HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Archive for May, 2007

Entry for May 31, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on May 31, 2007

Yesterday someone came to look at my Opel Manta GT/E. I hadn’t realised how much she had deteriorated since being backed out of the garage to make way for a second hand kitchen, pending its installation in our kitchen. With hindsight, I should have rented some storage at Big Yellow and resisted Stephen when he got around me to put the Manta outside.

She has been leaking. She’s always leaked, right from new, but sitting on the driveway, she’s accumulated a lake in the left rear passenger footwell and the carpets throughout are damp and musty.

It’s a crying shame. She’s really a complete restoration job now and not just in need of a little TLC. I hope someone buys her and takes her on before she deteriorates any further.

Today’s picture is of her in happier times when she was still being driven.

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Book Review: Barbara Wood – Sacred Ground

Posted by HelenEdith on May 30, 2007

I nearly didn’t make it past the first chapter of this book, but I’m really glad that I persevered, because it turned into an excellent book.

The main character is an archaeologist, Erica Tyler, who is investigating a cave exposed during a landslip in Los Angeles. The cave is near some very exclusive houses, and the owners want the cave filled in so that they can return to their houses.

The cave contains paintings, the bones of someone known as “The First Mother”, and a number of other more recent objects. Native American groups want “The First Mother” buried elsewhere as soon as possible, so they don’t want Erica investigating, either.

We are led through a tale told partly from Erica’s perspective, interspersed with chapters from the time of “The First Mother” and her more significant descendants, right up to the time when the Spanish Missions are established and many tribes disintegrated. We are then led through the Californian gold rush, but then we go back to the present.

I didn’t like the way that one vital piece of information about Erica was withheld almost until the end of the book, but it was a jolly good story anyway.

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Book Review: Tess Gerritsen – The Sinner

Posted by HelenEdith on May 26, 2007

I came to Tess Gerritsen a while back via her book “Body Double”, which was trailed with just the sort of synopsis that interested me, and I found Tess Gerritsen to be well worth reading, so when I spotted another of her books on the library shelves, I took it down and checked it out.

This book also has the pathologist Maura Isles as its main character, and some of the other characters are the same ones as appeared in “Body Double”, which is actually a later book than this one.

The story line of this book is the brutal murder of a young nun in a convent in Boston, but there is a prologue of a few pages set in India, so you just know that there’s going to be an Indian connection later in the book.

As the story unfolds, not only do we follow the investigation of the murder of young Sister Camille, but we also follow the attempted murder of the older Sister Ursula. Maura eventually uncovers evidence so damning that her own life is in danger, but by the end of the book, we do get to know “who dunnit” and why.

I will be looking out for more work by Tess Gerritsen.

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Book Review: Celeste Bradley – One Night With a Spy

Posted by HelenEdith on May 26, 2007

This is a historical romance which turns out to be part of a series, and I did occasionally feel while reading it that it would have been better had I read the earlier books first.

The story is about Lady Julia Barrowby, who has been substituting for her late husband as “The Fox” in “The Royal Four”, a set of spies loyal to England. Now that she is a widow, she wishes to claim her place officially as “The Fox”. The other members of “The Royal Four” are horrified that Lord Barrowby should have made his bride into his apprentice, and want very much to discredit Lady Julia.

Enter Marcus Ramsay, Lord Dryden, who expected to take the seat of “The Fox” in “The Royal Four”. He goes to Julia’s home to check out the lie of the land and to gather evidence to discredit her claim, and falls in love with Julia.

Julia also has other problems: someone is trying to sabotage her estate, and Julia goes on the run with the fairground people, with whom she lived prior to becoming Lady Barrowby.

As it’s a romance, we all know that it’s going to end all right, and sure enough, Marcus and Julia do end up together.

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Entry for May 25, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on May 25, 2007

It’s the weekend! 😀

Not only that, it’s a long weekend.

The weather forecast isn’t that good 😦 but hopefully it will be dry enough to go to the Sellindge Steam Special and see (and photograph) the traction engines.

I practised QEII Bridge queue avoidance this evening by making a side-trip to Lakeside on my way home from work. I bought up big in Holland & Barratt. One of the downsides to working in Xchanging’s Basildon office is that there’s absolutely nothing in the way of shops that can be visited at lunch time without getting in the car. It does mean I don’t fritter money away, but also means that when I do want to stock up at Boots or Holland & Barratt, I have to plan a special trip to do it.

Once I’d done my shopping at Lakeside, I joined slow-moving (but at least it was moving) traffic and got over the Bridge and arrived home at 9pm.

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Entry for May 21, 2007 – Cutty Sark

Posted by HelenEdith on May 21, 2007

Today was the day when the Cutty Sark burned.

I’ve just been watching the TV news, and because she was under restoration, some parts of the ship were elsewhere (e.g. the figurehead and the masts) and remained undamaged, but there has been a huge amount of damage. We can only hope that enough is left that she can be restored. Her loss would be tragic.

Edited to add: 21st May 2007 *National Tragedy* from crashcalloway’s Blog

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Entry for May 20, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on May 20, 2007

I’ve had a very lazy weekend, which is probably good, as the next three weekends show signs of being very busy with two Steam rallies sandwiching the Biggin Hill Air Fair – all of which should be excellent camera fodder.

I’ve put a couple of loads of laundry through the washing machine, and not before time, as I was running out of tights. Apart from that, I’ve watched a lot of tennis, but switched from the Men’s final in Hamburg to the Women’s final in Rome and missed Roger Federer beating Rafael Nadal on clay. 😦 Jelena Jankovic defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in Rome, and in the process assured herself of the 4th seed at Roland Garros in a week’s time. That pushes Mauresmo down to 5th, which means that she could get a trickier draw than Jankovic, although as Serena Williams will also be in the 5-8 seed bracket, it does at least ensure that Mauresmo won’t meet Serena before the semi-finals, which is something that the top 4 are not assured of!

My picture of another car reflected in a Borgward Isabella, which is today’s picture, did quite well in the April competition on the Pentax Forums. It didn’t win, but did attract a reasonable number of votes. 🙂 We didn’t get to this year’s Ravens Wood Custom & Classic Car Show & Fayre as the weather wasn’t good last weekend, or I might have seen the Isabella again.

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Entry for May 16, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on May 16, 2007

It was Wednesday today, so I home-worked. I breaks the week up if I lose the commute on a Wednesday, and I got lots of peace and quiet at home – most of the time. Stephen did call out some of the scores from the Mauresmo-Stosur match at the Italian Open, and I did take a break to watch the second set tie-break, which Stosur ended up losing. However, she won through in the end, which pleases me, as I had my Australian hat on. 🙂

This evening I went to my occasional orchestra evening. A group based on the Marlowe Ensemble, but with some extras like myself added in, meets about once every six weeks to read through some of the Classical and Romantic orchestral repertoire. There is no rehearsal about it as it doesn’t lead to a performance. It’s just a group of people playing through some of the orchestral repertoire for the fun of doing it.

This evening’s playing started with Mozart’s overture “Titus”, which warmed us up nicely to attempt Brahms’ Serenade No.1 in D Major. We took a break in the middle of it, as it was quite taxing stuff. I personally didn’t manage to play all the notes when confronted by tenor clef, five sharps, and a passage with lots of leaps in it which went down to the lower end of the tenor clef. All I could do was count the bars and make sure I knew where to come in when something within my capabilities appeared on the stave in front of me. We finished off with Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. We were just going to play the first movement, but decided to play the other movement when we got to the end of the first movement. I’m pretty sure the second movement of the “Unfinished” accompanied the Del Monte Man in a TV advertising campaign a few years ago.

…Which leads us neatly to today’s picture, which is of apples so fresh that they’re still on the tree!

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Entry for May 15, 2007

Posted by HelenEdith on May 15, 2007

Today in the office started disastrously. We have a lot of developers, both in the UK and India, and we all share one database for doing our testing, and someone is testing a program which contains some rogue code which is deleting vast numbers of rows from one rather vital table. It happened this morning, and what was worse, before I arrived in the office, the database got ‘reset’ to its clean state, which happens to be minus all the policies I’d just spent two days entering. 😦 What was even worse was that if I’d only been in earlier (much earlier) I could have recovered the affected rows from the journal, but once the database had been reset, that option was no longer open.

That’s when the day started to look up a bit, as Dave took pity on me (this is at least the second time I’ve lost data that I’ve spent ages keying in) and requested last Friday night’s backup be restored into a library where I could continue my testing unaffected by those who delete rows from vital tables.

This did leave me with a problem though: as I didn’t need to rekey all my data, what was I going to do until the backup had been retrieved from offsite and restored?

It wasn’t too long before one answer to that problem materialised in the form of an Instant Messenger conversation with one of our Indian RPG programmers, who was looking for a bit of help with her work.

I was still immersed in her problems when an account manager phoned me up asking for a bit of help with a customer problem, and I agreed to take a look. I found something “not quite right” and that kept me occupied for the rest of the afternoon.

In fact, I think it’s the best afternoon I’ve had for ages. There’s nothing like a good database problem to inspire me. (Sad, I know.) In fact, I had such an interesting afternoon that I didn’t even go looking for any nibbles.

Which reminds me: I’d better replace the dried figs – although possibly with a smaller bag next time. 🙂

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“Do not eat before driving”

Posted by HelenEdith on May 15, 2007

I keep a few nibbles in my drawer at work. Mostly it’s nuts and dried fruit, but I’ve also got a weakness for Sesame Snaps, which I don’t think qualify as either of the above.

Some time ago, I bought rather a big bag of dried figs, but I found that a few figs go a long way and it was taking me a long while to get through the bag, and although they were well within their “use-by” date, they were becoming very sugary on the outside.

Yesterday, I thought that even though they were sugary that they were probably still good and extracted the bag from my bottom drawer, but upon opening it, I decided that as it was only an hour before I was expecting to drive home that maybe I shouldn’t be eating one after all, as the whole bag no longer smelt figgy, but more like brandy!

I offered Dave (who sits at the next desk) a sniff, and he agreed with me.

As they didn’t seem appropriate any longer for office consumption, I brought them home, but I suspect that Stephen has binned them.

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