ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-08-17 04:11 pm

Labyrinths

Pellinor expressed the intention of "popping out" to IKEA at lunchtime. I have today off work, but had to reluctantly decide to cancel my planned walk, since the back problem that made me cancel Walk the Wight in May has been recurring over the last few weeks - nowhere near as bad as in May, but I have a very strong need to ensure that it gets no worse over the next 10 days or so. "I've never been to IKEA," I said, "and I'm curious about it. I'll go over to Southampton and join you!"

Getting to IKEA was a challenge in itself, since I decided to wander through the newly expanded Westquay shopping centre, which led to a long and frustrating journey of dead ends, accidental carparks, more dead ends, stairs that said that they wouldn't take me to my destination (but which I suspect did) and lifts that claimed that they would (but didn't bother to come.)

WHAT IS THE POINT OF REVOLVING DOORS?

Once in IKEA, I soon found myself swallowed up in an endless network of mini living rooms, none of which offered a way out. After a while, I noticed arrows on the floor, and followed them. Soon I reached a world of kitchens, and then a metropolis of dining rooms. I continued to follow the arrows... only to find myself back at the kitchens.

Pellinor had promised me a cornucopia of bowls. Nowhere had I seen any bowls, so clearly I had missed out of at least part of the shop. I had also seen no wildling cloaks or plates of meatballs, both of which I knew should be in there somewhere. Why were the arrows betraying me?

Eventually I managed to locate the living rooms again, and from there the entrance again, where I was due to meet Pellinor. There I joined the Lobby Of Parked Menfolk, where I loitered, the only women there. Pellinor appeared. Pellinor clearly has more points in Spot (or is it Search?) than I have, since he boldly led me along a route that had hidden itself from me and towards the restaurant, which I'd never found, and to the stairs. Yes, there was a whole other floor! This immense labyrinth that had consumed me was in fact only half the shop, and there was another lower level of the dungeon to explore. It had bowls in it. It also had many mysterious baskets full of Things - Things that had no label and no name; Things that caused us to say, "I don't know what it is, but I think that might possibly be useful. Unless it isn't."

Pellinor, needing to get back to work, went to pay for the trolley of heavy stuff and take it back to his car. I, with more time on my hands, continued to wander, until I decided I'd had enough. Ten minutes and many false turns later, I had located an arrow that directed me to the exit. Ten minutes after that, I had found the exit. I had also found Pellinor, who was still in a queue, and reported that he had moved about 6 inches since joining it countless ages before. Clearly merely "popping into" IKEA is not something that anyone can hope to do. Escaping it is something that deserves a medal. I wonder how many people go in but never come out.

What ARE their meatballs made of, I wonder?
ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-07-31 06:29 pm
Entry tags:

Books read in July

Fewer books than normal this month, due to being on holiday last week, during which I spent much of my reading time reading guidebooks and maps and obsessively checking the weather forecast.

Books read in July )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-07-21 01:20 pm

Inflation

Yesterday I was flicking through a favourite book of mine from my childhood: an A to Z guide to Welsh castles. The book kindly quotes entrance fees, specifying that these are the 1972 prices, allowing one to make interesting comparisons.

Take Harlech Castle, for example. 10p in 1972. And what is it now? £6.50.

What else can I find from 1972? I can't be bothered to scour through all my books searching for likely candidates, but I've found a Puffin Book published in 1971, priced at 25p. By that rate of inflation, children's paperbacks nowadays should cost around £16. (Modern day price: generally 5.99 and 6.99)

At Junior School, the crisps sold at the tuck shop were either 7p or 9p - I can't remember which. (These were spicy tomato flavour: those type of crisps that melt on the tongue. I can't remember the brand name.) If these went up at the same rate as castle admission, they would today be costing £7 or £9 per bag.

Also at Junior School, when I briefly flirted with collecting stamps, first class stamps costing 9p. If stamps were as Harlech Castle, it would be costing us £9 to send a swift letter.

Has anything (except perhaps for houses) gone up in price more since the 1970s than castle admission? Yes, I know I could probably Google this and find all sorts of tables, but it's much more fun to piece it together from dimly-held memories of What Stuff Used To Cost.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-07-01 05:10 pm
Entry tags:

Books read in June

After I finished my Thief series re-read, the month was dominated by Jasper Fforde, pausing only for some undone Victorians and an angry chef"

Books read in June )
ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-06-30 06:21 pm

Supermarket taxonomy

Some weeks ago, I was complaining here about the fact that three of my staple food products had been discontinued. One of these was M&S tomato and basil soup. Well, a few weeks ago, entirely by chance, I happened to notice some familiar-looking tins in a rack at knee-level underneath the fridges that contained various ready meals: more precisely, underneath the Gastropub range (which I initially wrote as Gastropud and then corrected to Gastropug.) I went back to the soup section to double-check, and there was still no tomato and basil soup there, not even a shelf label to denote where it should have been. This has continued to be the state of affairs in the weeks that have followed. Tomato and basil soup has not been discontinued, after all; it has merely been reclassified as Not Soup, as has sweet potato and butternut squash soup. Instead they are things whose natural home is QUITE OBVIOUSLY an inconspicuous rack underneath over-priced pre-prepared meals.

I am at a loss to understand the logic behind this. I can see the sense in putting SOME tins of soup near the ready meals, in the hope that people are prompted to buy an additional and unplanned starter, but why on earth would you house all but two of your soups together, while banishing all tins of two flavours to the other side of the shop? It's a bit like evicting Weetabix from the cereal aisle and housing it instead with toilet rolls, or banishing strawberry jam to the shoe section.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-06-16 05:57 pm

Maps!

I have a well-worn map rant. I will put it behind a cut, since it is so well-worn that everyone has probably heard it before.

Open Wardrobe of Outrage, take down Rant Hanger no. 5, take up well-worn rant )

Well, yesterday I bought an orange 1:25,000 map of the Winchester area... and discover that once you've bought a map, you can now get a free electronic download of the same map. This is excellent news! You see, the other problem with printed maps is the need to actually carry the printed map. Carrying it in your hand is inconvenient and awkward. I've got one of those plastic map holders that you dangle around your neck, but they're horrid and annoying and flap around, and the slightest breath of wind causes them to leap around like a demented terrier and try to strangle you with its lead. So if I'm walking on a path I more or less know, or a path I expect to be well signed, I leave my map in my rucksack, ready to consult it only when needed. But extricating both myself and the map from the rucksack is a hassle, so when Doubt begins to strike, I tend to put off the awful moment of actually checking the map, and carry on doggedly, hoping that everything will turn out well. This does not always end well.

But when walking, I carry my phone in a belt pouch, so it will be the easiest thing in the world to pull it out and check the map. This is excellent! I'll still carry the printed map in my rucksack just in case, and for when I want to quickly view a wide area, but I'll have an easily-accessible version, too. Now I can buy a new orange map of the island and have an up-to-date map on my phone, without needing to wrestle with any octopuses! I am quite ridiculously thrilled by this. :-D


By the way, I noticed that although 1:25,000 maps are now available for the whole country, only some of these maps have been designated an Outdoor Leisure map. Aren't you allowed to do outdoor leisurey things in an area that hasn't been designated thus? I notice that I'm allowed to do outdoor leisure anywhere on the south coast between Eastbourne and Weymouth. Most of Hampshire and West Sussex are joyous, leisure-filled places, but in Dorset, leisure only goes as far north as Dorchester. Somerset and Wiltshire are Right Out, and here I must be sober and industrious.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-06-02 06:16 pm

Disappearing products

I have never worked out what is more annoying: having a favourite food product vanish without trace from the shops, or seeing those dreaded words: "New, improved recipe."

But I do know what is far more annoying than either of these: having not one, not two, but THREE of your staple products disappear AT THE SAME TIME!

I have checked frequently over the last month, and have seen no trace of the following products:

- My joint-favourite soup. This is a Big Deal, since I eat a tin of soup every day for my lunch at work, and I used to alternate between my two favourites. By favourite, I mean that they have the perfect combination of lovely taste and low calories. Others are equally nice, but provide 100 extra calories. Others provide the same calories, but aren't as nice. I've found a couple more which are similar calories and ALMOST as nice, so all is not lost, but, still...

- My favourite frozen supermarket pizza. Or, to be more accurate, the ONLY frozen supermarket pizza that suits me perfectly. This is even worse than the soup, since I spent 10 minutes today scouring every since one in the shop, and nothing else fills me with any real excitement at all, or else are Too Big or Too Small to be shared between two people as the main component of their dinner.

- My favourite yogurts. The second half of my work lunch is yogurt, but I am VERY fussy. Most yogurts are too sweet for my taste, and only ones labelled as "organic" have proved to be sufficiently unsweet (or, rather, sufficiently lacking in hideous sweetener) for me to accept. This one is less disastrous, since I only discovered this particular 4-pack a few months ago, and other acceptable 4 packs exist, but still...

Yes, I know that these are pretty minor worries, as worries go, but still...

GRUMP!
ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-05-17 06:36 pm

Book grrs

1. The long-awaited new Megan Whalen Turner, out yesterday: "usually delivered within 1 to 2 months." WHAT?

2. My Kindle is refusing to charge, and I'm off on holiday on Friday, on a holiday that will probably present a lot of reading time, and I won't have space in my luggage for many books. Waaah!
ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-05-17 05:42 pm

Musings while accessioning books

How can a book be called "The untold story of..." something or other. You have written the book, Mr Author. It has been published and is sitting on my desk. The story is now told. When you first had the idea, you might have been entitled to call it an untold story, but once you'd finished writing it, the title was now a lie. Unless "telling," like communicating, is something that requires an attentive listener? If you recount a story in an empty forest, are you still telling it? I think you are, but I will be charitable to Mr Author and allow him to argue that his story remains untold even after he has typed the final full stop... but only as long as nobody has beta-read it, proof-read it, edited it, helped him with the index or listened to him expounding on the subject while gesticulating with a wine glass at dinner parties. Well, unless these people are only allowed to glimpse snippets of the completed book and are kept by force from even glimpsing the rest of it. But, even so, the minute it's published and somebody reads it, the title is now a LIE!

(Which reminds me of the award Pellinor recently received for being an unsung hero. I argue that the second he accepted said reward, he became sung, so was duty bound to hand it back. Whereupon, of course, he became unsung again, and the award-giver was bound to give it back to him, and so on and so on, for a never-ending eternal loop of politeness and pedantry. Although at least somebody would probably give in eventually and say, "Just take the damn thing!" so we wouldn't be stuck in a true never-ending loop like the case of the buttered toast strapped (butter side up) to the back of a falling cat, which, logically, can never, ever land. This is known.)

But, anyway, back to books, I always smile when I see "unnumbered pages" on the catalogue record, although it's always in the context of "24 unnumbered pages," or the like, which just seems wrong.

I might have mentioned this before, but books called things like "A practical guide to keeping chickens" always make me chuckle, since I invariably imagine the companion book, and sometimes spend a happy few minutes imagining chapter titles and diagrams and suggestions. Impractical chicken-keeping. Impractical bike maintenance. Impractical yachting. Sometimes I want to draw the pictures, which, for some reason, often end up involving balloons, and, occasionally, bananas.

"...of the world" books, on the other hand, always cause me to declaim them out loud, as a rallying cry, often adding "unite!" to the end. "Frogs of the world," unite! There's a section in Sainsbury's called "Breads of the world," where I always want to rally the ciabattas and pitta breads and urge them to throw off the chains of the Chorleywood overlords.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-05-13 10:48 am

Back

Very fed up today. I've had to miss Walk the Wight for the last 4 years, due to being away in various places, but was able to sign up this year. It's tomorrow, and I REALLY want to do it. But I've hurt my back. I don't know how I've hurt my back. If I knew, it would be less annoying. I've probably damaged a muscle somehow, but the pain came on gradually during Thursday while I was at my desk at work. My longest run yet was on Tuesday night, and I had no back problems after it, or on Wednesday. Although it hurt yesterday, I was more or less functional, but had to heave lots of boxes around in the afternoon. But it was a 4 bottle pack of lemonade in the supermarket that finished me off completely, and now I can't stand up, sit down, turn over or move without sharp stabs of pain. Unless I have a miraculous recovery, walking 27 miles tomorrow will not be happening. Even if I DO have a miraculous recovery, walking 27 miles tomorrow would be really unwise, since it would probably lead to a sudden reversal of said miraculous recovery.

So, as I said, very fed up. Grump! And, Ow.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
2017-05-11 06:20 pm

Running update

So we're still running, after finishing Couch to 5K in mid-March. We're keeping up with 3 runs a week. The only ones I've missed was when I was due to run on a day when I'd walked 35 miles of coastal path, on the grounds that I'd done more than enough exercise already, thank you very much.

I definitely find it a lot easier to do my runs in the evening, about two hours after dinner. I never seem to struggle at this time. When I've run during the day, I've always found it harder. There are some good reasons for this. The weekend runs have sometimes been after a late night the night before, and some have been in hot sunshine when thirst was an issue. Sometimes I've gone out after getting in from work, before dinner, but I think I just don't have enough calories inside me at that time of day to keep myself going. However, I'm also beginning to worry that I'm developing a bit of a mental block about non-evening running, and there's a risk that I'll find the runs hard merely because I expect to.

Then there's the issue of speed. At the moment, my comfortable pace seems to be about 6 mins per km. I can maintain this steadily for long periods without getting particularly out of breath. Increase this to 5 mins 45 seconds per km, and I really struggle. It seems crazy that such a tiny increase in speed should make such a big difference to my ability to cope with it. Although, granted, all these faster runs have taken place just before dinner, when, as mentioned above, I might be struggling for other reasons.

We did 10k on Tuesday, not entirely intentionally. I'd done 8.5km by myself when Pellinor was away the other weekend, so wanted to go to 9. Pellinor measures his runs in miles (I walk in miles but run in km) so when we reached 9k, he pointed out that he wasn't that far off 6 miles. So we kept going... whereupon I pointed out that we were now close enough to 10k that we might as well carry on until that. We did an hour and 30 seconds, with a pretty constant speed. So far, the best I've managed for 5k is just under 29 minutes.

I don't know what goal to work for now. Pellinor's faster than me, and much more interested in speed - specifically, speed while wearing armour. I'm not that fussed about speed, but would like to increase my distance. But I'm worried about possible hot weather, so I might have to keep things fairly steady over the summer, and add more distance next winter. We'll see.

I can't say I actively enjoy running, especially when I'm by myself. But the 10k on Tuesday was fun, since we were coping well enough to be able to chat, and we had loads of cat encounters to keep things interesting. But I enjoy seeing the improvement in my abilities, and I like feeling like "a runner." Perhaps my next goal should be to take part in a Park Run or something similar, and actually engage with other runners.
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
2017-05-02 09:51 am
Entry tags:

Too much walking, too little sleep

So, I did it. 71 miles in two days, with surprisingly little rain.

A very long ramble about rambling )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
2017-04-28 10:21 pm

Plans

Last year, when Pellinor was away during the late May Bank Holiday weekend, I walked the coastal path. Naturally, this one occurrence is enough to make this a thing. So this year, knowing that he would be away during this first May Bank Holiday weekend, I decided to walk the coastal path again. Because it's tradition now, isn't it? I always walk the Coastal Path when he's away for a Bank Holiday weekend. It is known. It's a little more challenging this year, since I have got to* fit it around getting up at 3.30 a.m. on Monday and tromping around on the Downs watching Morris dancing. Also, for various reasons (bus times, a later finishing time, less daylight than in late May), I don't think I'll be able to do what I did last year, and get a dozen miles under my belt after work on Saturday, so it must all be done on the Sunday and Monday. But I think that's doable.

The trouble is, the weather forecast is turning more and more rainy every time I look at it. The following conversations have ensued.

Everyone at work: Of course, if it's raining badly, you just won't do it.
Me: No, if it's raining badly, I'll just get wet.
Everyone at work: But WHY? It's not as if you HAVE to do it.
Me: YES I DO! *pause* Okay, no, no I don't, but... but...!
Everyone at work: But what?
Me: I've planned to do it! If I don't do it not, I'll feel all disgruntled and disappointed and grumpy with myself.
Everyone at work: Why?
Me: Because it was The Plan! So I'm doing it, whatever the weather. Because it's The Plan!

I don't think any of them understand. I should probably talk myself round to their way of thinking, but... but... it's The Plan!

* To be fair, there's no "got to" about this. It's not even my dance team that does the dancing. It's Pellinor team, and is he going? No, he's not. He's up in a field near Stoke on Trent smiting evil. I'm just going as a spectator, and an eager participant in the post-dancing cooked breakfast - good fuel for the 30+ miles that will lie ahead of me. But this, too, is The Plan. I've done it every year for at least 15 years, and will feel equally disgruntled and disappointed and grumpy if I miss it.

And, hey, if I get up at the crack of dawn and get soaking wet, I can feel all the more virtuous and deserving of post-walk chips. :-D
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
2017-04-22 08:19 pm

Running gear

I really should post more. I will attempt to make up for a silence of many weeks by posting trivia. So here goes...

I bought a hoodie today. Part of me feels that this should fill me with the urge to loiter suspiciously in the park looking disaffected and suspicious.

However, said hoodie was bought from M&S, so...


Not entirely unrelated to the above: never believe anyone who says that running is a free hobby that involves no specialist equipment. To date, I have bought: 1 pair of alarmingly-coloured running shoes that fit my rolling-in gait (£100), 1 fleece, 2 pairs of mid-calf-length leggings for running on hot days, 1 pair of jogging trousers for colder days, 1 hoodie, 2 confusing sports bras (£25 each), one pack of low-cut socks to go with the leggings (probably unnecessary, but I felt embarrassed about the happy smiley tigers on my ankles), 1 cheap top with wicking technology, just to see how it worked, 1 belt pouch to hold my phone (an excellent buy, since I use my phone to track my running, and it was very irritating in my pocket: I use this all the time for walking now, too) and one small water bottle to attach to said belt.

To be fair, the fleece has become my indispensible default extra layer to wear around the house, on walks, and pretty much everywhere, and the jogging trousers (which have an elasticated cuff around the ankle) are really useful for walking in, since they get much less muddy than my usual flappy trousers. Also, whereas I am in pain after walking just 2 or 3 miles in normal shoes, the £100 running shoes have given me absolutely no pain at all while running almost twice as far, so were a Good Buy. But, still, that must surely come to over £250 by now. And I've only been doing this for less than 4 months, and haven't yet run for further than 5 miles...

EDIT: I've just discovered that my hoodie has little slits in the cuffs which allow them to become sort-of fingerless mittens! :-D Granted, I had some fingerless gloves back in the 80s, when they were In, and found them a particularly rubbish item of clothing. However, that was mostly because the knitting splayed out at end of each truncated finger, which meant that I had to go around with my fingers ever so* slightly spread, as if half-heartedly casting a tiny cantrip. However, it turns out that semi-partial-half-hearted suggestions of a fingerless glove, masquerading as a normal cuff, are really kind of awesome. At least they are when you've drunk a couple of pints of cider. :-D

* Whenever I say that, I remember my Mum saying that a neighbour of hers in Edinburgh in the early 70s once said, dismissively, of somebody else that she was "the sort of person who says 'ever so.'" I have never worked out what sort of a person this is, but ever so often, when I notice myself saying it, I wonder who is nearby, judging me.
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
2017-03-30 01:52 pm
Entry tags:

Books read in March

Posted one day early, since I'm going away tomorrow and won't have finished my current book before then. Quite a lot of books this month, but a lot of them were short, quick children’s books.

Books read in March )
ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
2017-03-28 05:52 pm

Farmland, downland, churches, monuments and coastal path

I had a day off yesterday, and headed off to south Wight for a lengthy adventure through varied terrain.

Here be many photos )
ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
2017-03-19 10:45 am

A quest for poo

Yesterday was gloomy, but undaunted I set off on to walk from one end of the island to the other in search of fabled poo. Pellinor met me half way to partake of some delicacies supposedly obtained by poachers, which we ate in a place guarded by pirates, and then we headed on together, where we were successful in our quest.

A long and gloomy journey to the shrine of poo )