WMC's diary pages, 2005.

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2005/03/01. Tuesday. Rain.

A pinch and a stoat on the first of the goat and no returns...

E to M'a; D sch. I *have* remembered his stuff, and the chopping boards, for fruit salad day.

Work: submit ULS again :-). Reboot minifer. Etc. GM's Georgina turns up: another from Oxford! Wiki: 172 being bad and re-protected. Sigh. Not that I do wiki at work...

Home 2. Rain, lightly. Decide to try out new saw. And its better. But its a lot of work (blackthorn branches entwined and won't fall when even 99% cut through and then snags) and I end up with tired arms. Oil saws and leave in shed. Tea and bread and read LotR III. Exciting! Even though I know what will happen. How odd.

3:30: sch for DE. End up via some tortuous negociation with Oliver too. Somehow all 3 entertain themselves (chiefly pooter) and I have peace to do the washing up and a bit of other tidying.

M back about 5, but swiftly collapses: her late night catching up on her.

Oliver collected 5:30: I "cook" for DE: cheese toasties and mozarella. Hmm. M and I finish off mushroom mix from Sat.

Do some math with D: n times table; squares; small cubes; differences of squares. OK.

Print out emails for this evenings meeting; M beds E.

8:30: to JM for salaries ctte; nice and quick with only us two and in agreement.

Home; wiki still too slow to use/down. M to bed well before 10, last night hits her. I will follow soon. Do minutes of meeting and phone Trisha. Play with blogger styling.

2005/03/02. Wednesday. Rain.

Rather a pleasant and peaceful day. E to M'a (payment for monday), D sch. Work till 2 (take up the great task of the sea ice paper again) then head home. Stop at the pub for a coffee and the sudoku, which on wednesday is Difficult but in fact not too hard and I do it just after 3, when they shut...

Home: M is back with E; they have been shopping. I get D; he is last out of class (no surprise; but he *has* been very good about getting ready for school on time since half term) and appears to be in a good mood (later at home he says it was a bad day and refuses to say why, but you wouldn't guess that from his mood). Home.

Misc quiet afternoon. Wikipeace and the witch is dead (172 says so; and by bizarre coincidence SN too, though quietly), though Ed seems to have gone off the rails but since he is a good ol' boy he can get away with it (though in fact what he did was very noisy but easily reversible so, once the shock wore off, not too bad). DE playing happily. Help D on beltz.

Stoat: strat cooling.

Bedtime for D: finish the Hobbit: oh dear what next?

Soir: quiet. Upload WWB pic for wiki. About 10 M starts playing and I think I should be going to bed nice and early but now its 11...

2003/03/03. Thursday.

W / Y (Janet tired). Thence... well, to town, since its sunny.

Ben W: chap looks at my rear wheel and says time for a new one; but workshop can't fit me in; so get some spokes instead. To Heffers, and their nice little cafe Nero, for coffee and ciabata and a bit more of the JS biog.

5:45: pick up D then E. Confirm J with M'a. M back 6:30 (making me a bit nervous) and we tidy somewhat.

7: Jodie turns up - a bit swollen-mouthed with her teeth but can speak and DE look like they will behave. Out to Eliza Carthy/Spiers+Boden. M couldn't really find out when it started - "doors open 7" it said - so we opted to leave here 7. Park in multi-story - its very tight, M has trouble on the ramps - and get in. Its a rather concrete-blocky dreary place, at least the bar area. Looks like minimal-maintenance and clear-for-fights not welcoming. Hey ho. Get a drink and read for a bit; then pick a spot by the stage. M guesses about 200 audience; room for more. We are slightly confused by the running order: its EC+SB, *then* Sharon Shannon, who M heard at the folk fest but I didn't. So is SS the famous one, on the grounds that later means more famous? But the write-up gave far more space to EC. We shall see.

So: the music: OK; perhaps even good; on a few somgs even excellent; but (on reflection) probably didn't do justice to anyone; less that the sum of the parts (nothing up to Jackie Tar on EC's part, or Rambling Sailor on S/B). Partly this is my disappointment at not getting more S+B by themselves; partly that the sound from the 5-piece (another violin/guitar; and a tuba; sorry I don't know who) was just a trifle muddy and less focussed than S+B were at the folk club. M says she thought J-fiddle was poss better than EC (though both v good she thought). I would rather they had played as S/B then EC plus her too, I think.

After an interval SS comes on and I think it becomes clear that she is support: nice enough I guess but a bit on the tweedly-deedly side for my tastes. We have to be home by 11 so slope off jnust before 10:30. I walk J home: frost. Cold.

2003/03/04. Friday. Snow! Melts.

Wake to snow outside and still falling heavily. Stops as we leave, about 1+ inch, nice and thick and fluffy and feels cold - all promising. D has been out playing (see him while still in bed, with 2 hats on for warmth). Take camera with me for there may be things worth pics. And indeed E is.

Sch, kinds ecstatic in the playground; building big snowmen, rolling huge balls around. But, somewhat late, shepherd him in. E p/sch, after another little play in snow. Then work. But even as I get there the weather is shifting, to rain... heavier... oh dear D will be sad. And by the time I leave at 1:30 all the lovely snow is gone. But I did get some nice pics on the footpath, even if the new fence doesn't help.

Stop off at pub - hoping for sudoku but no - and get sandwich, which they expedite for me kindly. Also a half of Broadside. Then arrive on time for D's "choosing time", ie 2:15-2:45 when they get to pick what they want to play with, before the afternoon break. But before that D finishes his "fruit salad" work with me - to write about its taste, and what he would do different. At work, JT is the bollockmeister but for kids stuff like this its easy, though poor D is sorely puzzled by what to say. Then we play: first with the electric stuff and I show him (and the others too, all interested) that you can couple two electric motors together so the second one *generates* electricity, and we just about light up a bulb (it works better with four batteries powering the first motor; it also turns out that Mrs S didn't know that running a motor produces elec). Thence onto the blocks, which they like, to make parks and things. And lastly lego - they have a small tech set, but more important is a set of cards with simple ideas for interesting machines. I borrow these at plays end. D wants me to stay but leave him. See M'a outside and say hello E (who is off to P's) and get her bag.

Home. M is there, has been all day, but says she has been good and worked.

Kirsty phones: Jodie is not at all well (teeth still) and can't really do tomorrow: so I say OK. Phone up Clare, who can, though inconvenient: thanks to her.

6+: drive to get DE. N is somewaht annoyed with them I think, and they are loud, and D was *v* slow at getting ready from school - this is his habit, but N takes me aside to say it, and maybe this is a good time to lean on him about it. But she is full of praise for E/P. Andy arrives to collect B just as I've offered to take him back. Home.

A bit more beltz with D, though we still can't get past ?B7? is it. About the second suction one. Its a good game though - but needs a "slow" option.

Meanwhile M has phoned balloons and tomorrow is off - something of a relief as it turns out cos using C/A would have been a bit favour. But we can reschedule a bit later. A asks if DE want to come over 1:30 ish so I say yes but this turns out to annoy D who wants Sam over... argh.

Soir: finish LotR III. M plays. Early bed.

2005/05/05. Saturday.

MDE off to w/rose while I'm in bed, then a pebble on the window: M has forgotten her keys. Should I go to town? Well maybe not, no need. Wiki.

11: Penny brings Sam over, which makes D happy as he hasn't had the chance to play with S for ages. S has matured a bit: still a bit naughty perhaps but mildly so (on the evidence of today). Still an edge to his character. But he can concentrate when he wants to: I go down to chop some more tree and DS follow; S sticks doggedly to sawing through a thickish branch till he has finished when the more mercurial D has drifted away.

After, they go over the stream and I lose them a bit. Good to have the two of them wandering off together to explore. Later: call them back for lunch: they have found a "punt" - an old bit of landing stage I think, but whose. After lunch: M needs to go to practise on a grand in a bit. I drink coffee then follow DS out, they have a "picnic" of some sort with them, and want to float the "punt". I go out to find them... where are they? GO nearly to the W end, calling: no reply. Head back. Calls behind: Sam: D is stuck on some barbed wire. Oops. Free him (would he have thought to wriggle out of his jumper like Peter rabbit?). D has also lost one red glove, somewhere. Anyway, now time and a bit to go back, and as we wriggle over the tree that is our bridge we find Jeff and katie wondering where we are. Chat. Should have invited K too?

2:30: take kids to A+C for invited play. Rain :-(. Kids playing f'ball on BW: I consider telling them to stop: but: who else is going to use it in the cold rain? Drop kids; DB wants to chat about kids. Possibly ironically, by the time we're fin the rain has inc and kids have stopped. My POV: we're not going to stop them till there is somewhere better. And my unspoked view: if thats the level of problem we are worrying about, we should be glad.

M is back from her playing. It was worth it she says: the volume is more and the bass relatively louder.


Andy doesn't bring DE back till late: 6ish: they went via orchard and pub. Dinner: pizza. I get to take E to bed tonight, with her gracious permission, and we read Meg and Mog (she first "reads" it to little horse, then I read it to her).

Soir: misc, though (sigh) mostly in front of the r100. Is this the future? Is it good or bad?

2005/03/06. Sunday. Bonfire.

Not up till 9+. With DE's help, mostly D, get M breakfast in bed, for tis mothers day. Also give her the cards DE did at (pre)school. Sun.


After lunch leap up and cut down the nearest Leylandii. Well its been asking for it. Cutting it down to 1 min. Getting the roots out took another 1/2 h or more. M goes off at 2 to sign cheques with Sarah or something.

Take DE to the Orchard, for tea, and because D wants to buy a CD he saw there yesterday, Lego Island 2, with his own money. Also get some seeds and seed potatoes because E is keen.

4 ish: start up the bonfire of the May, thinking (correctly) that it will take a while to get going and so I should start early. Also alows me to do tidying elsewhere (under the big apple) and throw it on. Good. After a while DE come out and help.

Bath after to remove smoke. Read Peter Duck.

2005/03/07. Monday.

Work: mostly sonde/msu stuff: interesting. Brian G asks me about Cafe S: OK.

Home just before 7, all is well. I get to bed E cos M wants to work on p/s stuff. Long discussions with Sally on the phone about vouchers. Look at Rainbow which Tom sent! The nearly-unbelievable: http://rainbow.arch.scriptmania.com/rainbow_tv_episode.html - can it really be true? Wiki is down for writes :-( Make my first post to the en: newsgroup.

Now its 11:30 and M is playing and my fingers ache.

2005/03/08. Tuesday.

E up several times in the night... "there was a moving shadow...", "...there was a noise in my ears..." and stuff. Grrr. I guess she must be a bit sick. M does the getting-up-and-soothing her.

Work till past 3 (well I did stop for lunch) to finsih up the MSU stuff.

Pick up DE.

Home: bonfire. D gets Jesse and Ezra. Treehouse. Burnt bread. E inside.

Cook for D (toasty) and E (pasta). M back 6:20.

Soir: 7-10: PC. Argh.

Back: wiki quiet.

2005/03/09. Wednesday. Cold. Grey.

M needs to go to p/s so will take D: E and I get the bonus of not having to go to school and back. I'm not hungry to sit with oj and the paper while E flumps around. E turns out to be in a cantankerous mood today, and collapses into stubborness and/or tears whenever "crossed", ie asked or told to do anything she doesn't want to, such as wearing matching shoes, or her coat. Because of this we miss smoko, which neither of us wanted to do, but after a timeout on the stairs fails she goes upstairs to play and, of course, being 3.3 she doesn't understand that some things happen now or not at all.

Leave house about 11:30 and go to Germ, which is OK. E's "scarf" isn't there. Once again she has a chevre sandwich and eats some of the chevre but not much and insists (bad behaviour again) that I remove all the "yucky" bits, ie olvies and tomatoes. Hmm. Thence to library, and return some rather old books. Thence w/s for a second coffee (me) and apple juice (E). Then she insists on me buying crisps, and then refuses to eat any. I am not impressed. Kids books section for a bit, then time to go home (via breadshop).

Meet MD outside sch; hand E over; talk to IMcG (quote is coming over the fax as we speak, except its run out of paper...).

Home: wiki and GP stuff. D is off chez Oliver; E is half-invited over too at 5 ish but really she is in no state to play with anyone today (she has wet herself again, too... :-(). M goes to collect.

7:25: off to Haslingfield, SE, for GP meeting: candidates. Lasts till 9.

2005/03/10. Thursday. Later, Sun.

E in something of a mood in the morning again: has to be forced into her coat and her boots.

Work / Y / Mike Meredith talk on ACC var. Quite interesting... So I'm fin past 3, well 3:30 when all is done.

To allot, after some musing, and dig for about 1h, I've done rather little this past month. At the back: slowly expanding the habitable area. Slowly. DB is there too digging over his bit. By now its sunny and pleasant.

Home, intending to read my finance emails. But! Aha! I have forgotten the shutdown of BAS kit today. So I can't. Hey ho. Read the paper instead, not much. Tidy somewhat.

M'a phones at 5, annoyed: E has wet herself for the 3rd time and M'a is out of any kind of spare clothes for her. Oops. Pick up E 5:45: she is smiley, but in a guilty way. Odd thing is that M'a says that apart from the wee all was fine. Pick up D; home. M is back.

7: DE to bath. 7:30: off to gov finance. All the real decisions have already been taken...

Home. Quiet soir. Check over some photos.

2005/03/11. Friday.

D is ready very early... M sends him out to run round the garden. He got up early to play Beltz and sat there in his coat with his backpack on!

It turns out to be red nose day: we meet Dakota with his face red (we could have done D: he and E were doing painting this morning since they were up early, but we all forget or never knew). At school, Charlie has 1/2 a mini-edam on as a red nose and he offers D the other half: good! While outside with E (I often am, between 9 and 9:05, when pre-school opens; its better to wait in the corridor with E and read a book than go up to the p/s mobile and get crushed in the crowd. E is very fond of "deserts" at the moment) I hear Mrs S talking about RN day and pointing out the giving, and those-less-fortunate bits.

Work (do sudoku from wed while waiting for machines to come back), misc (also - argh - need to restart acluster and jobs cos Tom turned it off cos BL asked him too for what a ppear to be totally spurious reasons), JT discusses "management issues" briefly. Urgh. Somehow I don't end up finishing till 3 - well partly cos I had lunch. So get brief time at home. Pick E up from sch - naughty her, needed a change again, M'a unimpressed. Get P; off we go home. M tests my nerves by coming back at 4:05, so I rush off (stopping only to pick up clean clothes for D) and collect DNB to take to O's party in Grantchester. Frantic changing in the car and let them out one by one, oddly enough N first then B then D. Then home.

EP seem happy enough, largely playing "Orly". M cooks dinner: sphag. N brings D back, happy enough. What was it like? "Oh it was like O's parties always are: Mr Marvel, Disco, Food". But he seems to like it. Only N came too early...

E to bed early (7) for being naughty and tired. D in theory to bed a bit early but not much.

Soir: M tinkles. I vid her (or rather the tripod does) and she says she is getting better, which is right.

Fin: 11:10.

2005/03/12. Saturday.

Up 9:30. Sun sun sun how lovely but as so often happens it fades later. Get up earlier is the answer! But then I couldn't laze in it in bed.

Wiki: SEPP and IPCC rumble on but elsewhere there is peace so I should count my blessings really.

Head off to allot to tidy and dig. Take loppers because the various blackthorn that have sprung up really need to !die! before they get any bigger. Of course had I cut them years ago they would have been easier; and had I cut them 3 months ago they would now be dry enough to burn. But anyway! Chop the biggest mostly, and the others entirely, and start a bonfire of the bits on junk that have dried under the "roof" and it burns merrily.

Then some digging - at the front. Its time to start tidying up there. In fact I brought some onions to plant but not time. Need to do some earth moving viz the leftover lump of junkheap at the front - bring spade sometime. Still unsure if I'll need a stoatavator. Jim Lewis is out with his. David B has jury rigged some bizarre construction to catch water, which will blow away with the first breeze. Carry armloads of dried stalks to the bonfire.

Fin 12:30. Home. Surprise: MED still out shopping. Sun. So: take coffee and toast to sit outside. But: soon chills off and after the toast I take the coffee back inside. Peaceful reading of Peter Duck. MED back 1 ish.

1:40: take DE off to H+I pool for a swim, hurrah. Meet Billy, Clare and Stanley there, with Paul and AO later. And a good time is had by all. DBA(O) splash, swim and float well together. E sits by the edge (as ever) but rather happily and agrees to sit on a float occaisionally. We have brought several bottles and bowls she wanted to play with, and she does. Its quite noisy in the pool - hard to hear her. Stanley floats in his rubber ring with a big smile on his face. Stay in till 3:30. C leaves with S and I get B (well I offer). We go off to the pub with PAO. The kids hide under the arch where the fire was, and watch the pool table; Paul and I talk a bit; I sudoku (don't finish a diff) while he reads the times... and he bought the drinks. E insisted on having a bag of crisps, and that it must be red. The pool players are bikers but very friendly to the kids, they don't mind them getting in the way, and even let DB try on their helmets!

After: home: bonfire. Clear out more of the deadwood, and cut down more of the blackthorn, till its really quite open, but more to do. Must plant a hazel in the space. Meanwhile DB have their own little fire (E stays inside) which they use to toast hot X buns, when it doesn't go out.

Dinner: pizza, which is easy. B hungry, D only a bit, E eats little. She has her trousers off again :-(. B off home; E to bed; I to bath 7:30-8:30, nearly finish PD. Come down exhausted. House is a mess: tidy later. PD till 9; wiki; pine; news; PF; st: on feb. M is playing, I'm off to bed: 11.

2005/03/13. Sunday.

E drags me up about 9... its a fair call, she has done a poo in her nappy. So we tidy her up and have breakfast again (I got up at 7:30 to get her first). Call D off his pooter to join us.

D constructed a marble run down the stairs using the skyrail kit D goes quiet for a while and then I discover he has been constructing a marble run down the stairs using his "skyrail" kit he got last c'mas, but sadly our house is too small to allow him to get it out much. J phones (re M's concert next week) so let D talk to her while I photo him... E joins in the fun, and I create a loop-the-loop, and all this is jolly.

Sit around drinking coffee in the sunshine (its warm out, but not warm enough to sit out, sadly). Wiki somewhat. M wonders if she can afford to get up and try to play... I warn her this is asking for trouble... and sure enough before she has even started E comes to her. E is happy at the moment, but fragile: if crossed, if tired. Maybe a bit ill, maybe in a bad development phase, who knows.

Lunch. Then out to dig: I have conceived the desire for a tidy garden, though the execution may fall short, but start by digging over the bed just beyond the arch, with help from D and E, so M gets to piano a bit. Replant the few we found that seem to deserve replanting: I don't know their names so I can't tell you them: possibly "grannies bonnets". Just as its time to go off to the Orchard (I want to buy a compost bin for the allotment) Dak arrives, so we take him too, and indeed Cory who turns up just as we're driving off. All a bit weird but never mind. Start off with a light snack and hot choc and apple juice all round (not mixed!), then the infants run out to play hide and seek and I trust their sanity and hope they behave. E sort-of stays with me: we buy some daffodils (small ones, sprouting from bulbs: they can be planted in the newly dug bed) and some garishly coloured primrose type objects that catch E's eye and - who knows - may look nice. Also get the said comp bin. Then its time to round up DCDk, which is tricky as they are playing hide and seek (their favourite game here, and its a good place to play it) and we can't find D. Get him eventually, off we go. Intend only to drop off stuff at allot but they are keen to come so off we go, D carrying the base, E the door, D the lid, and Dak wearing the bin itself :-). Decide to put it where the fire has just been, hoping it will be a bit sterile (possibly hopeless, as the soil beneath seems quite moist, when I dig it flat and remove the vast ?burdock? that was there.

Home. E goes inside; the rest come with me for a bonfire at the back. I start up mine then they get enthused cutting wood for theirs with a variety of implausible saws. All well. Send back C/Dak at 5:30 (as ever) and then D and I plant the new plants: good.

Inside: I have a quick bath before dinner. E's sanity is fading and her behaviour worstens, sadly, but we just about survive dinner. Then she goes for a bath, and D.

Soir: write up what I decide is vn0.8 of my talk for wednesday and mail a few people with it. Otherwise, fairly quiet.

2005/03/14. Monday.

PSA brings in his electric chainsaw. Yea! Watch out trees, here I come.

M finished the Phoenix and the Carpet at D's bedtime (slightly extending it to get the last 10 pages done).

10:30: to Cambourn to get electoral GP stuff.

fin well past midnight: GP stuff.

2005/03/15. Tuesday. Sun. Mild.

E M'a; D sch. Work: fluxes: are they a good idea? CG paper, and anyway ERA40 overestimates trends.

Fin work 2: to pub for lunch and a coffee and (having intended to read CG's fluxes paper) end up taking rather a long time over a Mild sudoku. Thence to allot to dig for 1/2 hour because its convenient to go straight on to school to pick up DE. E is there with M'a; cuddle; she runs off to play; sit in sun to await D. Then sit watching them run and play: DN are digging at the base of a tree doing something. E wants me to watch her walk along a wall. Pond has been drained by the commercial landscapers... hmm... well I suppose they know what they are up to. Talk to Nikola re M's piano. Finally about 4 N must be off to take Nelson to his violin lesson, so I offer to take NP since N and D are v keen for her to come. They play a bit more (P can only just get onto his bike with assistance but then cycles round the playground quite steadily though N'a is nervous) then N is bored with that so home! ND zoom off ahead, we don't see them, so I take EP home, P dragging (or shuffling) his feet somewhat. Once inside, EP settle down to bananas in pygamas (once I wipe E's snot etc off it) and ND are nowhere to be seen. N comes in a bit later saying they have been picking chives (D is fond of doing this but does rather over estimate how much we need) but were also doing hide-and-seek and expecting us to seek them. Oops.

Later: J and Ez turn up and disappear down to the stream with ND and some food I give them. After a while I check up what they are up to: the stream is quite low and they are playing by the "pontoon" bit. Inside.

6: cook: by E's req (and cos its late) Snood Explorer sphagetti: this goes down well with all. N'a comes at 6:30 to get her two, just preceeded by somewhat late M at :25. I go for a rest in the l'room.

Soir: wiki. GP electoral: less hassled that the night before, do the 5 remaining I need to get out, leaving 2 for me. M does some pre-school stuff.

2005/03/16. Wednesday.

Talk time: get there in good time, 7:45, and chaos and set up is in progress, which I suppose is what to expect. Chat to the folks there and all seems well. Meet PC, and then Howard Griffiths. A+S arrive quite early too so I sit with them while we're waiting. They went to the london book fair: interesting enough, and it doesn't occur to me to wonder why. Until later, when A points out the connection to S's proofreading. I hadn't realised, but its obvious. And analogous to the then wedding/tin stuff.

Anyway, we get going at 8:10, and I get about 15/20 mins, which is just as well cos I just about manage to get through in that time. And its a good talk I think and reasonably well pitched. Then PC; then HG. There stuff is rather more detailed, and to some extent proves some of my points about impacts: so earlier butterflies and tree leaves testify to warming, but are they supposes to be a bad thing?

After, to pub: Mitre is being redecorated so BoB is full (and tacky) so to Castle which is good. 3 pints of Oyster Stout. Excellent.

2005/03/17. Thursday. Warm and sunny.

Oh my head. Work, but not very much: I think I'd better write it down as a day off.

Yoga. Talk with ASR re talking, all very amicable if slightly odd.

Thence to town. It is warm! It is sunny! It is spring... so I bury myself in a bookshop (Heffers) with JS and the Clash and a coffee for an hour. Then back, and celebrate with some digging on the allot, its a good day for it and the soil is good. Progress at the front, but slow. It'll be planting soon.

Take E to bed, then bath: Maske: Theary. So-so.

M to bed early.

2005/03/18. Friday. Beautiful.

3:30: to sch to get E and P and (as it turns out, multi-sports being over) DN and B too.

Agree to NB coming over for sleepover tomorrow.

2005/03/19. Saturday. A day of two halves.

Morning: thin overcast; to town (CB1: struggle but vanquish mild Sudoku/arj) to relax. And do. Go in on old black bike: the red ones rear wheel is becoming extremely unround. Replace wheel or junk bike. Do we really need four?

1:30: back home; tidy; lunch.

Afternoon: thin sun: in garden with E mostly, after D goes off to get B and ends up staying there. Transplant more bulbs etc to the apple tree bed. E is more interested in the garden than D in some ways: or less likely to be distracted. She is keen to help, to rake and dig and put in compost and so on; D too, but more likely to wander off to his own things.

Soir: bonfire, with guest appearence from Andy and some beer: good. Get rid of most of the cut down fir with huge showers of sparks, and indeed flames that will have damaged some overextended branches of the big apple.

Then DBN bed down in the tent (N in the middle by consent) and I come in, weary of my labours. Talk to pooter: wiki: Cortonin has started an RFA against me: how amusing. I am not wound up however since its 4-1 against acceptance so far. I have agreed to sleep out with the kids (A and I were having some fun with stories of dragons over the fire, but they know enough not to believe us, at least in the light), so bath then write this quickly then out for 11.

2005/03/20. Sunday. O'night gentle rain.

Woken at quarter to 7 by the dulcet tones of the children telling one another stories. Its really quite sweet. There usually has to be a baddie in there. They also have the pre-prepared yoghurt breakfast. The rain is now just about stopped. I grunt, turn over, and sleep on. I woke several times during the night, of course. The sky was oddly light: no stars: v thin cloud I guess. Until the light rain started: but not enough to make me get a bivvy bag. I didn't really need to be out there: they were asleep when I got out. But I promised. And its nice to sleep out occaisionally, hear the birds sing, etc.

Surprised to see E coming out about 8, apparently dressed and in her boots. I think she goes into the tent. Later (just before 9) she drags me inside so she can have b'fast.

Plough for lunch. Food still good but expensive, service still marginally slow. But: the Adnams is off - no-one drank it, they say. Poss. More likely some deals in the background.

Leave 4:20 to drop M off for her concert. Need to circle round to look for a parkplatz and fail, so just drop her. Back, and fairly soon need to go. Phone A+C: rather belatedly, can we leave DE with them? Yes, provided we're back by 7. OK. Since its after 5 when we arrive, there are places. F is slow but steady, and we arrive with about 10 mins to spare. Its one of those rooms that makes colleges so wonderful: down a passageway formed of walls of a variety of building, the ceiling wood vaulted, the walls glazed brick. Few people there: its the end of a weekend after all. M is there; and her "opponent" - it turns out that person #3 has pulled out with a cut finger (possible I suppose, but nerves more likely).

And... M wins! Hurrah! In fact she doesn't get declared winner, but the one through to the next round, as a "highly commended", which means (M pointed out beforehand this might happen) that no-one was considered good enough to be declared winner. But this is wonderful for her anyway.

Back: I stop to pick up DE who seem to have been good. Dinner: lentil soup by M and cheese. F takes E up to bed after M reads story. I show Mfd about domain name registration - they want better email.


2005/03/21. Monday.

Work. Back 6:30. All is well, except for the huge pile of washing up :-(

7:30: to Gov meeting that lasts till 10:10. I am mildly awkward (should people see the budget before voting for it?) Why did it last so long? In the middle of it I sit wondering how much we have really decided (very little: mostly rubberstamping subcommittees and stuff: though the interchange of info is somewhat useful). Could nearly 3 hours of about 15 peoples time have been better spent? Rather likely. After, Andy drags me to the pub for a swift half that turns into 1 1/2 for me and I'm not sure how many for him. JMT arrive but sit at a different table.

Then I end up doing an hours wiki/news/mail till past midnight: silly me.

2005/03/22. Tuesday. Early rain (heavy); late sun.

While I'm abed M does some of the washing up: in fact most of it.

Send D off schoolwards (he has to wait for me to cross to the school, or find another adult to take him over) and take E to M'a. She has decided to ride her bike today, which is D's old yellow one with the stabalisers back on, but she is rather slow on it. By the time I'm at sch D is already in class. Check up on E's easter thingy (11:30-12+ on thurs) with p/s.

Work: misc, very misc. Not feeling too inspired; warming from radiosondes stuff drags on (publish and be dammed, I say). OPM's for HiGEM. Pull back abmba/../d. Home at 2, stopped by Ian to say that Richard Smiley the builder can probably come to talk on thursday. Who knows, it may happen. O+C are still slow. Still time for bread and marmite, and coffee, by the fire, reading Madouc.

Sch 3:30 for DE. Weather now clearing and warmer, and we sit and watch the infants running to and fro and having fun, E on her bike, D off with N. Should NP come to us? N is very winsome. Run off and play we say, and we'll talk it over, but N convinces herslef she shouldn't let them, so I accede. Nonetheless we end up bringing Cory home: he and D go ahead, I'm with slow E. When we get home they are nowhere to be seen: not to worry.

I do some washing up, E eats choc that F brought, it turns out that DC are down by the tent which is still up. OK. E and I go to sleep by the fire and I read her Cat in the Hat and One Fish, Two Fish. Then more sleep. Sam turns up... hello. Is this allowed? Go check: yes. So now its DCS in the garden (and E sometimes, cycling on the drive, experimenting with how the bike works) and me asleep. DCS disappear streamwards with a "picnic" which they like to do. I put on some pasta and brocolli and wonder when M will be getting back as the time passes 6... Penny arrives for Sam so we go in search, gingerly stepping over the felled Elderflowers and peering up the river for them and shouting... they come eventually; time for C to go home too; others were there too (Taylor; one other). Talk to Penny re exchanges: she can have DE for friday 1st, which is our balloon day.

Inside: D not hungry but eats a bit; E more; M back past 6:30 but: she has bought some more wshing up liquid: good. She went to town at lunchtime, mostly to get 2 CDs of her peices from the library. I go to sleep on the sofa (hmmm, notice the theme of the day... largely because of last nights beer and lateness I suspect).

Soir: put up my response to the wiki:RFA (RFA accepted once it was accepted that it was on both of us, so thats OK); stoat: on not much going on :-).

To bed not too late; M stays up all hours tinkling. She's even more keen on the piano now, oddly enough.

2005/03/23. Wednesday. Pleasant.

D to sch, E and I sit around (as we often do) reading a book; the wind in the willows, in this case. Then home (via BW, so I can do some token village tidying, though there isn't much to tidy). Home, E stays out, I sit in the sun inside. 10:30: off to work, E carries her ladybird umbrella but to her distress isn't allowed to open it on the bike. There are a lot of people around the table: we have to squeeze in. After, town, German cafe, which is surprisingly empty: they are pleased to see E, as ever. And I get a relaxing lunch. After, not to pool (E didn't want to go today) but library, restore some rather old books and pay our fines. Then (since E has holes in her leggings) on a tour of childs clothes shops but none have leggings! Argh. Still we get some chalk from the ELC and nice cheese from the market.

Then back: E inists on trying to poke her umbrella into the bike wheels, don't do it sez oi, it will break the umbrella and poss the bike. When we get to sch E is distressed to find that it has indeed worn the unmbrella somewhat. Cake sale: get some little ones to eat then. I take E home (she wants to cycle with me: unusual). When MD get back I go off to the allot to dig.

And a good one too: tidy the front; using carpet, join up the front two patches so the irritating grass/weed incursions from the strip between can't happen. Plant 4 rows of broad bean and 2 of red onions (the pre-winter ones are there, and growing too). Then home: tired but happy. Tidy a bit more dead tree. Bram comes round looking for JE; they turn out to be inside with D. They borrow Lucky Luke in french: they are learning it, says Bram (M afterwards says *JE* say that don't speak it and would only look at the pix...).

Dinner: I'm late, so bath first, then come down for noodles. Put E to bed (M is on a piano jag and can't be interrupted), but M reads to D.

RFA: SEW weighs in (even using his real name) against me of course and in favour of Morner. Sigh/reply.

2005/03/24. Thursday. Warm. Full moon.

I need to talk to the builder, Mr Smiley (really) who, even better, is not called Richard as I thought bur Robert. Who could not employ Bob the Builder, esp as no-one ever seems to need to pay him :-). So anyway, that means I'm skipping work this morning, and many others will prob do the same as we get the pm off. On of the last remaining joys of ex-govt employment is a few "priviledge days".

So, after seeing DE off, I settle down to some coffee and wiki, etc. Then I bestir myself and tidy somewhat, so that Robert, Ian and I can actually sit at the table and spread out plans. They arrive at about 10:30 on time, and we chat and seem to get on well and discuss prices (18/90k) and... oh rats, I was supposed to see Ian this evening and I forgot... hang on, I'll mail him.

Anyway, after that to p/s for the tails end of E's easter egg hunt, and it seems she has found an egg or two though I think she ate them; she is cutely wearing some bunny ears she has made. M'a comes along so I relinquish cute E. Off to work quickly, to drop bee labels with Mike M; thence to town, firstly to pick up E's cycle helmet which I correctly guess we left in the library, then to waste and hour in cb1 trying to do the sudoku. Rob surrenders me the paper because its a fiendish; he sings my praises to the woman he is with, but I disappoint him: some progress, but not finished, when I have to leave. Get coloured chalk from the german toy shop: not only far cheaper than ELC, but better quality.

So... back to sch in time, just for the easter assembly. Which features about what you would expect: songs and words. D sings his "i'm a real spring chicken" song along with his class, and with the moves too, as he has been practising at home. When D isn't singing, I work at the sudoku and make progress. M has come too.

After... well... so... the plan is for D not to go to home club, but to go to B's. Then N wants to come too. Then B is rather tired and bursts into tears and... well, in the end, DN do go, but not to stay for dinner. Right: so M and I off home. M mails; I wiki.

Then I pick up DN from B's at 5:30 and send them home, and go collect E, who is a bit distressed that I have the "wrong" bike. M feeds them, though mostly boiled eggs.

2005/03/25. Friday. Ends in sun.

Nice long lie in, then a rather slow morning, sliding into pm. Papers and web. About 1 I drag DE off to the orchard, partly to see if we can buy an easter egg for them, partly to give M a chance to practice. D decides to cycle; E is disuaded eventually. Along the way encounter Ian and discuss choice of builders.

D has a waffle, and eats all of it; E a chocolate cake, both hot choc. Then they run around outside doing something or another, while I do the fiendish sudoku and feel pleased with self. We don't get easter eggs - they don't seem terribly interested, M has some fairly small ones at home anyway, but we buy some small ones to make an easter egg hunt with.

Supposed to be leaving at 4 but in practice, ten to 5. By now its a beautiful soft late afternoon of sunlight; a pleasure to pack the car by. This time E volunteers to go to the loo rather than having to be forced to.

To Ma's. E fairly whingey in the car "are we there yet..." etc etc then strange groans. First thing: eat some peanuts. Ma is just getting dinner ready. Creme caramels are a bit over-caramelised, but if I scrape them they are OK, though M likes them like that.

Jokes over dinner: D: "why did the two worms *not* go into noahs ark in an apple?" because... they had to go in p(ai|ea)rs. E: "why did the shark cross the road?" because... it wanted to eat grandma. Or daddy: I forget which.

M puts E to bed while I help with the washing up; D reads Calvin+Hobbes. They are sleeping downstairs tonight.

Later: "my hero" then the Two Ronnies. Which is still pretty good, at least in parts, still of its time. I feel v tired around 8 and lie to sleep on the sofa but slowly wake up towards bedtime.

2005/03/26. Sat. Again good weather.

Something (the paper?) sez this is the third driest winter since rec began (188x). I again lie in late, though not as late as I thought, since I think I woke quite early. DE seem to have woken themselves up quietly: D comes in to inquire after C+H which is not where he left it cos I was reading it.

I get a quiet b'fast after all else; coffee, toast, ojuice and shreddies with xs sugar, the latter quietly hoping D won't notice. And he doesn't. After, outside to finish coffee and the paper. Ma's marble table is looking a bit... well, dirty; lichen-in-the-pores perhaps. Ma has scrubeed it; I have another go (using Ajax! that looks like its been around since I was young; and glass paper); improves it somewhat but more elbow grease, or a power sander/polisher, is required.

Weather is still passable so, leaving ME, drag D out for a walk. He is a touch reluctant but in the end we have a really good time, mostly down by the canal at the nearest lock. First we went to the swing bridge, then saw a boat in the lock and went to look; and then a whole succession came through. My impression is that its faster than the silly electric locks on the Cam. In one go, 4 1/2 narrowboats got in. D keen to help, pushing the lock gates and such, and since he is cute and people are friendly it works well. At last drag him away; we go over the swing bridge (left open by the last barge; ask another to close it for us) then down the far footpath I've never taken before, which is a small new wood, quite pleasant. Then we need to walk back, under the railway, to the Duke of W, thence to the marina (which D keeps on calling the arena) where we have a drink, D being quite parched, and watch the boats - seems quite busy. Then home, for lunch, others already finished; I eat (w'cress soup; D won't touch it) and D nibbles.

RNLT sort-of expected at 3; he phones to say 4; then why not met at Ashridge? Yes, OK. So (M left sleeping on the sofa) we (MeDEMa) head off at 3:45 and get there just at 4; no sign of the others so we climb up the monument (free cos we are NT) leaving Ma at the bottom to greet them. Its quite a way up, fortunately with enough room to squeeze past descenders; as far as I can tell it is solid blocks of granite. It is to Francis, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, "father of inland navigation" 1832. From the top we have wide views, especially up to the House, though its slightly hazy. We can't see Ivinghoe beacon, because its behind something else, it not really being the highest hill around but only the one at the end of the chain. See R's car turn up, and wave to them far down below; they come up, R holding T who has hurt his toe, L gives me lots of detail about a cycle accident. N hot here: she is staying at home to work on her course for training GPs.

Down; to the visitors centre to look at things (inc a stuffed weasel and a stoat, which is noticeably bigger). TE eventually grow bored and want i'creams so R takes them out; DL have to be dragged away eventually. I'creams for all on the edge of the wood - ET looking esp cute - then explore a bit, there is a little lake at this time of year, or maybe we've not been to that bit before. Then, the sun fading, and the chill coming, we head home, arriving about 6: L in our car and E in Robs.

I race M over the easy sudoku (the torygraph has them now: but they call easy gentle) and to my surprise I win by quite a margin. She is still better at the fiendish though.

Stoat: myths of the near future, part II. Takes me till late.

2005/03/27. Sunday. Much colder. Clocks (spring) forward.

I get up first today (ie, before M; Ma is already off at church); downstairs DL are watching "totally spies" which I quite like. They have had b'fast so again my guilty secret goes unseen. Try the griddler... progress, and I am well towards working it out, the top is correct, but I get muddled in the middle. Argh.

Sent out to trim the laurel; kids come out too and help somewhat. There was some thing about a honeysuckle too but I don't get round to that.

Lunch: full meal, excellent. Close (enough) to good behaviour from the kids.

Henry arrives, with a diary-type thing of his trip to NZ in 2004, which of course is of interest to me because of next Dec. His diary is much like my on-line ones, though of course my pics are better.

Rob goes to get J+J because (as Henry points out: I have forgotten!) its the baot race, at 3. It starts a little late, and is exciting: Oxford edge ahead to begin, less than a length; then Cambrdige pull back to near level, then Ox gain on their curve and end up with clear water and win by 2+ lengths. Hooray! D is puzzled who to support: since he lives in Cambridge. I advise him to support Ox, and he does.

And so, afternoon tea with J+J and H. Misc talk as ever. J is getting really rather frail: walks with a stick and needs a hand too. Lots of cakes and scones: in fact too many cakes, or our stomachs are too small. I take JJ back, in Robs car, which is rather more active than ours and with a heavier clutch which confuses me.

Bathtime: M/R do ET; I do DL. They have great fun creating bubbles and pouring them over each others heads, turning round in turns to let the other thwack them. Bedtime: E insists on M taking her up, so she does; but she gives me two kisses in compensation. Upstairs, some kind of sadness occurs.

Soir: play vid of M's concert (and her practice) to RMa; discussion. Read Robs "Gateway" the Brize mag. His editorials astonish, as they did in Inn Touch: "an article without of photo is like a labour cabinet member: not re(a)d". Or: "while the nation struggles to be interested in which conservative party wins the next election...".

2005/03/28. Monday. Becomes sunny.

Why do I write a short weather summary at the head of each line? Mostly because of how it impacts my mood. So to quite some extent what I write there reflects the weather on my mood, or even vice versa, rather than any kind of accurate analytical obs of the weather. Anyway...

Today is Easter monday, but no-one really notices that. We are to leave "at 11" but don't. More tidying of fallen laurels in the back garden, and Rob helps before getting sidetracked by playing football with Toby with two laurel bracnhes stuck in the ground for posts. E comes out later and sticks a whole forest in. Indeed E (and D too) is so cute this morning that my resolve weakens and I propose we stay for the lunchtime picnic in Ashridge. But M is keen to get back to practice and work on her CV so we do go and my moment of weakness comes to naught.

M drives us back; we listen to CD 2 of the Hobbit (again). Home: lunch: quick check of mail/wiki (all sane) then off to allot: 2-6, a long session. Take lawnmower to beautify the grass and just about fill up the compost bin, hopefully it will subside. The weather is lovely - work topless - and at the end, by my count of paces, 43 yards are sane and 34 yards are still in need of attention. "sane" means dug over well or mown grass. The rest is mostly not too bad, but in sore need of digging at least. Plant out 2 rows pots and 1 row garlic.

Home: M is still practicing. Long bath. Soir: wiki misc, check adsense (300+ on friday, from TL post), etc etc.

2005/03/29. Tuesday. Cold.

To work, though not esp early. Feeling somewhat tired, poss cos I didn't get to bed till 12 and didn't sleep till much later, partly cos M didn't come up till then. Ah well. Misc work. Brian Gardner's presentation at 11: 37 years at BAS! 2: where to go? Vacillate. Decide on town in the end, since I'm fuzzy. To Heffers cafe again: with latest McCall-Smith and a Tim Powers. Read about 1/3 of M-S when... a stranger approaches. How rude, to want to share my table, and approach so briskly, not diffident at all, thinks I. But... it is Allan McR. A nice surprise. We chat, on a variety of intellectual topics: he is good for such. Efrons dice; choice; camera obscura on Gt St M's; my cl ch talk; etc. Then: quick look in Ox (nothing) and home (stopping at Ians along the way but he seems to be out). Rest. Knock-knock: who is calling at this time? It is Ian: he just failed to catch me: we discuss contracts: he is to write one up for phase 1 with RS. Start next tues, poss. Good. 14 weeks.

Cut lawns: front and back. Scatter some buffalo dung on the lawn as fertiliser. Will it help? Then out to dig: I have some strawbs from Russ that need to go in (they have been sitting at my office since last weds). Dig over nearest, expand a bit, and emplace: this takes an hour and I am weary. More rest... its a hard life with no kids. M back. We settle to our respective r100's. She has been to Nasreen Dah: excellent: spicy potato cakes, my favourite.

Phone Ma at bedtime: children are happy and so it seems is she!

Soir: misc. M plays. I read In the ocean of night, which is still good. Then wiki/misc.

2005/03/30. Wednesday. Rain.

Up at 9. Slow b'fast while M off to work. I have a free morning but I'm not feeling sprightly... in fact, I vom up. Then I feel somewhat better. Read CG's fluxes-at-70S paper and mail him: will it help our sondes trends? Unlikely. Slow.

M back 2:40 so I head off to pick up infants from Ma. We agreed to meet 1/2 way at the Marston Moretaine forest centre. The trees have grown up a bit since last time: some of the willows up to 5-6 feet. If you were sensible, you would plant the forest then build the visitors centre 10 years later. Inside: hello DE and Ma. They (DE, not Ma) are having a fight over who gets to turn the spindle on a display. The displays are not holding out well: several are now broken. Hey ho. Its all about recycling, forests, bricks, etc. Outside is a faint drizzle so we stay in. DE have been to visit Alice and have 2 apiece: D wants to save his, E is determined to spend hers on a pink purse and will not be dissuaded so M takes her off to do so.

When we have to leave, E is v sad, in tears: partly tiredness, partly leaving Ma. They seem to ahve a good time with her and she has no complaints. This morning to some kind of childs-play-warehouse on the crooked billet ind estate. Fortunately E falls asleep soon so her sad tears stop; D and I listen to CD 2 of the hobbit.

Home: I feel tired. E goes in to M, sad again, and cuddles up and is read cat in the hat. D goes for the computer.

7:15: out to GP meeting in univ arms: misc. Fin 9; back :30; wiki, this, mail, the usual. Need to print some stuff then early bed.

2005/03/31. Thursday. Dull.

Another day in which I feel fairly unwell in the morning, slow in the afternoon, but bright and active in the evening. Which means I end up staying up too late and the cycle repeats...

With kids till 10 while M is off for a piano lesson: it went well, Ilga is pleased with her. To work (via A+C, to get their sigs on myn nom and Andys on his; he is in bed in the conservatory...), in time for coffee. And then of course the kick-off Accent meeting. I start off on the right foot by doing a "difficult" sudoku during the meeting and (with one guess which turns out right) have it solved by the end, helped by a certain amount of idle chit-chat from others leaving me fre to think. After that talk to Aj re poster (needs more sea ice from her) and TLC re misc. Then its time for lunch. Sigh, its a busy life. With PSA and RCAH and Ed King. Then finaly get to read my mail; and home at 2:45.

Sam, Dak (*still here*) and D down the garden, D somewhat annoyed with S/Dak for losing some of the new white playdo, and possibly because he is getting squeezed out between S and Dak at his own house (just guessing). Perhaps unfortunate that Dak was allowed back after lunch. Inside, E and Katie and M are having happy fun with playdo. I get a brief rest then need to find my GP elec stuff then take Sam/K home (Sam v politely saying "thanks for having me"). I go in, and get Penny's sig on AM's form, and check tomorrow is OK.

Then to Cambourne, to hand over the 5 nom papers so far completed. Anne as ever is friendly and helpful whilst sticking absolutely to the limits of the rules. While I'm waiting for the check, look over those left: me; AM-by-me; JG; MB; DT; SE; SN. yes, all present (or not) and correct. Sadly, Simons is *not* all in order: one of his was under 18 (an error in my software to allow that on the roll: must correct). So... decide to post it, then realise time is tight so drive to Bassingbourn and hand it over to Jaq who I find in the driveway. So not home till 5: argh.

Later: Ian comes round (I called but he was out) to say that the works can start on tuesday. OK. That means I (I? of course just I) need to clear out the sheddy bit etc. Decide to make a start, because I can't decide if just all monday will do, or if I have to stay here this weekend. Complicating factor is that if I'm really busy I can skip doing AM's bar hill paper, which I half want to do, but... well anyway. D helps somewhat; I pull stuff out and he takes things down to the garden shed. Which of course needs some sorting out too. Not clear at this stage whether we will need a skip: unlikely though. So after about 1h the bike-shed bit is mostly empty, well perhaps 2/3 would be honest. Then D and I have a quick bonfire (smoke! spreads: not a good evening for it, inversion weather) to get rid of most of rest of the pine. E is now ready for bed and M to go out: E wants to see bonfire so I take her down quickly then read to her. D meanwhile has read his own story and wants a game of ladybirds instead. OK. I experiment near the end by pointing out that the game has no skill: he half grasps the point but not fully.

Do some tidying up, having become quite righteous about it; but the washing up is still there... oh OK I'll do it now. 11:10.

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