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Touristing Helsinki

♥Aug. 8th, 2017 // 02:46 pm
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We've spent the last couple of days doing the tourist thing in Helsinki: we bought a 48-hour travel and museum pass and everything!

Yesterday, the weather was very changeable. We went for a walk around the harbour, visited two cathedrals and the city museum, then decided that a boat trip around the islands sounded nicely out of the rain. While we were waiting to board, it threw down and I got soggy feet, but it cleared up (and my feet dried) while we're were motoring around looking at the view.

It was raining a bit when we got off, but we decided on another boat out to the old island fortress. As we got off that boat, it threw down again, and my feet got wet, again.... We looked at a couple of the museums on the island then headed back to the hotel, where my feet gradually de-wrinkled.

Today is much nicer: warm and sunny. We went to the zoo (also on an island) this morning (generally very nice, although I wasn't keen on the size of the tiger enclosure), then came back into town for lunch followed by the national museum (really excellent new exhibit on pre-history, and nicely balanced post-independence annotated photograph display, the older stuff in the middle was fairly uninteresting and old-fashioned) and the Design Museum (good excerpts from the collection, nice temporary display, wasn't entirely clear on the point of the vaguely future-of-design section, at least half of which I'd personally call either food science or modern art but I guess it's subjective!).

We're rather knackered now, so we're having a rest before dinner. Seen a few familiar faces here and there, and I'm sure there will be more tomorrow.

Slightly put out by the combination of wooden floors, thin towels and no hotel gym, as my back's a bit unhappy and I'd have liked to do some exercises. Can't see any programme items that look like they'll involve potentially-borrowable yoga mats, either. Bah.

I appear to look sufficiently Viking that people keep speaking to me in Finnish (including the girl who cadged a cigarette then asked me why I was here then wanted to know if I accepted Jesus). Mike gets English every time.
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Theatre recommendation

♥Aug. 1st, 2017 // 10:06 pm
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This evening, we went to see The Play That Goes Wrong. It is well worth a trip. I don't usually like things that are very slapstick, but I thought it was hilarious.

And the set is amazing. I was sitting next to a theatre type, who was saying how much he'd like to stage it but couldn't imagine getting the set right.
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Bits and coughs

♥May. 4th, 2017 // 10:10 am
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My post-Eastercon stomach bug turned into a post-Eastercon cold, which several other people have also been complaining about.

I'm getting better, I think, but I've thought that several times now and then woken up the next day feeling grotty again. This has led to quite a lot of lying on the sofa feeling pathetic and not very much actual getting things done. The weather has cooperated with this: we've finally had some rain, after an entirely dry month, which is very good and means that the grass is finally growing in the field. This also means that the weeds are taking over the flower beds, and neither feeling grotty nor the weather is conducive to doing anything about them.

And we still haven't planted up the polytunnel, but we have an excuse in the form of the irrigation system, which should have been here yesterday but isn't yet, and which probably needs to be in place before the plants go in, to avoid disturbing or damaging them when we try to get it figured out.

GB also got a bit neglected in there: going away and then being ill meant that he didn't get ridden for about ten days in a row, and I'm afraid that that might have been too long for him. We've had three goes on him since, most recently this morning, and he's not doing very well. A couple of times, he's also nearly gone down on his bum when trotting down the hill at bed time. I'm going to wait for a warmer day and then have a go on him in the afternoon, when he's had plenty of time in the field to get rid of any stiffness, but I fear it won't be much better and it'll finally be time to officially retire him.

It's not been all bad, though: in there we've had some visitors, both overnight and for the day, been out to Margate to see an exhibition that wasn't as much as we'd expected about textiles but was quite interesting anyway and gave me a few things to think about (coffmayhaveboughtanewloomcoff). We also hosted various fannish crafty types for a day of crafty things, during which staggering amounts of tea were consumed (at least until we ran out) even when you allow for the fact that Mike and I kept forgetting to ask if more was wanted....

Coming up in the next week: Quilt Club, and a workshop, and then Mike's Mother is coming to stay. So nice and recuperative, then.

LJ has reset my cookie, and I'm presuming that logging in will require TOS agreement, so I've stopped reading there.
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Good / bad

♥Nov. 4th, 2016 // 04:22 pm
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Last night, we went to see The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets Do Shakespear, the last of the Canterbury Festival events that we had tickets for. It was tremendously good fun, easily our favourite thing this year, and I thoroughly recommend going if you get the chance.

(I have a vague memory there was a SFSP show at a convention some time in the last few years, possibly even Loncon even though I'd have thought I'd be less vague about it if so. Does anyone know if I'm right?)

Today, it rained all afternoon and the boys went out with their raincoats on for the first time they really needed them (they'd had them on a couple of times because it was just a bit chilly). Unfortunately, when I brought them in and put their night-time rugs on I found that GB was fine but Bugs was utterly sodden. I've sent a slightly stroppy email to the woman who cleaned and (in theory) re-proofed them. Mistakes do happen, and at least their thin raincoats will dry out quickly, and I can just order a can of spray and fix this myself, but my real concern is that some of their padded raincoats haven't been re-proofed, in which case the boys will be very uncomfortable and cold standing around in them and they'll take days to dry out before they can be used again....

Bugsy's leg was again not right when I lunged him this morning, and GB was a bit wobbly in his rear legs. I'm hoping that Bugs is having problems when he's lunged a lot, and that they'll go away if we stop doing it and just ride him instead. This might be wishful thinking, but it does fit: last year, we started Mike lunging him to get his confidence back and a few weeks later our riding instructor noticed a problem, and then this year I only started lunging him few weeks ago, when they moved back down to our field.... Wait and see.
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Dilly Keen

♥Nov. 1st, 2016 // 03:09 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1184210.html]

Last night, we went to see Dilly Keen (from Fascinating Aida) at the King's School, part of the Canterbury Festival.

It was a good show, but a bit downbeat for our tastes (most of the songs seemed to be about failed love affairs!). As an encore ("Usually we'd do a song, but we've got this fabulous piano..."), she and her accompanist did a piano duet: I'd forgotten that she can actually play serious piano as well as just noodling along to the songs.

Today, I've been to little quilt club, where I did some folding of squares for the quilt I've been working on for months (it's going to be very pretty, I think, but it's quite tedious so I'm doing a bit at a time) and then started a couple of Christmas decorations. It was nice to see people, and have a natter.

Yesterday when I exercised the horses neither of them seemed quite right: GB's bad leg was bothering him a bit and, more worryingly, I think that Bugsy's leg, which we'd thought was better, might have been a bit not-right as well. I'm going to give him a couple of days off and then see how it looks.
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Bits, also pieces

♥Jul. 27th, 2016 // 11:27 am
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Yesterday evening, we went to see an outdoor production of She Stoops To Conquer. I think we were about the only people who hadn't got there an hour early to have a picnic, but they still managed to find us a spot to put our rug. Fun performance, if rather silly! It got bloody chilly towards the end, though.

Before that, I headed off to the hospital for a smear test, which has been bewilderingly hard to arrange: I got my letter about a month ago, but learnt when I called my GP that their nurse only has appointments (I exaggerate not) at 9am, 9:20am, 3pm and 3:20pm on Mondays, or 9am or 9:20am on Fridays. Mondays and Fridays being the days Mike is most often on London, and first thing being awkward with the boys, the second time I called to rearrange it (Mike having had to go to work on the first attempt) I asked if there was anywhere else I could go instead. The receptionist pointed me at the hospital sexual health clinic, so I called them and made an appointment. The actual appointment took three times longer than it should: the nurse spent the first third explaining that they didn't actually do smear tests there, because they didn't get paid for it, but she'd do it anyway but had to refamiliarise herself with the forms and the third third telling me in great detail what would happen next (understandable, as I suspect she spends most of her time dealing with nervous teenagers). I did learn (after I said 'I remember it hurting more than that') that they use a nifty little silicone brush these days, rather than a wooden scraper. I remain boggled that the sexual health clinic isn't supposed to do smear tests, and am becoming even more inclined to change GP to one with a non-ludicrous appointment system: even if the other one I can go to has a crappy system, it can't be worse than what I currently have to put up with. I also learnt that having had the HPV vaccination doesn't get you out of having smears, which is a shame and (IMO) something that's not been emphasised enough.

The cows are out in the valley, as of yesterday, which rather buggers up Jo's rehabilitation walks. When Mike's not at work, we'll be driving her up to the woods but with another week before she's allowed to do hills it's a problem if I haven't got the car. Mutter.
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Eventful day

♥Sep. 24th, 2015 // 07:54 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1108970.html]

This morning it was moist, so we put of riding until the afternoon and, after we'd done the yard jobs, I retired to the kitchen: spiced elderberry cordial, sorting the boxes of apples and tomatoes with subsequent passata and apple juice, general tidying.

Mike, meanwhile, was upgrading my iPhone to iOS 9, as he'd already got it downloaded and wanted to do it before it started requiring 9.1 (or whatever the never version is). It seemed to be taking a terribly long time.

When we got in after walking Jo, the phone rang and a nice young man said he was calling from the bank. I pointed out that my phone was showing a different number to the bank's, and he said he'd leave a note on my account with his extension number. A quick call to Mike's mobile Just In Case and I was soon speaking to him again: First Direct is running a reward scheme for long-term customers, and they're sponsoring the Northern Ballet this year, and they're doing Wuthering Heights in Canterbury next month and would I like to go? Two free tickets, drinks receptions before and after, talk from the director, Meet The Cast. Oh, go on then. I don't think Mike's very keen but I'm sure I'll find a taker (anyone fancy it? I have asked Mrs Next Door as well, but she doesn't strike me as the ballet type).

(Mike is in a small huff, because he's been a customer for much longer and they didn't offer him tickets to a thing he had no interest in seeing. I pointed out that they may be deliberately offering them to women. Then I remembered the time they gave me a case of wine for being a good customer, too!)

Around this time, Mike learnt that there was a known bug in iOS 9, fixed in 9.1 (see above), that left it hung at the 'swipe to restart' stage, and started downloading 9.1 (ditto) in the hope he could just overwrite it.

A bit more faffing in the kitchen, and sticking a cake in the oven, and going Harvesting in the garden (the tomatillos in the ground have done much less well than the ones in pots on the patio, which seemed odd. But suddenly they've gone mad with enormous fruit since I took out the tomatoes plants next to them!) and it was time to take Jo to the vet for jabs and a general check-up. I got about two miles from home and the car started making A Noise, which I thought might be a branch under the car: I pulled into a parking space and had a look. Couldn't see anything but, oh, wait, that corner of the car seems to be lower down than it should be: flat tire. Better call Mike. Oh, wait, my phone's both bricked and at home. Just as I started to swear, a dog walker came back to his car and let me borrow his phone (I think he was a bit worried I was going to ask him to change the tire!). Mike remembered, as I had not, that there was an electric pump in the car, so I got the tire pumped up and made it home. One quick tire change later (he's had practice, recently!) and I was re-booked at the vet and on my way again.

Jo was her usual good self, even if she hates having the Kennel Cough vaccine up her nose, and was long-suffering when having her bum squeezed (she's been itchy lately). She didn't want to lie down and roll over for the vet to check where she had the cancer removed, so in the end I just picked her up and sat on the chair with her on my lap, facing out. The vet was bemused and impressed, particularly when Jo stayed in the same position to have her claws trimmed! ("I'll have to remember that trick... although I can't imagine many dogs would stay in that position while I did their claws...") Jo'd not been brushing her teeth properly, though, and needs them cleaning. The vet sternly warned me to keep an eye on her weight until I get it done, as the price for sedation goes up at 35kg and she's currently 34.45.

We did manage to ride, after I got back, which was good except that GB was favouring his dodgy leg a little, which is always worrying. There seemed to be an awful lot of washing up when we got in, though, and that plus cleaning the kitchen floor (shocking state, simply shocking. Please don't listen to anyone who tells you I'm house-proud) occupied the time until dinner, and now that I've written this I'm off to give the boys their evening hay!

Edit: Oops. It appears that the things we failed to do today was put the ducks to bed after we'd ridden: the perils of breaking your routine. They'd gone in on their own, though, and nothing had followed them home. Phew.
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London Town

♥Oct. 12th, 2014 // 08:00 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1045980.html]

This morning, we took the boys and Jo out for a hack (GB seemed ok, which is good. He seemed mostly ok yesterday, but started to be a bit off when he was getting tired), and then I headed off to the station to go to London.

I met up with Erik for (fishy, as it happened) lunch, and then we went to see a Steve Reich concert, which was pretty good. Clapping Music seemed a bit less crisp than the last time I saw it, but then that was a few years ago and was his 75th birthday concert, so I suppose he's allowed. The second of the three pieces with instruments was my favourite, I think.

In a 'not what you'd expect from me' moment, I was a bit miffed by something, though. I did vaguely think, part way through, that it was a little odd and a bit of a shame that there weren't any women in the six musicians (excluding the composer). I was then initially pleased and later rather annoyed when a woman appeared for the last piece: she was there to turn pages for one of the pianists. Given that only four of the musicians were in the final piece, it did rather look as though the two not in it felt that turning pages was beneath them and they'd better get a girl in to do it instead....

Horrible drive home, sheeting rain and in the dark. Still, made it ok, and now back with a pleased pooch!
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Wyrd Sisters

♥Nov. 6th, 2013 // 10:52 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/918847.html]

This evening, we went to see Wyrd Sisters, put on by the Cambridge Players.

The traffic was horrible enough getting there to make us dubious about mid-week theatre, so we ended up eating int he theatre cafe, which was pretty good.

The theatre was the same one that we saw The Invisible Lighthouse in a couple a months ago, and it was even less full tonight. As far as I could tell, all of the audience were close personal friends of the cast, or possibly occasional members of it for other plays, and none of them had read the book, so god knows what they made of it.

As we were leaving, the people behind us were asking in confusion what the turtle had to do with anything when it wasn't used in the play:

It was quite fun, though, and not many fluffed lines. Very long, though: 7:30 until very nearly 10pm, with a shortish interval. That meant that the pooch was on her own for getting on for five hours, and she was really very pleased to see us when we got back!
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How does that work?

♥May. 19th, 2013 // 06:43 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/901146.html]

Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri has freckles and a ginger 'tash. Is that common in Iraq...?

This morning, Mike and I did a dressage competition. GB was utterly terrified of the judges, which was somewhat irritating. Jonny did very well, and wasn't phased by it all, which was very good. (Jonny has also progressed to the stage where Mike can rest a set of running clippers on his neck without him freaking out, although we've not yet managed to tidy up is mane and get it out of the way of his saddle. On the minus side, it took Mike five minutes to get on him the other day, and that would have been longer if I'd not gone over and glared at him....) As it happens, there's another dressage comp, doing the same tests, at the other end of the lane next Sunday: I'm considering doing it in the regular saddle to see how much of a difference it makes.

That top I was muttering about sizing on arrived: I bought a size 10 in the end and it's not a bad fit. It's certainly not inches too small. I might even get something else from the same designer.

Does anyone have any experience of M&S furniture? Specifically, are the drawers nice and smooth or do they stick in an annoying way? There appears to be something of a gap in the market: lots of places do cheap fake wood stuff with drawers on tracks (eg, Ikea) and lots of places do cheap-ish actual wood stuff with drawers not on tracks, but actual wood and drawers on tracks suddenly becomes fiendishly expensive.

We went to see Travels With My Aunt at the Mernier, earlier in the week. It's really quite good, I do recommend it. Very silly, but rather fun.

We're now even more likely to having the new house from 31 July: the Scottish paperwork the next step up the chain has been signed with that date, so all we have to do now is get a structural engineer in to say "Nah, your surveyor was just worrying about nothing" and we're sorted.

I'm looking forward to that: at the moment, I'm not allowed to buy anything bigger than a duck*, but Mike says that once we've got that bit out of the way then I can start buying things as big as a greyhound**, which is very exciting. The bit where I get to start working out the optimal dates to order furniture so that the delivery times mean it arrives when we're moving in is even more exciting, but that's a little way off yet.

Next Friday is my work summer fun day. I can hardly contain my excitement. I'm not sure how they will top the fun-packed wonder that was the Christmas outing, but I'm sure that they'll manage. (It's all a big secret, I think: the gels keep asking me if I've paid any invoices that might give them clues. I haven't. Well, not unless we're going to a printing factory, or doing a bit of redecorating.)

* But not an actual duck. I have a mean husband.
** Ditto. I have pointed out that *he* bought something that was in fact as big as a horse, but he says that it doesn't count because it doesn't have to be stored in the flat. Hmph.
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Bits and bobs

♥Apr. 9th, 2013 // 03:58 pm
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The thought occurred that a) my sewing machine's not been serviced in at least a decade and b) I will shortly not live a short drive from a sewing machine repair shop. So I thought I'd get it de-fluffed and oiled before we move. Just called the shop, mostly to check that I could park, and he said that it would be from £50 for one of that age (I don't know exactly how old it is, having stolen it from my mother, but it's a New Home, and New Home rebranded at Janome a decade ago). I foolishly then thought "I wonder if it's worth spending the money?" and have now been drooling over the features of modern sewing machines. There's one that's got a built-in mini-overlocker, and it's only £200!!! I always wanted an overlocker, they're fabulous...

At least, I hope to only live a short drive from said shop for a little longer. The people we want to buy from did have a second viewing at the weekend, so fingers are firmly crossed. Today was frantic tidying for a viewing of our own, after I got back from the yard. The people we've had seem to be fairly equally split between those who do and do not want to knock down the wall between the kitchen and the living room; I can see both sides, but I do like being able to shut the door.

While I was at the yard, I took GB out for a plod in the woods. As I left, the girl who runs the yard was just finishing up a lesson in the school. Only slightly more than half way around the woods, she overtook me, which was a touch embarrassing. On the other hand, after she walked alongside me down the hill she said "Is it ok if I go off?" and headed on at full-tilt. For about twenty yards, at which point her horse saw an unfamiliar log and went nuts: GB gave her horse a slightly bemused look and then kept plodding, at which point it realised it wasn't actually a tiger and followed him.

We remain, however, a one-horse household. We thought we'd found a good one last week, but the vet comprehensively failed him yesterday ("There's no point charging you for a five-stage vetting.... It's £150 for a two-stage, but I barely got to stage two so call it £100"). Have now started phoning people like GB's chiropractor, and stopping to chat with people I know to say hello to on the lane, to see if they know of anything.

(There's a slight deadline on this, as a) I don't want GB to be on his own at the new house and b) I want Mike to have lots of lessons with our current instructor as he's getting used to the new horse.)

Next weekend, we're going to have a few days away from home, and maybe we'll try and find some horses to look at as well.

Last weekend, we went to see This House, where we sat in the Opposition and got swooshed around the stage a lot. It was very good, although I fear I may have missed some of the references. I did, however, know who Finchley was when she got mentioned, so she'd already been on my mind.

Eastercon seemed to go well, and we seem to have escaped the various con cruds, which was a relief. We were probably protected by the power of Mike's dongle. The auction went suspiciously well: would anyone like to own up to stuffing the Smash Tin with £20s, or will I have to live with having more money than my records suggest I should?

I'm off to the GP tomorrow, to follow up on my blood pressure. I've bought a little machine since then, and have been taking it every week or so, so I have a nice little graph showing that it's consistently on the boundary between "normal" and "go to the doctor if you feel faint", so hopefully that will put this silliness to bed. Of course, then there's the other row to have, but one thing at a time. And at least I don't have to carefully not get annoyed now. Am torn between demanding a cholesterol test to prove my point and not wanting to risk it in case it's fractionally high and they spend the rest of my life trying to put me on bloody statins.

Work continues, much to the surprise of Some People. Boss needs to make up her mind what she wants to do when I move, though, and continues to put it off as she is Too Busy And Doesn't Want To Think About It. I keep meaning to nag her, but she's frightfully stressed.

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Pony woes

♥Dec. 12th, 2012 // 03:42 pm
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Having managed to entirely get rid of the last lot of pinworm, GB's started scratching his bum again in the last couple of days.... Presumably, he has a favourite scratching post somewhere in the field, and managed to reinfect himself with it.

More worryingly, he's lost about 20kg in the last couple of months. I did think that he'd lost weight because he'd had that time off work, but now that I've done another measurement and looked at the trend (I have a nifty little graph on my phone that I use to keep track of it), it's still going on so that can't be the only thing. He's been a bit pathetic over the last few days, too.

So, today I got the vet to come and look at him. The vet wandered up the yard, got pointed in the right direction, came up to the stable and said "Oh, it's grumpy that I'm here to see!"

The current working hypothesis is that, as well as the pinworm, which doesn't really do anything but give them an itchy bum, being back, he's also picked up encysted redworm, which tends to cause weight loss and lethargy.

(In discussing it with the yard owner later, she pointed out that he didn't get the usual wormer - which covers redworm - last time around, because he'd just had the pinworm specific - which may not.)

(He's likely to be very susceptible to worms, both because he's such and old man and because he spent the last decade in a pretty much worm-free environment, so he's got no resistance.)

So, plan is that there's a poo sample going off to the lab for an egg count, and hopefully it will be positive for redworm, which we can treat at the same time as the pinworm. If the count is clear, it's probably time for blood tests and such, which I'm sure will be delightful (even today, GB slammed the vet into the wall in revenge for using a stethoscope on him. I dread to think what drawing blood would be like). The vet's also going to send over a bottle of magic potion that I can put on his bum to actually kill the eggs (have to wonder why the previous vet didn't give me some of that, but there we go).

On the plus side, we did have a very good lesson. We kept it slow, and by the end of it I was getting a really lovely walk out of him. That's more impressive than it sounds, as he has an incredibly pathetic walk normally.

Last Friday, I got a last-minute spare ticket to see Scenes From An Execution. It's a very strange play. We missed the first ten minutes due to too much chatting over dinner, which probably didn't help, but I'm not sure by how much.
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Busy busy

♥Jul. 23rd, 2012 // 02:46 pm
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The basketry course got better, thankfully. The second and third days involved far more doing and far less waiting for the instructor to demonstrate, so it was a lot less annoying.

On the first two and a bit days, I made a green basket with yellow spikey bits, which I don't like at all. (When she was showing us the things we could make, I thought 'ew, no, not that style', but then it grew on me. Then it un-grew. Plus, they're not really my colours, much too bright.). On the rest of the third day, I made a nice curve-shaped basket in various shades of dark green, which I like much much more.

Picture with really bad colours:

(It's not actually the same colour as our carpet!)

I completely failed to see a dance performance on Thursday evening at Tate Modern: I woke up in the morning and was utterly knackered, so I cancelled.

I was feeling better by the weekend, though: garden party on Saturday evening, Marcus Brigstock doing a practice gig for Edinburgh on Sunday, and we went out to ride both mornings. GB wasn't terribly happy with the heat on Sunday, though, so this morning I headed off bright and early (or at least, once the bloody torch had cleared my route) before it got too hot. But he still wasn't terribly happy. He's been very clingy, and keeps snuggling up against me: I think he's missing his boyfriend, who moved to a different yard on Saturday. It's slightly cruel, but I hope the boyfriend doesn't settle: if he doesn't, he's coming back to us and getting a stable instead of living in the field. I wonder, only semi-jokingly, if one can get prozac for ponies?
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Death list

♥Jun. 30th, 2012 // 08:02 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/876875.html]

Yitzhak Shamir gets points for [livejournal.com profile] drplokta and [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte, but I'm still in the lead!

Mike quite liked One Man Two Guvnors, but I thought it was pants: every single character was a pretty cruel stereotype, including but not limited to The Stupid Welshman, The Dumb Blonde, The Sexy Secretary (actually, bookkeeper, but), The Loves-His-Family-But-Breaks-Your-Knees Gangster, The Elderly Waiter Who Drops Things, The Black Man and, indeed, The Embarrassed Audience Plants, and the basic gist of the play was that the audience were encouraged to laugh cruelly as the stereotypes caused people to get in trouble. Lovely.

(I've seen various reviews that say things like "a pantomime for people who think they don’t like pantomimes". I think that this just reinforces my view that I wouldn't like pantomime.)

Also, Texas Embassy has closed down. Sad face.
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♥Jun. 28th, 2012 // 02:40 pm
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Today, we had a visit from the saddler.

GB had been a bit unhappy with his saddle for a while now, somewhat compensated for by putting a big foam pad under it, but it took a while for me and the saddler to synchronise our diaries.

The saddler was very confused: GB hadn't changed shape particularly since the last visit (when I was surprised that the saddle got the all clear, as it had been bashed around rather at the riding school), so it should have all been fine, but it obviously wasn't. After a bit of delving around inside, he concluded that my air bags had leaked....

(Saddles used to be stuffed, to shape them to the horse's back and provide padding, but some of the newer ones, including mine, have replaced that with airbags, which have the advantage of moulding themselves to the horse better.)

Whilst it would be possible to replace them, it would cost more than the saddle is worth, and nearly half the cost of the latest model of that saddle (which I like anyway), so. Still, as I said, it wasn't terribly unexpected. And the new saddle is lovely and squishy and well padded, so we should both enjoy it. (And the airbags have a five year guarantee on them!)

I've been very crap at updating, lately. Here are some things I have done recently:
- been to a lovely wedding reception, and seen lots of people I hadn't seen in a decade, which was both nice and nerve-wracking;
- done a dressage competition in the side saddle. Didn't win anything, but my scores were pretty consistent: sixes and fives, with a couple of sevens, in Intro B (59.56%), and fives and sixes, with one four, in Prelim 7 (54%). The arena for the latter had an enormous, tiger-filled pile of bits of jumps next to it, which GB naturally had to a) keep an eye on and b) keep as far as possible away from as possible, so this wasn't that surprising. The arena for the former had a cross country fence near one end, but other than giving it a stern look and having a little buck to make the point that he wasn't doing cross country in the side saddle it was safely ignored. Pics/pics, all terribly small so that I can't tell if there's one where I'm not pulling a silly face / don't have my eyes closed, which I might actually want to buy. Someone forgot his camera;
- been to see Democracy, at the Old Vic, which was very interesting if rather long and, in places, slightly wobbilily acted;
- been to a lovely sunny-day party-in-a-garden, at which I got to catch up with various people I don't see often enough;
- been for a ludicrous long (Mike came and collected me from the pub on his way home from work, and ended up having dinner with us) and fancy lunch at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon for Erik's birthday, which featured lovely food but slightly bizarre service: they weren't all that busy, but they kept throwing the food at us, with about two minutes between courses. Then, when they offered coffee and I said "could we have five minutes?" they went away and ignored us for twenty minutes. Most odd. Just to balance the scales, we had pudding (spag bol, because you have to really) at Cafe Ciao, which Erik had never heard of.

Tonight, we're off to see One Man Two Guvnors. Phew.

Here are some pictures that someone else took at the Big Show, later in the day when my hat had melted and my horse become a ravening beast due to cold and boredom. I love the way that it's raining so heavily that it looks like it's snowing....
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Things I have done

♥Mar. 11th, 2012 // 08:59 am
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We went to see My Life Story last weekend, in the end. It was, as ever, a cracking gig, but after half an hour of hanging around and being moved from one sanitised part of the venue to another, we gave up on staying for the after-gig-gig and came home. Still, worth going. I just wish the Astoria was still going!

I finally got something to do at work. This made work better. I am now no longer on the verge of walking out, instead I'm just quietly waiting for it to go belly up.

My friend Toni brought her horses to the same yard as me. This is generally good, as it's nice having her there, but I fear it may get a little wearing having her mum there all the time. On the very much plus side, Mike likes riding one of them very much, and did so today: I suspect he'll be riding her a lot, which is good for him.

I, on the other hand, have been riding GB, as ever. I had a good but hard work lesson, I took him out for a nice ride in the woods (in which we slightly-illegally scooted out of the woods and into some land owned by a farmer; GB immediately perked up and started strolling along at a cracking pace. He is much happier out in the open than in the woods, bless him. I need to figure out other open places I can take him), and I got the side saddle out for a ride (hadn't been on it in weeks, and I have a lesson with it next week! Bum hurts, now, worryingly only on one side, so I must have been wonky), and today we had a good session in the arena, with -- as he obviously was dying to have a go - a couple of little jumps at the end.

On Thursday, I did pilates (still enjoying it; much better now I'm in the right class!), rode, and then we went to see Comedy Of Errors at the National: very good performance, with the slight niggle that the guy playing the Duke, who was obviously trying to be Gene Hunt, didn't manage to pull it off.

On Friday, I was walking out on the way to an early dinner with Erik when - horrors! - I saw a girl throwing stones into the dock. As I got closer, I saw that she was throwing them at the swans! As I got closer still I saw that she was throwing them at the just-starting-to-breed pair, who'd managed to pen a year-old cygnet behind one of the emergency escape ladders at the side of the dock, where it had wedged its wing between two of the rungs and thus made itself a very easy target for being beaten up. A couple of quick phone calls, and the swan rescue van was on its way, with me and the girl under instructions to try and keep the adults clear and try and stop the cygnet from pulling itself free. We managed the first but sadly not the second, and of course as soon as it was free again the adults decided it was back to being a threat and started after it again. My long scarf made quite a good swan repellent, as did a small group of schoolgirls who stopped to watch the drama. Eventually, after being stuck behind a broken-down car in the tunnel, the swan man drove up and came out of his van with a telescoping pole with a U-shaped hook on the end, which he got around the cygnet's neck (it was cowering under the bridge, shivering, by this point) and used to lift it straight out of the water by the head, much to my surprise. He got it sitting down, told us to hold its wings against its body, and dashed off to get a duffel bag, into which he strapped the rather bemused cygnet before carrying it off, with its head poking out of the top of the bag, to taking it to the sanctuary. I really should have taken pictures. (On the plus side: it does look like we might get cygnets of our own this year, for the first time in a while!)

So, I was rather late for dinner, but I did have the best excuse ever, followed by very tasty food (other than the pudding: we went for tapas, and I quite fancied a Creme Catalan for pudding, but it was utterly over blow-torched and was completely liquid when it arrived. I sent it back and was informed that the chef said it was supposed to be like that: er, no) .

On Saturday, we ate even more tasty food, and saw a traveller from afar, in Reading, and then today we went to the yard, decided we couldn't really be bothered to trek out to Hammersmith for the Douglas Adams thing, and went to Bluewater instead (shopping list: new riding bras, shoes for wedding, wool, new Soda Stream gas thing. Items bought: wool, Soda Stream thing, baking trays, trousers, on-sale thermal tops, an entire new set of cutlery. Oops. Does anyone want some cutlery? Knives, spoons and forks, twelve of each except there are only eight forks and the range is discontinued, which is why we needed a new set....). After Bluewater, we had a little drive around Kent looking at possible places to live (I've decided that I don't want to move GB again, so if we move while he's still around then it will have to be somewhere out that way. As Mike points out, this means that our choice of place to retire to is being fixed by my refusal to drive through the Rotherhithe Tunnel...); there are some nice little towns out there, though, and it's good for the M25, and there's topography, so....
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