Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day of Action

Today I worked very hard, starting at 6.15am and not finishing until it was late. It was cold and it was windy. I wasn't paid for this work. I stood up and let people know that I think the deal offered by this government to make me work longer, pay more and take home less of a pension was not something I consider to be a good deal. In the proposals I miss out in every single way. I earn 'slightly' too much to avoid any protection, I am slightly too young to benefit from the protected last ten years. I still get to be 'taxed' 3% on my pension, which is a lot of money. If I thought the extra money being collected from ME was going to my pension it wouldn't be so bad, but its not. The treasury are simply going to take my money and pay off the national deficit!!

So thinking it through what should I do?? Well lots of people think that they should leave the scheme and freeze their pension. The government are obviously worried about that as they are making opting out hard. They propose that opting out once is not enough, you have to opt out several times a year, or they'll automatically opt you back in. Once that payment is made accidentally or not, you have lost it. 

If I freeze my pension and actually get to a pensionable age, if there is not enough pension to live on what will I do?? Well its simple, I will end up on benefits, whatever is around at that time such as the present day pension credits. The effect will cost the government of the day a fortune.

So is the pension such a luxury and a drain on finances?? It is self sustaining and if there was nothing paid in for the next 20 years it could still pay off all its liabilities. Is my pension a free bonus for me?? No it isn't I currently pay 6.8% of my wages into the pot. I get somewhat tired of the 'private' sector moaning that if they can't have it then we shouldn't. More often than not the people in the private sector are earning more than we are so can make their own arrangements to pay into a private scheme. We shouldn't be racing to the bottom, we should be looking at ensuring good pensions for all. 

So if we all pull out of the scheme where will it leave the country??? The pension fund is invested in British industry and infrastructure, its invested in the stock market. Could the loss of investment in those things plunge us all into a Greece style crisis? I think there is something to worry about there. 

So after a spell on the picket line we all headed for Hertford and took part in a fantastic Rally. It was well organised and very well attended with people from all sorts of jobs. 

NHS, Radiographers, Police Staff, Teachers, Council workers, Head teachers. Lots of different unions all marching together and making a lot of noise. Beth was off school as her own teachers were on strike so she joined in as well.

Beth made a great banner and it attracted the eye of the press, so it was Beth who ended up on BBC news and on the Welwyn Times Web site. I was on the local radio throughout the day at various news times. 
We were well supported throughout the day and received boxes of chocolates and money for the strike fund. I suspect we may have to do it all again some time soon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Glass works!

I have been having a go with my new torch, its super speedy and sometimes its a bit too fast for me!!! So its been a case of practicing until I make something I like. I have tried some different shapes and sizes. The beauty of this new torch is that it assists rather than hinder, I have tried out different glass and for the first time I have managed to make transparent glass look OK. I need to clean these beads a bit but I am getting there.
I also need to cool the beads a bit more before putting them in the kiln as a few have mandrel marks on them . But its a learning curve! I think I also need some sort of rack in there so that I can separate the mandrels that will make it easier to get more in.

The weekend has flown by can't believe we will be off to Amsterdam this coming Saturday. I think I am all sorted just need to book the visit to Anne Frank house, but waiting for payday before I do that!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Beth!

Happy Birthday Beth!! Beth is now 15 and my run of family birthdays has come to an end until next year. Beth was very lucky to have received a beautiful birthday 'cupcake' from the resident Copperfields baker, our neighbour Karen. She really did a fantastic job, just look at all that Delicious icing sprinkled with red sugar hearts, Mmmmm!!!

It was a huge hit, we took some around to Nan and Grandad and its all just about gone.
Yesterday I had a Christmas shopping day with Tom. We went over to Watford to get the last few bits we needed, it was an eventful day. 
On the way we dropped off Tom's car for its MOT and for it to have some light bulbs changed. The car, a Renault Megane is so useless that to change the light bulbs in the front you have to put it on a ramp and take the wheel off so that you can access the little hatch in the wheel arch, its madness. So it was nearly MOT time so we had the whole lot done at the same time. We arrived in Watford quite early around 9.30 and as we had rushed out neither of us had had a cup of tea, so because we are now people of a certain age we decided to find a place to have a cuppa. 
We sat down ordered a cup of tea and a slice of toast, they served us tea when the next thing to happen was the place was raided by Police!! A load of officers wearing stab proofs rushed in and locked us all in, they were not letting anyone out!! The girls behind the counter seemed bemused but the officers told us to finish our breakfast and asked us to leave. I really thought that we were starring in a candid camera episode. The only other customers were two middle aged women who were insisting loudly that the nice young policemen should frisk them, it was all so bizarre!!!! We were let on our way and who knows what happened in the cafe after that!
The good news is  I have done and wrapped just about all of my Christmas shopping, just a few bits left to get. I am now looking forward to my trip to Amsterdam next weekend. 

Monday, November 21, 2011


I nearly always have my trusty IPhone with me and since up grading the camera is really quite good. Still not brilliant at reducing camera shake but much better than the first version. I went for a walk yesterday and tried it out on a few of the remaining leaves.

I was particularly pleased with this one, its really close up and you can see the little hairs on the edge of the leaves, I think that shows the power of the 'phone'!!!!

So I think that you can do loads with a phone camera, so its well worth practicing!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beautiful Flowers!!

This morning I was surprised to receive a lovely bouquet of flowers from Mum and Dad. I've not had flowers for a while now so it was great to have something to brighten up the house.

This morning I was woken by the sound of workmen, Dad was having his fence replaced and Uncle Ed, Daniel and their friend Lee came over and started work. During the week I had ordered the panels, and new posts and they were all delivered yesterday. Typically the first panel and post went in well, but the second one was not so easy. It seems that there was a huge clump of concrete that they had to dig up with one of those vibrating machines, so that slowed things up. They worked very hard and it was really great to see them again. By late afternoon they had finished. To round the day off we managed to get rid of the old panels on freecycle!! Result!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

They are on the way......

We finally packed up our boxes and took them down to the shoe shop. As we arrived the collection lorry turned up and all the shoe boxes were loaded onto a cage, cling filmed into place and loaded onto the lorry. I spoke to the man who was collecting and he said that there were 61 from the shop and that these were all going to be heading for Swaziland. I had thought that they were all headed for Cold European places, so it will interesting to see what African children will make of woolly hats and gloves!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Samaritans Purse

Beth and I try and do a shoebox for Christmas, most years we are able to do that. Last year we were tripped up by the date and missed the deadline. We are better prepared this year!!!

The idea is that you wrap up a shoe box in Christmas wrapping paper and then you fill it with little gifts suitable for the age group that you choose. This year we have chosen and boy and a girl in the 5 to 9 years old age group. Once you have filled a box you add £2.50 to cover the admin around delivery and then hand it in to any of a huge number of collection points so that they can be delivered by Christmas. 

This year for the first time you can pay on line and that allows you to track where your parcel has gone. 

This is the girls one we have included jelly sweets, woolly hat and gloves, card games, felt pens, hair bands, stickers, note books, soap, scarf, flannel.

The boys box is similar but with some boy orientated toys. Beth and I are really looking forward to seeing where they end up!!

If you are interested in joining the scheme take a look at the Samaritans Purse Web Site
There are loads of collections points all over the country its a great way to bring a smile to a child's face and remind us all of the true meaning of Christmas.
Last Collection date 18th of November. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011


This past year there seems to have been a huge increase in Magpies. I have put a bird table in my garden with fat balls, seeds and a string of peanuts. The Magpies came down and demolished the fat balls, nicked the whole string of peanuts, including the string! Finally they all tried to hop on board and knocked over the bird table.
Now the leaves have gone I was surprised to see this lot basking in the sun. Most of the time there were ten of them, but some of the time there was eleven!!

It reminded me of the old Magpie saying -

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told
Eight for a wish
Nine for a kiss
Ten a surprise you really shouldn't miss 
Eleven for health
Twelve for wealth
Thirteen beware its the devil himself!!!

So here's hoping I get the surprise and that its a good one with the added bonus of health!!!
I wonder where my string of monkey nuts are now????

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What a Difference a week makes

This time last week we were starting out on our adventure in fact we were nearly there. This weekend I am in the process of trying to recreate the set up from last week!! During the week Debbie and I decided to upgrade our hot heads to Minors which means we also had to take the plunge and buy an oxygen supply to go with it. 
Our equipment arrived during the week in several huge boxes. There is still one box to come !
Last night I unpacked mine and set up the oxygen generator, while checking it over I discovered that he was named Monty!! There was a label on the front identifying him. He is a bit of a beast, heavy and on wheels. I need to swap my conservatory around so that I can get it all set up. I am hoping that I will be able to leave it set up all the time that way I should be able to sneak an hour here and there during the week. 

This morning has started off with Tom dropping Carl at work as he has a night out with friends and doesn't want his car (the exception now is a night in with us!!) I have hung out one load of washing and have another one on. We finally had to give in and yesterday switch on our heating.I think that's a record for us we usually end up switching on sometime in October!!

Beth has decided to do art as one of her options this year. She has been working very hard at it and has produced some lovely work. At the moment she has had to copy work, use shading, cross hatching and other techniques to produce her own version. She had trouble deciding between Art and Drama, I think she has made the right decision drama relies on other people to give as much as you are, art you can rely on your own talents. 
We will be calling around to see Mum and Dad this morning. They have had a turbulent week with Dad having a spell in hospital and Mum experiencing more problems with her leg. The wound has started to leak again and its clear that there is still an infection.The Doctor has upped her antibiotics and added another to the mix. Hopefully that will do the job for her. The surgeon did say at some point she might be grateful to have the metal work removed, something that she does not want to happen as she is worried about having another major operation. Last X Ray showed that the bone was growing nicely so fingers crossed she can get the infection sorted and move on.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Wonderful weekend!

This weekend my friend Debbie and I went on a course to learn how to make beautiful beads and fantastic jewelery. It was a very intensive and informative weekend and I would love to be able to do it all over again.

We went to Malvern setting off at 6am Saturday morning. We arrived for business around 9am and got down to it at 10am with a cup of tea and an introduction to the Lusherie and equipment.

Deb and I watched the demos and got stuck in. The torches were different to any that we had ever used before, we have hot heads which are extremely loud and extremely slow. Its hard to melt enough glass to actually make many beads with any size.  So after the safety instructions we started. It was great to be able to melt glass quickly and to learn techniques which we had been struggling with for ages. We spent the whole day making lots of lovely beads. 
In the evening we went out for dinner with Julie our instructor, her daughter and Jo the other lady on the course. Julie had provided a lovely lunch but we were ready for dinner!
The next morning we went back to check out the kilns and see what we had produced....

We were thrilled with our haul of beads we had managed to produce a heart a pond bead (although mine was more swamp than pond!!) We had to make some little beads which I had huge problems with, I simply found them too hard to do, It was like rubbing your tummy and patting your head. The glass melted quickly and I kept losing the beads off the mandrel dropped them onto the table!! Debbie managed to turn her torch into a flame thrower !! She lit it and produced a 3 foot long flame which gave us a fit of the giggles, we took ages to settle down after that one. I then went onto dropping a blob of glass onto the torch blocking one of the nozzles (eek!!) I was mortified but Julie was very nice about it all, obviously cursing the day she agreed to let us darken her doorstep!!!

On Sunday morning we arrived back at Julies after a night in our B and B and a great breakfast. We were introduced to our next instructor George, she had arrived to teach us all how to transform our beads into wearable jewelery all with the use of some copper wire, a hammer and assorted pairs of pliers!

I am so pleased with the results we made all the metal work, all the clasps, all the little coils and the beads!! 

This is possibly the biggest bead I have ever made !! 

Possibly the biggest surprise of the day is the bead above which we made into a ring. It looks great on and its definitely something I would make again.
So if you are considering doing some glassy courses try out this course available here at By George, its Lush
I would recommend the hospitality of Julie, her encouragement and unflappability. George got us all making fantastic creations with ease and a total expectation that we would succeed (I wasn't certain that I would!!)

Thank You both for a great weekend, I hope to do it again sometime soon!!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Pretty Witch!!

Well Halloween was great there were loads and loads of really cute little kids all dressed up. We had loads and loads of people calling most were with their parents. I went around with Beth and the neighbours and between them they had quite a haul of sweeties!!
I think that this year is likely to be the last one that Beth does, she was more of a supervisor this time rather that a taking in part witch!! Another sign of the times I suppose, over the years we have been out there with a variety of different street kids, but Beth is the last from this house in a while!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Glorious Autumn.

We have been very lucky with the weather this autumn, we have had lots of warm gorgeous day and the trees have been stunning and very colourful.

There are lots of berries on all sorts of trees I hope that isn't a sign of a hard winter last winter was tough enough!!

This time of the year is special, all of our children are born in the autumn and I can still remember going into hospital to have them, the weather was nice and just on the turn into cooler weather, but once we were on our way home it was virtually winter in the space of a couple of days!!
Happy Autumn!!