You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2008.

It goes like this: On Good Friday there was cake, and a visit to my BIL and SIL in Lincolnshire.

A Cadbury’s caramel choccamocca cake with eggs:

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And a Simnel cake with a difference. It might not look any different, but the taste and texture are divine as the marzipan is chopped into small pieces, frozen and then stirred through the cake mixture before baking. Yum yum:

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Everywhere I’ve been in Yorkshire – and Lincolnshire – people keep saying “it’s too early for Easter!” M’husband looked it up and Easter won’t be this early again for about 50 years (I think). Due to the earliness the weather was very changeable, with patches of sunshine quickly suceeded by snow and sleet clouds blowing up the valley:

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Then, on Easter Sunday, we woke to more snow than we’ve had in ages. I rushed to get up and walk Sparky as experience shows that it won’t last. I could hear water dripping from the eaves and running down the drains as I walked along, but there was still enough snow for that satisfactory ‘creak’ under my wellies.

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I really need to work on my Photoshop skills, as it really wasn’t that dark – but I haven’t got a clue how to lighten up my shots on the computer without m’husband (former press photographer and Photoshop expert) by my shoulder. I also need to work on my weight loss so I have fewer problems with my wellies. I’ve gained so much over the last few years that my wellies are tight round my calves and consequently my socks fall down far too quickly. I had to stop three times in 12 minutes to fish them out of the toe of my boot. The third time I replaced them on my feet, I remembered to tuck my jeans into my socks which gave me a much longer period between sock stops.

Sadly the snow was all gone by lunchtime, so when we went up to m’sister’s house to help plant her new hedge this was the scene:

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That’s sons 3, 2 and 1 messing about with sticks and spades under the bit of existing hedge. I was really pleased that they were straight out there and playing, as they spend so much time fiddling about with computers that I worry they will forget how to enjoy being outside – but no worries. No. 2 son is the townboy, rather like his dad, and the two of them disappeared inside after a while but then brought us out mugs of tea – although they weren’t too hot after the walk across the field! I was about to take some pics of the ponies when the batteries on my camera packed in, so another time…

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I reckon I’ve got my research questionnaire nailed, and I’ve submitted it with my ethics form. I should be able to start handing them out as soon as I’ve got all the photocopying and randomisation of scenario allocation done. I have to get a minimum of 80 (preferably around 100) participants, so I’m going to be haunting mother and toddler groups looking for women who’ve given birth in the last three years.

Much more interesting stuff: Had another great walk with Sparky and Willis. We went up the old track through Lady Wood, and into Oliver Wood and Jordon Wood. I used to ride in the last two all the time – about 25 years ago – and I had forgotten how weird they can feel. Very nice one second, then you go round a corner and nearly fall into 1) what looks like a rather ancient outdoor swimming pool, lined with mildewed brick/ tiles and filled with deep green water 2) knee deep mud because the path has turned into a drainage ditch 3) a sheer sided pond full of black water so you can’t see the bottom or 4) a slippy slidey muddy path which is so well used by horses, and shaded by trees, that it never dries out, even at the height of summer. The dogs loved it, of course, but I felt much better once we’d worked our way round to the edge and I could see the sky. Here are the pictures of our trek:

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That’s Willis, at the bottom of Lady Wood. We’ve walked alongside the railway line, where “I don’t know my own name’ Willis is kept firmly on the lead, but now we’re into the woods he is delighted to be let loose.

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This is the path round the edge of the wood. Willis is sprinting back to me as I have a pocketful of dog treats. In fact, once he realised the treats were there, he stuck closer to me than Sparky did.

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Here he is again, because I thought he looked so funny skidding along the stone flags.

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I’ve put this pic in because it shows the old roads. The hillside these woods are on has many of these tracks, with two rows of flagstones (where the cartwheels would run) and an earth gutter in between where a horse would walk. It seems strange that none of them turned into modern roads. In many places one line of flags has been swallowed by encroaching hedges, so it becomes a single file path.

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We’re out of Lady Wood and crossing the fields at the top. Sparky and Willis took the opportunity to act like mad March hares.

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My girl, looking gorgeous in the sunlight.

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Looking back at Lady Wood. See that dint between the two hilltops? That’s the Dewsbury-Batley valley.

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Willis doing his clown impersonation.

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This spot is on the edge of Jordon Wood. This whole hillside (which my grandad used to refer to as “round back o’t’moon) was mined extensively a hundred years ago or so, and you come across occasional slag heaps with mature trees growing out of them.

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And they have these craters in the middle of them. They don’t have the alien beauty of the china clay lakes in Cornwall, but they’re pretty other-worldly, all the same.

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Sparky and Willis decided it was the perfect place for a five minute madness. See Willis’ spots? He has had his thick dirty white coat stripped out, and the spots appeared in his undercoat.

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 More canine craziness – I can assure you, they weren’t using any teeth. Just gumming one another to death. Plus I liked the light on this one. When I look at my photos – and compare them to those taken by the Pioneer Woman – I seem to live in a sort of dim half light. But then, if I lived somewhere brighter the line between my eyebrows would be even deeper as I would spend my whole life with my eyes screwed up.

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The path leading away from Jordon Wood. I really like this path, and the trees and bushes which line it. Lovely light.

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Further down the same path. See what I mean about tracks which have turned into footpaths? Although this one is made of cinders or brick chips rather than flagged.

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A final pic before we headed back through Lady Wood. Sparky found a really big stick – and wasn’t prepared to share it.

My garden is growing. Things in the woods are growing. Here we go:

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I’ve forgotten what this plant is called – I bought it several years ago and it didn’t take to the spot I put it in so never flowered. I finally got round to moving it in the autumn, and here it is in all its glory.

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That’s a close up of my skimmia bush, which I planted years ago and it loves the spot its in, so much so that I have to keep lopping bits off so it doesn’t shade my (too small) veg bed. I love the sweet, subtle scent of it as I walk by.

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Here’s a euphorbia (I think; sister still has all my plant books so I can’t identify) which I came across when walking Sparky. It’s a garden plant over here, but this one has managed to break free and is growing under a row of willows at the side of the old Grange Road – now a footpath.

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And one other thing that keeps on growing – my nephew Lars, now one year old, having a laugh with his daddy.

Took myself and my research project to see my supervisor, who was pleased with the way things are shaping up, helped me to finish off the ethics form and took a load off my mind by pointing out that she wouldn’t expect me to remember how to run all the stats. This has been worrying me: I get great marks when learning how to run the analysis and interpret the results, but then six months pass when I have nothing to do with ANOVAs, MANOVAs and multiple regression and I’ve forgotten it all.

My plan for the week up to Easter: finish off ethics form and questionnaire, and start finding my research population; encapsulate all reading so far in a structured plan for my Introduction section, and start writing the Method section. Then take Easter weekend off and RELAX with husband, sons and dog.

Here are some photos. First, rhubarb growing in the garden:

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Second, the Bakewell heart tart I made for m’husband for Valentine’s Day:

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And third, and possibly most beautiful, the parish church on the day we woke up to fields and trees full of rime:

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1. Stop faffing about on the internet.

2. Have a bath.

3. Visit supermarket for cake ingredients and petrol. May treat myself to a copy of Horse & Hound. Go into Batley to florist for a decoration for a 21st birthday cake which I made yesterday.

4. Walk the dog.

5. Bake sponge cake, whip cream etc – m’father is yearning for a sponge cake made to this recipe: three eggs; the weight of three eggs in flour; the weight of two eggs in sugar, and a tablespoon of hot water. He gave my mother’s effort 7 out of 10, and her friend’s effort 10 out of 10, so family honour is at stake.

6. Fill out that blasted ethics form for the blasted research project.

7. Find out who’s coming to tonight’s antenatal group.

8. Assemble sausage rolls for youngest brother’s girlfriend’s birthday tea. I say ‘assemble’ rather than ‘make’ as I buy the flaky pastry and the sausages. All I have to do is roll out the pastry, cut it into four strips and smear on Dijon mustard; skin sausages and roll them a little thinner, then stick everything together with a little beaten egg and milk, chop into a convenient sized roll, glaze and bung in a hot oven for 20 minutes.

9. Pack car with teaching stuff for tonight.

10. Go to my parents’ house to eat the birthday tea.

11. Teach.

I need to fit the odd conversation with my husband in there somewhere. Not sure where. And put the guinea pigs in their run so they can have a good go at the spring grass. Here they are:

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That’s Charlie with her bottom to the camera, and Cocoa poking her head out of the shelter.

I hate my research project – but then I think everyone knows that by now. Have I mentioned that I am not enjoying this AT ALL? It feels totally bloody pointless as far as my life and future is concerned.

 So. A picture:

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 That’s a pair of the ponies who live out on the tops, and was taken on an incredibly mild day in February. Since then we’ve had landscapes coated in rime, gale force winds and yet more rain. All bets are off on how good a summer we get.

Ignore the previous post about getting some resolution. I am not enjoying this project At All and feel like I really really don’t belong in a research environment because I am simply Not Competent, or Focused, or tough enough. I don’t like it when I feel disapproved of, and I want to say “f*** you” (pardon my language, but I’m mad), walk away and find somewhere where I feel appreciated and part of a team. Or maybe I just need a different supervisor – but it’s too late for that now.

Today’s picture:

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That’s me, out with a couple of sons, walking my mum’s dog, Fly. It’s a few years ago but I looked at the pic this morning and got a good feeling – an ‘out in the fields’ feeling. Which I could do with more of right now.

Okay, whinging over with (for now…). Off to wash up and do more reading.