are rather extreme conditions for this time of year.

Unfortunately there was at least one loss of life in the Ontario storm. Here in Vancouver we have had overcast skies and dull and dreary days though no snow at the moment and no rain which is our norm. I've read/heard that due to Il Nina, this year will be much colder than usual. It seems to be so, brrr.

I love the book you put together for your partner. It really is a great idea. I love the posted photos of various scenes also. I wish you well with the continued weight loss and the best of the Christmas season.

Lonicera said...

Thank you Joyful, those are kind words. There's nothing better than really enjoying the job you're tackling, and to find at the end that it's turned out quite well. Though it was time-consuming, it wasn't difficult, so I felt compelled to share.

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