ladyofastolat: (Vectis)
Today I found myself with an hour to kill on the south coast, in between storytimes, so stopped en route to look at some of the changes the recent weather has wrought. I couldn't get to the big things: the big cliff falls, the collapsed sea walls, and, worst of all, the stretch of main road - full of houses - that has half disappeared. But I did get a few pictures of the somewhat less drastic things: )

Jubilees

Jun. 1st, 2012 07:28 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
What do bunting factories make in between jubilees? I'm imagining factories full of depressed bunting specialists, getting every more droopy and depressed, until a jubilee comes around, and finally their machines burst into life again, and the workers can put into practise all their ancient hard won bunting skills.

(Do bird buntings and wavy buntings have anything in common, I wonder? How does one bunt? Yes, I know I can look it up, and I very likely will, but sometimes it's more fun to speculate in ignorance.)

Are we going to face a sad autumn and winter, contending with a terrible shortage of red, white and blue paint, living in shades of green and grey?

I found the Silver Jubilee very very exciting. I remember collecting Jubilee milk bottle tops. Why don't we have jubilee milk bottle tops nowadays? I won the fancy dress competition in our local street party (no credit due to me, only to my Mum, who made a very fine ladybird costume for me, though I'm not entirely sure what the Jubilee relevance was) and also the painting competition, although my entry then blew away and went wafting away out of my territory, into places where the natives were wild and unfamiliar and strange. I also won my age category in a competition in the local paper, for coming up with a sentence starting with the letters of "silver jubilee." I can still remember my entry, which causes me to conclude that, A, no-one else in my age group had entered, or, B, mine was the only entry bizarre and, well, bad enough to be the obviously unaided work of a 6 year old. I won a model Jubilee bus, and was very unimpressed by it and never took it out of its packet. I wonder if it's still lurking somewhere in my parents' loft.

I also saw the Queen at a distance when she citified Derby. This was exciting, too.

I hope today's 6 year olds find the whole thing as exciting as I did back in 1977.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I heard on the news the other day that UK petrol prices had reached an average price of £1.40 per litre for unleaded petrol. This surprised me, since it's been over £1.40 for many months at the petrol stattion I drive past every few days. At that petrol station today, it was 147.8p per litre, but I passed another one at selling it at 148.9. So where is all this petrol selling for a lot under £1.40, to counter all this expensive petrol and bring the average down? (As context for Americans: If I've done my conversion calculations correctly, 148.9 pence per (UK) litre is the equivalent of nearly $9 per American gallon.)
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Back when I lived in Gloucestershire, the fun part of any international disaster was the "local wasn't actually caught in it!" new stories that followed in the local paper. (Our local paper here on the island doesn't seem to do this quite so much.) Sometimes the paper failed to play the game properly, and actually included a local who really was caught up in the event, but usually it played along properly and gave us some incredibly tenuous connection. In this spirit, I wonder if I should send them my shocking story.

It will, of course, be accompanied by a photo of me looking solemn and shaken, holding a blank piece of paper that the caption will tell readers is something relevant to the story. I will then reveal my story: "Former Gloucestershire resident, who left the county in 1994, but whose parents are still pillars of a small local community, talked today about her narrow brush with death in Libya. When LoA's 40th birthday was approaching last year, she told her husband, King Pellinor, that she wanted "to see some Roman stuff in north Africa." She favoured Tunisia, but Pellinor said that a former colleague of his (Not Local) had gone to Libya and had said that it was excellent. "Leptis Magna is the best Roman stuff you can get," he told her. LoA had doubts, wondering about the safety of the country, and grumbling about the alcohol ban, but Pellinor pointed out that tour companies that aimed their tours at 80 year olds were going, so there was no way that it could be dangerous.

LoA's birthday was in November, but leave allocations were tight, so she decided to leave the holiday until February. She also persisted in wanting to visit Tunisia, and had pretty much ruled of Libya completely. Then job insecurities hit, and the holiday was never booked. But for this tiny, miraculous, one-in-a-million chance, LoA and Pellinor would have been in Libya right now. "I can't sleep at night," LoA told us, "for thinking about how close we came to death."
ladyofastolat: (Default)
Tonight, at home time, the industrial estate on which I work was eerily empty. Instead of packed car parks with queues to leave them, there was just silence and emptiness. Since I can't think of any reason why so many workers might have chosen to take the afternoon off, I can only assume that some hideous apocalypse is upon us. Mass alien abduction doesn't work, since why have the cars gone, too? A zombie apocalypse would probably involve more blood and severed limbs adorning the silent roads. An asteroid strike is something I suspect I would have noticed, even in the quiet of the library. It must be plague, then. That's a shame.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I have no interest in football or the World Cup, and will not be watching it. However, I'm getting increasingly annoyed by articles that sneer at the whole thing, dismissing it as stupid, and implying that the writer is superior in some way by not being interested. Everyone is interested in different things, after all. While I don't feel passionate fannish devotion for any sports team, I certainly understand passionate fannish devotion for books or films. I don't like it when football fans sneer at science fiction fans and call their obsessiveness "sad", so how could I be so hypocritical as to do the same to them? I'm not interested, but millions are, and good luck to them. I don't think lack of interest in anything is something to be proud of - just as it's nothing to be ashamed of, either.

And on a totally different subject: I was looking at a new children's book (aimed at 9 to 10 year olds) on healthy eating today, and I came across the recommendation that people should eat only 2 portions of dairy products a day. Examples given of a "portion" were a glass of milk, or a hand-sized piece of cheese. I am baffled by the hand as a unit of measurement of cheese. Does it relate to the volume, or merely to the area of its cross-section? If the latter, does it matter how thick the chunk is? Could you have a chunk six inches thick as long as it could rest on your hand without overlapping in any way? Do you include the fingers? If so, are you allowed to spread your fingers as wide as you can get them, to maximise area?
ladyofastolat: (Night gathers)
So last week we had the revelation that stoned wallabies cause crop circles. Yesterday we had the mega-colony of ants that covers the entire world, and today we have a wall of dolphins and a cat appearing on a political debate show. Either these are signs and portents of the coming apocalypse in which all the animals of the world rise up and overthrow the puny humans, or I've strayed into the opening scenes of a role-playing campaign. I think I'll just wander along to the nearest tavern and wait for a wise old man (or tapir?) to give me my quest...

EDIT: Or maybe the animals are just trying to get revenge on mankind because climate change is shrinking sheep.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
A few weeks ago, I read a very interesting book about the 1918 flu pandemic. At about the same time, I also read one about the Black Death, and did quite a lot of online reading about cholera epidemics, typhus on battlefields, and malaria in Britain.

I'm kind of wishing I hadn't done so now.

QE2

Nov. 11th, 2008 07:26 pm
ladyofastolat: (Default)
I've just been watching the QE2's final departure from Southampton (and seeing how busy it is, it's probably a good thing that Pellinor's in London for a few days, and not trying to come home in it.) It's got everything:

Reporters constantly passing over to other reporters, only to encounter silence, followed by confused non-sequiturs.

"And look at the excitement!" (camera cuts to a glum-looking roving reporter, and some very cold and miserable-looking crowds.)

Interview on deck with some ex-captain in which a very stereotypical-looking old lady wanders up behind him and peers quizzically over his shoulder at the camera.

"Later the captain will give his dress to the people of Southampton." Okay, I think the word was "address," but it didn't sound like it. Maybe it was "dress." I'm going to press the red button to get yet more exciting hours of this, to try to find out. EDIT: How disappointing. It was an address.

"The crew is having a wonderful time, waving." They really know how to party!

"She's now going to toot. Or hoot." One reporter then says "toot." The other, slightly pointedly, I think, says "hoot." I sense a schism.

When the fireworks start, I'll be able to make an accurate assessment of the speed of sound, by measuring the time difference between the bangs on TV and the bangs in real life.

EDIT: The fireworks are just a distant rumble, so the speed of sound will have to remain uncalculated for now. Maybe the wind's in the wrong direction. They were a lot louder for the Trafalgar fireworks in Pompey. They look good on TV, though.

EDIT2: The Isle of Wight appears to have ceased to exist. "She will sail down Southampton Water, past Calshot, then out into open water."

Earthquake

Feb. 27th, 2008 08:15 am
ladyofastolat: (Default)
So apparently there was an earthquake last night. I miss all the fun! Well, I did wake up several times in the night, and on one of those occasions I know the time started with a 1, so I can perhaps tell myself that I was shaken from my gentle slumber by the quaking of the earth, like unto the stomping of an army of giants, but I honestly doubt it's true. Anyone else have exciting earthquake stories? (Okay, I should probably delete that "else".)

EDIT: I just want to register my displeasure with whoever it is who is responsible for dishing out interesting natural phenomena. Please don't discriminate against the Isle of Wight just because we're little. We have just as much right to pretty snowfalls and interesting floods (but not property-destroying, please) and strong-enough-to-be-exciting-but-not-so-strong-that-they're-scary earthquakes as our bigger and pushier brother, the Mainland. Please don't forget us next time, okay?

Floods

Jul. 24th, 2007 05:50 pm
ladyofastolat: (Misty Glastonbury)
"Worst floods in Britain in modern history", one newspaper said today. Somewhere else said that the rescue operation is the largest peacetime military operation ever. I feel very guilty for feeling jealous of my parents' 130mm of rain on Friday. Looking at the post-apocalyptic scenes on television is very powerful, especially since my parents are caught up in it (though not as badly as many*), and it's my childhood haunts that are ruined under the brown water.

I have a weakness for post-apocalyptic stories, even though they always give me bad dreams. There's something terrifying and thrilling about how fragile our grip on civilisation is. Take out one pumping station, and 350,000 people are without fresh water. Take out one power station, and a county is without electricity. Blockade a few refineries, as happened a few years ago, and the entire country comes to a halt, no-one able to go anywhere. There are so many things that make our lives more comfortable than the lives of our forefathers, but they are so utterly dependent on other people. We don't grow our own food or get our own water from a well or travel only the places we can reach on our own feet. It is so terrifyingly easy to take down our whole infrastructure, and we're lost, totally unable to look after ourselves.

However, I find the human nature side of it strangely comforting. Post-apocalyptic stories often show law and order totally breaking down, and people reverting to savagery and violence. I prefer to think that decency would survive. Yes, there has been some looting, and there have been some horrid attempts to make profit out of people's desperation for water, but there have also been so many cases of people going out of their way for others. My Mum knows lots of people who put refugees up on Friday night, or who were out in the torrential rain shovelling piles of silt and mud from the doors of even older people. There have been images of people risking their lives to get others out of trapped cars or houses. Some people are trying to steal water, but most people are orderly queuing. There are lots of nasty people around, and they hit the headlines, but I think most people are okay, and that order and decency prevails even in the worst situations. Awful things happen, but life returns to normal afterwards.

* My Mum phoned as I was writing, and they've been told that it might be four weeks before they have fresh water. Eeek! It's their Ruby Wedding in two weeks, and we're visiting them for a nice dinner and celebration. Maybe we should just invite them here instead. Apparently Winchcombe was filmed for the main BBC news today, so I'm off to watch.
ladyofastolat: (Default)
The media always seems to celebrate anniversaries of events early. By the time the actual anniversary comes round, it all seems like old news. I wonder why this is. Have they all written their articles and TV programmes early, and get impatient sitting on them? Or do they want to get their article/programme out before the rivals? Probably the latter. It's the same in film marketing. I remember when Star Wars episode 1 came out in July 1999, in Britain. All the TV marketing, tie-in novels, free action figures in cereal boxes etc. had all happened in the lead up to May, when the film came out in America. Star Wars was distinctly old news when the film actually opened here. It was all quite odd. And why do novelisations of a film come out a good month or two before the film opens? Do these people want everyone to get spoilered?

Anyway… Everywhere I look at the moment seems to be doing their Princess Diana retrospectives, even though we're some two months (?) short of the anniversary. It's made me do some remembering of one of the most fascinating and bizarre weeks I can remember.

Ten years )

Cricket

Sep. 12th, 2005 03:29 pm
ladyofastolat: (Kitten)
I don't watch cricket. I don't follow any sport. I'm not even sure I entirely approve of wanting one's own country to beat another.

Yet, even so, I've been anxiously checking the score all day. I can't begin to imagine how nerve-racking it must be for people who really care.

Now, what's the score again?

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