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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Abuse of power: the fight for Ashya King

Some days ago, a story appeared in my Facebook feed from the Lincolnite, for a "missing" child, last seen with his parents, and possibly heading for Lincoln.  I commented on the stream, asking in what sense he ws missing, if he was with his parents?  There was no detail in the story to indicate that the parents were abusive or that he was in any danger.  The other people commenting on the stream treated my question as though I was an idiot - of COURSE the child must be at risk of harm if the police were chasing after him - but having been aware of a number of similar cases among the home education fraternity, where the social services had assessed children as being "at risk" without the slightest evidence that this was so, I am sceptical of witch hunts like this one without firm evidence.

I was less sceptical when the reports of the kidnapping of another child started to be run on the BBC, because it seemed from the reports that the child, suffering from a brain tumour, had been endangered by the parents, not having enough battery to continue the feeding that the child needed, and taking him out of the country to an unknown destination, but I retained my feeling that most loving parents will want what's best for their child, and so they must have had a very good reason for this action.

Once the facts of the case began to emerge, I was horrified that the authorities had issued such senstional news reports without any justification whatsoever.  The father went on youtube to explain that there was no danger to his son: the family had made very careful preparations for the journey, the feedling system could be plugged into the mains, use a battery (and they had a spare) and they could also do the feeding manually using a syringe if necessary.

It became clear from the information released by the family that they had disagreed with the doctor treating their son, and wanted to be able to have a treatment for his brain tumour known as proton B.  When he refused, saying that it wasn't appropriate to his case, AND refused to allow them to seek a second opinion, the family did what actually few enough of us would actually do, and decided to sell their assets and find the treatment elsewhere.  Proton B, as far as I understand it is a better targetted use of radiation for tumours that avoids as far as possible the damage which can be inflicted by standard radiation treatment.  In terms of a brain tumour, that may be significant.

In any case, the child was not in the danger which the hospital had stated, the parents had committed no crime by removing their child from the hospital and leaving the country, and surely their right to take decisions for their family must be respected - mustn't they?  Well it seems not.  The authorities saw fit to issue a European arrest warrant for the parents, which is normally only used when a person has been charged with a criminal offence, and the parents were arrested in Malaga, Spain.

The reason they were in Malaga was to sell family property, in order to obtain the £100,000 they needed for the proton B treatment for their son.  These were the neglectful parents pursued with the full force (and enormous cost) of the Hampshire constabulary, because a child was at risk of harm.  Although to date no evidence that I can see of the harm has been produced by the authorities, they took the further step of proceedings to make Ashya a ward of court, and continued with proceedings against the parents despite the fact that by this time a groundswell of opinion was that the hospital had overstated the risks to the child (which they admitted, yesterday, during news reports) and the only crime the parents had committed was to want the best for the child.

A "Fight for Ashya King" Facebook group has been set up for the family to support the child, which had 5000 members yesterday and 10,000 today.  A Change.Org petition had been set up, which had 30,000 signatures yesterday and has nearly 100,000 today.  A number of funds have been set up for the family because many people wanted to be able to donate towars the child's treatment, and although the paypal donations have been frozen by paypal, £12,000 has been donated on the Indiegogo fundraiser, which hopefully will help meet some of the costs that the parents are incurring, fighting in court.

For that is what the parents are having to do.  Detained under arrest by police in Malaga, they have had one appearance in court during which they declined to be returned to the UK, and are due for another today.  The judge in Malaga has to decide if there is a case to answer, but unbelievably, the Hampshire constabulary and her majesty's government don't appear to have decided to drop the case in the face of the evidence that they overreacted and sent the hounds after perfectly innocent parents who were trying to do the best for their son.

Unbelievably, although a number of news reports, including one from the Guardian, have started to quote members of the government in support of the parents, the news reports on BBC radio are still reporting as though the parents are guilty of neglect or abuse in a negative way.  Their famed balance and neutrality over issues like this seems to be absent.

It is obvious that questions are going to have to be asked of the doctors, hospital, police and authorities once the dust has settled, because if the parents were not guilty of putting their child at risk - and it seems likely that they were not - then this exercise in opporessing their rights has cost us a lot of money.  We should not be intervening in the rights of a family to choose what they consider to be the best treatment for their child.  Having had a child with a chronic illness, I know how easily a medical expert can pronounce authoratitively on a case, notwithstanding the fact that an equally qualified expert gave the opposite opinion - in the end the parents have to decide whether the hospital is offering the best option for their child, and if not, find that option elsewhere.  Which is all they did.

I hope that questions are asked about this family's treatment.  They aren't the only family struggling with injustice but they have garnered a lot of support and publicity because it is so evident that an injustice has occurred.  I hope the Biritsh government can admit its mistake and free them today, because the idea of a little boy, terminally ill in hospital, without the parents who love him, is breaking our hearts.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: why you SHOULD care and DO something about it!

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement (TTIP) is being negotiated behind closed doors at the EU, and on the surface it seems to be common sense:  an agreement that allows standardisation of requirements between the EU and the USA, and which sets down some of the arrangements to do that.  Under the surface, though, is a whole lot more stuff which could remove a large part of our government's ability to impose environmental, employment and safety laws in our own country and for our own people.  And THAT's why we have to stop it becoming a reality.

It isn't that it might not have any advantages for the UK or EU as a trade agreement - but the potential cost in loss of our democratic right to control our laws and make legislation would be undermined fatally if it goes ahead. 

The current government seem to believe that if they promise "more jobs" and "more money" and a "booming economy" we will be prepared to allow any sacrifice to our way of life, our welfare state and our local laws and safety regulations - but they're wrong about that as far as I am concerned, and I hope they're wrong about it for a lot of people.  But we have to mobilise the people of this country who are worn down by the fact that they can't find anyone worth voting for, and have given up on expressing a preference - and make sure they get the facts and figures and make their voices heard before this agreement becomes a fact.

You can read George Monbiot's article for the Guardian about TTIP.  As you will see, Ken Clarke has published a riposte to the article claiming that it's an overreaction.  He actually says in the body of his article:   "This is not about reducing safety levels. It is simply common sense. Would any of us on holiday in the US decline to hire that all-American SUV, or say no to that unfeasibly enormous vat of fizzy pop on the grounds that the regulations "are not the same as the EU's"?"  Well actually Ken... the fizzy pop in the USA contains a whole lot of high-fructose corn syrup, which has been associated with a lot of poor health in the US and is not allowed to be used in the EU - and that might change if this agreement goes ahead.  And yes, I care about that, the possibility that foodstuffs will include unlabelled GM, and the fact that many things which are banned in the EU are allowed in the US, possibly because they are subject to the same sort of crazy agreements.

The damaging part of the trade agreement comes because our governments and the EU can be sued in secret offshore courts, and made to compensate companies for making them follow our laws on minimum wage or cleaning up the environment.  

As George Monbiot says: "During its financial crisis, and in response to public anger over rocketing charges, Argentina imposed a freeze on people's energy and water bills (does this sound familiar?). It was sued by the international utility companies whose vast bills had prompted the government to act. For this and other such crimes, it has been forced to pay out over a billion dollars in compensation."  If we sign this agreement, we may be affected in the same way.

The trouble is, politicians think we're stupid.  If they harp on about the positive aspects of the trade agreement, and wave money in front of our faces, we won't look behind the curtain and see the possible effects of the agreement in the future.  Which might include the government being made to compensate the corporations if their companies are disadvantaged by an increase in minimum wage or a change to environmental safeguards.  We already have dozens of rich American companies refusing to pay tax - now we'll have them demanding compensation on top.

As for the much wider concern that they might be able to prevent us from reversing the privatisation of the NHS... don't get me started.  War on Want have published a comprehensive PDF about the possible outcomes from the TTIP.

There's a day of action tomorrow, as the supporters from 38 degrees will be leafletting and telling people about the possible consequences of the TTIP.  You can find details here and sign up to help at your local protest or with posting leaflets through people's doors.

Sign the 38 degrees petition here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/vince-cable-fix-ttip#petition





TV review: Extant


Full Moon over Puget Sound by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

I was about nine years old when man landed on the moon in 1967, but I wasn’t very much impressed.  As I had been watching Dr Who for about four years by then, I had assumed that Man was able to go to far more distant destinations already.  My idea of what was possible was governed by the programmes I had watched.

How much more difficult must it be to sort the real from the unreal for today’s children, brought up with pixel-perfect special effects and an array of science fiction worlds to inhabit.  Currently I have been watching CBS’s Extant with interest, as it seems to me to have mastered the art of placing the action in the future, with improved gadgets and slight changes to the way things work, but with jumps that aren’t too far to imagine.

Currently, there is room for the plot to move in different directions, and it isn’t clear whether the greatest threat to mankind has arrived via an alien impregnation of a solo astronaut, or via an innovative lifelike robot who has been given the gift of life by a scientist who believes that he can create a simulacrum of a human, without any of the traditional limits on robot behaviour.

It is clear that the future world is already wary of the robots, and it is hinted that there has already been trouble caused by a previous generation of robots at some time in the past.

I find it believable and its production values seem to be high, although I fear that CBS, being driven only by immediate viewing figures, may cancel the show.  The USA doesn’t seem to allow shows to build an audience, pulling them without a chance to find their feet.  This show has some pretty complex ideas embedded within it, and needs attention and intelligence to be understood properly  and to keep track of the constantly shifting line between good and evil which arises. 

In the show, the household seems to have a computer presence which only makes itself evident when there are incoming phone calls or communication of some sort.  You don’t hear the people making an impromptu shopping list, but maybe the house monitors the number of loo rolls or availability of fresh milk automatically.  It’s not too much of a leap to imagine a future where every room is connected, as “OK, Google” is already available on an android phone near you, and the worlds first household robot communications hub is attracting crowdfunding on Indiegogo.

I’m assuming that the writers are committing anachronistic mistakes which will only be obvious at some stage in the future.  Maybe the sort of mobile telephone you have to hold in the hand, thin and beautiful as the futuristic designs may be, will be entirely unnecessary once we all have wearable computers on our wrists, able to conjure holographic keyboards and screens seen only by us.

Cars that drive themselves, GPS systems to track individuals and their vehicles, screens embedded into walls are not too much of a leap, while the very lifelike and realistic robot boy is a long way forward of our current technology.  It’s hard to review the plot without putting in too many spoilers, and I don’t want to do that while the show is still in its first series and needs to attract viewers.  Some of the American press seem to think a review should be a recap of the plot of the episodes, and even more annoyingly, think they can watch two episodes in the middle of a series and understand what is going on.  Fortunately, apart from a quick recap at the beginning of the episode, Extant doesn't go in for the irritating American habit of recapping every five minutes in case one of the audience has drifted off to make a cup of tea, and might return, confused about what has happened since they last looked at the screen (which has begun to infect many of the UK's factual series).  However, the future land where it is possible for a company to constantly monitor an employee’s whereabouts, coupled with robots without the prime directive never to harm a human, expected to understand and live by some sort of acquired morality, is scary.

We seem not to have had the big ethical discussion about the use of drones in warfare, something one character speaks about passionately, having been injured in a drone attack.  It seems quite incredible to me that any medical research to be perpetrated on the public must go through ethical committees and scrutiny before it can be allowed, and yet the changes to the way that warfare is run, including the use of unmanned drone flights which allow people to inflict death and destruction on people many miles away, has been introduced without any formal public ethical debate.  The speech may well make people think.

I’m enjoying the fantasy element, enjoy watching Halle Berry and Goran Visnjic and the little boy who plays a spookily realistic robot, Pierce Gagnon.  I’m apprehensive that most of the themes which are evident in the first few weeks will never have time to blossom if the current viewing figures dictate the future viability of the series.

In the UK, the series is available on Amazon Prime, as part of the membership, and that is how I have been watching it.  Unfortunately, in the last couple of weeks double episodes have been released, never a good sign for a tv series, which may indicate it is about to be cancelled.  Which would be a great shame, as I think the series has a lot of potential, and maybe the audience needs time to build.  I can think of a lot of classic tv series which would have folded at the end of the first series, if the current obsession about viewing figures had been the main directive.  Sometime people need time.

Incidentally, even among the sci-fi-loving young people of my acquaintance who have Amazon Prime, and therefore are able to watch Extant for free, it is little known.  Maybe some of the shiny trailers and polished publicity should be a bit better distributed, to attract the viewing figures which will give it future life.

Friday, August 01, 2014

School of hard knocks

My niece and I had a long conversation today, which is unusual in itself.  She asked me some questions about my reasons for home educating, and told me about a TED talk she had seen by a boy who is home educated, which she said made her cry. 

The talk is a good one, and astonishing for a 13 year old boy to have done.  He is so assured and well-paced, making jokes and letting the audience have space to catch up, and laugh.  If I had to sum up his talk, it is that we don't teach children how to be happy and healthy, indeed, don't recognize those as good aims for people in general, and the education he is hacking for himself is allowing him to be both of those things.

He's fairly low-key in his criticism of schooling, preferring to concentrate on the advantages of his approach rather than the faults of the system, but I'd go a lot further in my criticism of the school system.  He talks about the possibility that children in school may not be happy now, if bullied, or lost in the school system, or wanting to do things they aren't allowed to do.

If you believe that the greatest work any of us have to do is to work out how to be the best version possible of ourselves to the best of our ability, school is a big handicap.  Spending years believing that you hate poetry or maths or Shakespeare and accepting that as part of Who You Are, it can come as a shock to find that actually you find Shakespeare funny or love some poetry or can work mathematical things out if motivated to solve a real-life problem.

There are a number of ways that I feel schooling undermines our ability to be ourselves, and the ability to tell whether we actually hate something or only hate being made to do it, is one.  Not being given the opportunity to make choices about what we learn and when, leads to a lot of boredom and a lot of wasted opportunities, is another. 

The imposition of a lot of what home educators call "busy work" is also a problem for me.  Children are expected to repeat what they have learned endlessly because so much of what we think we know about learning is derived from the work of Ebbinghaus.  His work is still taught in teacher training colleges because it is thought of as the pure understanding of how we learn, but as Frank Smith points out in his wonderful Book of Learning and Forgetting, this only applies to things we have no existing knowledge about and which don't make sense to us.

Ebbinghaus conducted experiments testing adults with their ability to learn a set of facts and figures, and was frustrated by the fact that his results differed according to how much information a person already knew about a subject, and how interested they were in it.  He then locked himself away for a few years to come up with hundreds of meaningless syllables, which could not possibly be known already as they didn't mean anything in any language.

His tests, therefore, were to see how many of these meaningless things an adult could learn before they began to forget the first ones they had committed to memory.  His conclusion was that the average was ten, which is the reason so many things come in sets of ten questions or lists of ten things to remember.

Of course, you have to realize that ten incomprehensible syllables are rather different from ten things that add to knowledge you already have on a subject which interests you.  Some children demonstrate their ability to learn hundreds of facts about Pokemon or football clubs, or anything that interests them, without the slightest risk of forgetting any of it.

I came across these ideas in Frank Smith's wonderful Book of Learning and Forgetting, which had a profound effect on me, although the feeling I had was of someone articulating my thoughts and elegantly arranging them into a book. 

When I withdrew my children from school and had to come up with my own philosophy of education for the local education authority, it was a complete revelation to find how much of my opinion and thinking about education was built on assumptions I had learned at school - on my schooling and not on my intelligence, education or actual opinion.  Once I was forced to confront what aim I wanted to have for my education of my children, I realized that more than anything else, I wanted them to be happy and to know who they really were.  And the curriculum for that is very different from one which aims to force all children into further education, with as many paper qualifications as possible.

School isn't fit for purpose any more.  It remains a Victorian institution, where learning how to conform and be quiet and compliant is more important than any learning, and where your personal inclinations for particular types of study are meaningless to the system.  This last I find very difficult to understand - life is not divided into subjects like maths and English and physics and biology.  Generally, our activities tend to involve a complex mixture of subjects, so that even a relatively simple task like making biscuits might involve maths, English, chemistry, history... giving children real tasks, and letting them take the learning where they want to go, is far more efficient, far more enjoyable, and far happier, than having them sat in rows with busy work until the bell goes.

We have the best resources for education of any generation in the history of earth, and yet we are still making the same mistakes that the Victorians were making 140 years ago.  The tragedy of the education industry is that it actually diminishes a child's potential for learning and curiosity, and hasn't raised the literacy and numeracy rates at all.  Living in an information age, we ought to be finding out if alternatives work better than our current methods. but actually diverity of provision has become more and more scarce, as the government has taken more and more interest in what is taught and when in our schools.

Home education and home educators provide the best possible range of alternative approaches to schooling, from those who run a school-at-home set up complete with timetables and curricula, to the unschooling crowd who may never suggest any academic work, ever.  It is a mystery to me why governments show no interest at all in learning what they can from them, and applying that to schools.  As for adults, some children will be happy sitting and reading or studying a subject that interests them.  Others will be far happier outside playing.  The current school model seems to assume one is good, the other a waste of time... but my contention is that both are potentially a waste of time or the most important work that can be done, depending upon who is doing it, and why.

That's the thing that school doesn't allow.  And won't I guess, until they realise that forcing an unwilling participant to do something they aren't ready or willing to do, may be doing more damage than we can know.  It is no coincidence that the level of mental health problems, number of youth suicides, and number of prescriptions for drugs have risen and risen in the teenage population. 

Understanding fate and free will

One of the advantages of being a Quaker, in my opinion, is that you are exhorted to look for new light, wherever you may find it.  I've always had an open mind, but what I have learned over the past twenty years of seeking for answers about the big mysteries of life, is that sometimes someone can be very wrong about some things, but hardly anyone is wrong about everything.

Over the last ten years, there has been a distinct convergence between the wackier outliers of esoteric thinking and mainstream science, particularly quantum physics, with physicists postulating that there may be an infinite number of parallel universes.  Bashar, who claims to be a channelled being from our future, teaches that we can navigate our way through this by choosing the path to the life we prefer, which I find an interesting idea.  He says that we have free will to choose our path, while also teaching that people have a purpose which aligns with their highest excitement.

It's always been hard to align the idea of fate or predestiny with the idea of free will, because they seem to be mutually exclusive.  If precognition is a thing (as experiments appear to show, and I think it is) then doesn't that mean that the future is fixed, immutable, and the idea of free will is redundant?

Bashar teaches that the divergence of worlds into many parallel universes means that the probable future at any given time becomes more and more probable as it becomes closer.  He says that ideas of precognition are only possible probable futures, but not fixed because we always have a choice to change it.

This morning it struck me that the best analogy for this idea is a game of patience.  The cards have been dealt a certain way, and they make certain moves more or less likely.  As you proceed through the game, you may open up or close down the future choices, making certain moves impossible or very likely - but not fixed.

I find it hard to get my head around the idea of parallel universes.  People have postulated that every time one take a decision another universe goes off in the direction you didn't choose, while your consciousness follows the path you have chosen.  Does this mean another Fee in another universe is not writing a blog post this morning, but cooking herself tomato and scrambled egg?

Whatever the truth may be, I enjoy seeking new light in the weirdest of places.  Enlightenment comes from within, not from without, but information and knowledge can be waypointers to an expanding consciousness that our physical world and what we can see is not all that there is.  I strongly believe we are eternal, and are spirits having a human experience and not the other way around. All is one, we are profoundly connected, and seeking after truth is part of my highest excitement.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Loud and clear

With my Dad, some years ago....
I've come to St Albans to give my sainted mother a couple of days respite looking after my father.  She's been loking after him since he was released from hospital, despite having divorced him forty years ago.  He's much better physically, but his short-term memory is completely shot and he is forgetting how to do some things he was previously handling himself like emptying his catheter.

My sister Amanda took the first couple of days.  Yesterday she left him his lunch and wenty off back home, and I arrived a couple of hours later.  My father seemed happy but surprised to see me at 2pm, and continued to be happy but surprised every time I came into the room.  If I asked him if he wanted anything he invariably demanded a cup of coffee, which meant that he'd had about six by 7pm.

He has a supra-pubic catheter, and therefore has to have a night bag attached before he goes to bed.  I've never done this before, as he was previously handling that sort of detail himself, and so I was a little anxious about it, but I managed OK and got him to bed without incident about 11pm.

Fortunately, knowing that he's an early riser I went to bed about an hour after him, and managed to sleep pretty well.  I fell asleep to the sound of his snoring and woke to the sound of a medley of musical favourites.  I shot out of bed, and hastened to his side with bowls for the changeover to day mode, and successfully detached night bag without incident.  (My mother found him dragging his night bag around a couple of mornings, with messy consequences.)

I was still celebrating this achievement when I saw the time.  5.06am!  He's refused to dress or wash and is now watching News24 at 90 decibels in the living room.  When he saw me, he was happy but surprised.  And demanded a cup of coffee.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tyger Drew-Honey on Porn

Having heard Tyger Drew-Honey (the oldest Outnumbered kid) interviewed on Radio 4 a few days ago about his new venture into documentary making, I had high expecttions for his take on Porn.  I'd learned that his father had been one of the major actors in British porn, before the internet put them all out of business.  Ben Dover, with his enormous genitals, featured heavily in the documentary and I think it was the reliance on people Tyger knew and the focus on himself, which made the documentary so disappointing.  A bit less Tyger and a bit more curiosity would have enhanced the result.

It was interesting, however, to see someone so comfortable with the idea of porn, masturbation and sex and also British, doing a bit of navel gazing in the face of the faint possibility that porn may not be entirely beneficial.  With slapstick moments, most of which didn't work, and initially gave a false impression of the documentary... although one or two raised a laugh in the Berry household.

Starting from the premise that the participants in porn were people exercising an informed choice, and in the form of one surgically enhanced actress, positively enjoying the filming of actual sex for the cameras, there was very little examination or even mention of the fact that among the porn on offer might be women exploited or coerced into participating.  It only arose during one dramatic interview with a woman who found the use of porn by an ex very disturbing as he used more and more extreme rape porn, some of which she suspected did not involve acting.

Although there was much discussion about the contrast between real sex and porn sex, there was very little examination of the difference that context may make to a real relationship.  Those who talk about love and commitment in any discussion about porn are assumed to be religious killjoys who disapprove of anyone enjoying sex outside marriage.  However, anyone who has had meaningless sex outside a relationship and sex within a committed relationship can tell you that context makes one hell of a difference to the quality and impact of a sexual encounter, and it is this which is missing in porn.

Some years ago when I read Nancy Friday's books on male and female fantasies, I realised that there was a general pattern to what she was being told:  while women had actual fantasies which were based upon their imagination, men often based their favourite fantasy on their first sexual experience.  In the course of my life I have also found it to be true that men have fixated upon their first sexual experience for both their ideal sexual encounter and their fetishes and fantasies.  This makes the rise of the young teenage porn user a worry for the future.  Not only is there a danger that they will make assumptions about the acceptability of the things they see on screen to a real life woman, but also the danger that they will be trained to prefer solitary sex in front of a laptop to actual sex with a woman.

There was some jokey research into the idea that people who are addicted to porn may be desensitized to it, and need more and more to be able to be excited - again in the absence of any thrill from real live people being involved... and some vox pop into the possibility that men have become more demanding about the range and type of sexual encounter they regard as normal, having been brought up with porn for information and suggested activities.

In the end, Tyger seemed to be reflecting on the idea that porn had informed his sex life in ways he hadn't considered, and he seemed genuinely moved by the woman with the abusive partner.  However, I was disassatisfied with the amount of time spent on jokes and interviewing his own parents as filler for a documentary which could have been so much more interesting with a bit more depth.  I think he is a likeable presenter who needs far more direction and help with structured writing to get the best out of a documentary format, and make the result more than superficial entertainment

.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Glass safety

When we had the survey done on this house, the surveyor noted that he could not confirm that the glass installed in the back door and the inner back door was safety glass.  I noted the comment and thought I should really do something about it, but I didn't give it any attention really.

John fitted a draught excluder around the back door, which has helped a lot with the draughts but has led to the door becoming rather more difficult to shut.  Consequently the occupants of the house began to slam it to get it to shut, and thus it was that Ali put his hand through the glass in the door a few weeks ago.

We were very lucky.  He cut and shredded his little finger, but wasn't badly hurt - although he bled like a stuck pig and I had to rush home from the air ambulance to see to him.  He needed hospital attention and steristrips but it was a warning I took seriously and so I have ordered toughened safety glass for all the doors, including the garage doors.  I'm not taking more risks, having seen how viciously sharp non-safety glass can be.

My mother once advised me before I had children never to put off anything which was related to safety, never to think oooh that's dangerous and do nothing, or I'll pick that up in a minute or someone will trip and fall - do it now!  And it's been advice that I am sure has saved accidents on numerous occasions.  I wish I had kept it in mind with the glass.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back again

I've been away for a while, visiting my father in hospital, then having flu.  I'm back and picking up the threads again in Lincolnshire.

It's one long round of DIY and housework at the moment, and I have guests coming over Easter and want to make the house a good place to be and not full of boxes of miscellaneous stuff I have failed to find a home for.

The birds in the garden were very glad to see me - I filled the feeder in the garden and then watched as a flurry of sparrows and a couple of fat wood pigeons squabbled over the feeder and the seed that falls on the ground when several sparrows try to feed at once. 

The garden is full of bulbs - grape hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and the first primroses are out too.  There are daisies on the lawn, and the wild geranium is taking over in the vegetable plot.  There's lots to do, if we have a few fairweather days.

Ali put up my curtain rail in my bedroom and it then fell down immediately.  I'm going to Lincoln to buy a sturdier one, and to get a lampshade, and then I will hopefully be able to use my room for the first time since we moved.