Saturday, 28 March 2009


I'm going to have another crack at gardening this spring. Our back yard is split into two sections: the right half is ours and the left side is our neighbours. We have a small paved area and a little section of raised beds. I was only minimally successful growing in containers last year but I am determined to have another try.

Last weekend Helen, and later Pari, came over and gave me the kind of advice I needed to hear, "Just go for it. Rip out the things you don't want and plant something else." Helen and I got down on our knees and pulled up all the overgrown things that were crowding out our small back garden and we chopped back a couple of trees (or large shrubs?) that hang over into our garden. We bagged up all the garden waste and then planted a few potatoes that had been sprouting in the pantry.

Today I was out at the shops and found out that our local pound shop sells garden items! I started to pick out a few things and got chatting to a couple of nice ladies who were also perusing the items. One said, "I buy the flowers here every year and they always come up beautifully!" Another said, "Oh, dear, you must buy freesias, because they smell the best." So I started picking up loads of things, as you can see! I got some fruit bushes: redcurrant, gooseberry, tayberry, blueberry; and a shrub called escallonia, which has lovely red flowers on the box, and I bought freesia and iris bulbs as well as lily of the valley, columbine, stone crop (small pink flowers), and lupins.

Well! Hopefully some or even all of these will grow in my little patch of dirt and also in the containers. I still want to get lots of vegetables as well.... I'm not sure if I have space for all of this! But I figure some of it might die and some of it might grow.

Friday, 27 March 2009

tourist destination

I was in the tube station a week ago and did a double take when I saw familiar words in an unexpected place. It turns out that New Brunswick is advertising in the Underground! New Brunswick! I might imagine that BC or Alberta would advertise here, but, really, NB! It was lovely and surprising to see the shots of NB--who wouldn't want to go on a seven night break to Fredericton? :)

Note that Canadian Affair (the charter airline) is now advertising that it has government backed holiday protection. I suppose this is to counter your association with Canadian budget airlines and bankruptcy, as Ant and I experienced too well this past summer in the Zoom debacle.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


A new discovery in London! There is a Paperchase flagship store on Tottenham Court Road. When I found this out while I was in the city a few weeks ago I was enraptured with the idea. A massive, beautiful shop, all full of stationery! Pens, pencils, notebooks, dividers, organisers, office supplies of all kinds!... Ah, I was in love from the moment I walked in.

I was on the hunt for a notebook with squared paper inside and I found a huge array. I picked a black, soft cover notebook with 200 pages. I also bought some purple marking pens and wanted to buy so much more.

Upstairs there is a coffee shop and a furniture section! I loved these clocks, and think that one would be a great present. I know what to get for the next big event someone has.

It is my plan to visit the Paperchase flagship store every time I am in the area from now on... and buy a nice pen every time!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

highlights from Basel

Pari and I had the pleasure of travelling to Basel, Switzerland last weekend. It was so easy to get there and I was amazed by how wonderful a short trip like that could be. I was only there for one night but it was excellent to be away somewhere different. On Saturday we started off by walking around the old town, centred on the Munster, the cathedral built out of beautiful red blocks of local stone. We climbed up right to the top of the bell towers and looked out over the city and the Rhone river.

The church was set out with hundreds of these lovely wooden chairs, with many different patterns on their backs. I was amazed by the beautiful workmanship.

We walked all along the river, though the quaint streets. We visited the Tinguely museum--Jean Tinguely was a sculptor who made moving contraptions, like this fountain outside. All the bits were spinning, or sweeping up and down and water was spraying in every direction. There is also a Tinguely fountain in the centre of town.

Inside the museum this was my favourite piece. When you pressed the button on the floor it animated, with all the different bits playing an instrument--gongs, cymbals, a piano, and so on. It was noisy and celbratory.

On Sunday we were walking around the old town again and suddenly this marching band appeared. We followed them around for a while and found that another band sprung up from a side street.

Over the next several hours, marching bands were walking around everywhere. They were all playing different songs, going up and down in all directions, sometimes several were passing us at once. It was all part of the winding down of the city festival earlier in March.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Canterbury--part two

Pari and I visited Canterbury Cathedral--it's the real reason to travel to Canterbury. And stunning it was too. There was a university choir and orchestra practising when we arrived and that made it even better. They were singing Hayden's Mass in Time of War, although I couldn't make out any of the words.

St Augustine's Abbey was my other main attraction. These tiles are an amazing example of the workmanship that was put into it over hundreds of years and many stages in its life. It is now ruined and what's left of it is a UNESCO world heritage site (along with the Cathedral and one other church).

I thought you might also be amused by this road sign. I'm sure St Augustine is thrilled to be have so many things named after him: an Abbey, an area, and a roundabout!

Sunday, 8 March 2009


Pari and I spent the weekend away in Canterbury. It was fantastic!

I am rushing around now to get sorted for work tomorrow so I shall just post two pictures and say more later. The top one shows St Augustine's Abbey and the bottom shows Pari outside the town walls. We walked lots, ate lovely food, and saw the Cathedral and the Abbey and the Roman museum. It was a very relaxing weekend.

Now Ant is back from Switzerland and I am focused on work again. Another busy week begins.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

overworked, but content

I had so much marking over the half term break that I had to bring it home from work in two installments. The suitcase was the only way I could get the second half back to work; I couldn't actually lift all the marking I had done! I found it quite funny to return home on the train with my empty suitcase in the evening.

But on a positive note, I have some projects coming up that I am very excited about. I am hoping to do some research about maths A level participation at the school and I'm also taking part in a working research group about trigonometry. So although I am busy, I am enjoying things at work. I wish there was less administration (Matt says I need an adminion) and I could do with less marking. But I am learning and trying new things, which I love.