Wales

I’ve just got back from Pembrokeshire, where I was visiting a couple of friends I used to share a house with in Liverpool.  Caroline is now a vet working at a practice in Wales, and as we hadn’t seen each other since Ruth’s wedding (5 years ago now!) she invited myself and Ruth to come and visit her.  I’d do a full post on what we got up to, but Wilbeary came with me and he’s pretty much said it all (he’s off to Copenhagen next – he’s becoming a very well travelled bear).  I’ll just post this picture of the two of them at the Blue Lagoon yesterday (an old quarry flooded by the sea in Pembrokeshire National Park).

Caroline and Ruth at the Blue Lagoon

Cat sites

Ok, so I’m a sucker for a funny website – especially one with pictures of kittens - and I just got sent a whole batch of them…

Review: Juvenile felis catus

Kitten standard configuration

CAT user manual

He’s off again

Wilbeary’s off on his travels again, this time to Hungary.  Mum, Dad and the bear are driving there via London and Frankfurt, touring some of the country, and coming back via Nuremburg and Brussels.  As always he’ll post about the trip on his blog.

June’s finished!!!!

Finished page for JuneOk, it may be August, but I’ve finally finished my June page!  I’ve decided to mount them into a spiral bound sketchbook I’ve bought, with heavy weight watercolour paper.

Still working on June’s page

June's Bead Journal pageStill running behind, but it’s coming on.  I’ve finished the mermaid, and am filling in the water with spirals of seed beads and a few freshwater pearls.

 

Moving back to Britain

It’s finally come, I’ve moved back to the UK (Nottingham to be precise).  The movers were here until 2.30 this morning, and I had to leave for Dublin to catch the ferry at about 4.30am, so in the end I didn’t bother with going to bed.  I just gave the flat a quick clean, had a shower and set off.  I was fine until I got on the ferry, when I crashed a bit.  Happily though, the ferry still had cabins available and with an 8 hour trip from Dublin to Liverpool I managed a few hours sleep.  I managed to stay awake long enough to take some pictures of Dublin as it disappeared over the horizon.

Leaving Dublin

I’d definitely recommend P&O along this route.  If you take the Swift to Holyhead the trip is only about an hour and a half, but this route was a lot cheaper, the ferry was much more comfortable, and two meals were included in the price!  I also only had to drive from Liverpool to Nottingham (about an hour and a half to two hours) after we docked instead of the 4/5 hour trip from Holyhead.

I’m back home now, and looking forward to a good nights sleep!

Galway Arts Festival

The streets of Galway are loads of fun at the moment, as the Arts Festival began on Monday.  It’s a real shame I have to leave tomorrow!

Painter Costumes Musicians Living statue

Beaded Bear

Beaded bearI’m going to be tutoring at the Patchings Art Centre Childrens Activities, so I’ve been trying various things trying to come up with a suitable project.  I thought this little bear was rather cute (turned out to take too much time to be used for the activities though).

Final day out

My last full weekend living in Ireland (I leave next Saturday), and it was a beautiful day when I woke up so I decided to take advantage of it and take myself out for the day.  I started by driving west into Connemara to Spiddal, partly because it’s a nice drive, but I also wanted to pay a visit to Spiddal Craft Village.

Spiddal beach

While there is a sandy stretch at Spiddal Beach, a lot of it is much more interesting – streams, rock pools, and a bit of an outcrop to scramble over.

Spiddal Craft Village

Ceardlann (Spiddal Craft Village) is always worth a look around.  While I was there I bought some fantastic candles, and drooled over the work of one of the artists (I always love her work, but I can’t afford it).

View from the road

I then drove back along the coast road towards Galway.  This is a view from the coast road near to the bottom of the road I live on.  Everytime I take this route home from work I remind myself to photograph this view one day, and I’ve finally managed it in my last week here!

Signpost in Ballyvaughan

I then followed the coast road round the tip of Galway Bay, heading for the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.  I had to photograph this signpost in Ballyvaughan on the way though – they really make the signposts work hard in this part of Ireland.

Looking back down the switchbacks

Driving into the Burren you can go pretty high, and this switchback road (2 bends of which are just visible in the picture) is always fun to drive along.  Once you get to the top there are spaces to pull over and enjoy the view back towards the bay in the distance, with the limestone pavements rising up to either side.

Cliffs of Moher visitor centre

I finally reached my destination, the Cliffs of Moher.  I’ve been a couple of times before, but each time the visitor centre was a Portacabin while they were working on building the new one.  It’s finished, and I really wanted to visit before I left Ireland.  I think the new centre is fantastic, it blends into the side of the hill like a hobbit hole with some new exhibitions I enjoyed going round.

Cliffs of Moher

O'Brien's Tower

Everytime I visit the cliffs I can’t resist taking loads of photos, especially as this was the first time I’d visited when it didn’t rain!

Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara

I then enjoyed a leisurely drive back to Galway, following the coast road on the Co. Clare side of the bay – I love driving through the middle of the Burren, but wanted to see the views along this road as well.  My last stop of the day was in Kinvara, another place I’ve been meaning to stop in and take photos for the last two years!  I was taking these photos of Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara just as the sun was beginning to set.

BJP June progress

Yes, I know it’s July, but I’m running horribly behind…  Being back in the UK for the weekend, I deliberately only brought what I needed to work on the page, and managed to get some done on Sunday.  I was then stranded in the UK (again!), as my flight was cancelled due to a technical fault, and the next available seat was on a flight for tomorrow.  So I’ve been busily working on it today, and got lots more done.

BJP June progress

She’s actually further along than this, I’ve completely finished the tail, added some more hair and started on the water.  Hopefully I’ll get her finished and July’s page started before the end of the month!

Tour de France

I had to go into London today for a meeting, and when I set off home was in time to see some of the Tour de France taking place around Trafalgar.

Cyclists on the Mall

They came speading down the Mall into Trafalgar Square, before turning down Whitehall.

Cycling down Whitehall

I hung around for a while watching, there were tv screens hung on the front of the National Portrait Gallery, with commentary being broadcast.  Along with the crowds of people this made for a good atmosphere!  It was so crowded that when I went to catch the tube to St. Pancras the station was closed briefly until the platforms were less crowded!  Never mind, the weather was lovely so I enjoyed hanging around Piccadilly Circus for a little.

Piccadilly Circus

Rainbow

Rainbow

One advantage of living in a rainy country – we do get good rainbows 🙂

Last day

It’s my last day at work.  Very sad 😥

ETA: Well, my official last day.  As it turns out it looks like I’ll be in and out next week, so doesn’t really feel like my last day…

June Journal progress

June Journal page

As you can see there is still a lot of work to go (and only 2 days of June left!), but I’m quite pleased so far.  The ceramic face I was going to use was a pale blue, very serene, moon-like face, decorated with spirals.  It’s very lovely, but it was totally wrong for this page, and I’m much happier with the beaded face.  I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to do her hair yet.  It was going to be fringing coming out of the piece – especially as the ceramic face would also have been raised so it would have looked odd to have everything else flat – but now I’m wondering.  I might go for a half and half type approach, with some strands embroidered flat on the fabric, but a few coming out of the page.

Last week

So here I am, at the beginning of my last week working for the NCBES!  Strange feeling, as I got up and came into work today same as any other day for the last two years, but this is it.  My last Monday as an employee here.

Here’s hoping one of the jobs I’ve been applying for comes through soon…

One of the things I won’t be missing though is working weekends.  I think I’ve had two weekends completely off since Easter, what with working with the bioreactor (an evil thing where the experiments need daily monitoring) and trying to get enough experiments done on it that we’ll be able to get a paper published.  Happily, I managed to keep it down to an hour or two on Saturday, and a couple of hours yesterday, so I still had plenty of time working on my Bead Journal Project page.  I started beading her on Friday evening, got loads done on Saturday, and then spent Sunday largely ripping and re-doing her face.  I was going to use a ceramic face, but once I’d attached it and beaded most of her upper body I realised it looked completely wrong.  I’ve now beaded her a face, and although it’s still not quite right (it’s a bit Barbie-like) I’m happy with it.

Bead Journal Project

So I bit the bullet, and joined the Bead Journal Project (you can find the blog and info about the participants here). I’m way behind already, as I’ve not even started June’s page, but I finally did some sketching last night to get it roughly laid out.

Sketch for the page for June

This was really an excuse for me to play with my new drawing tablet, which I’ve not had the chance to mess around with until now. I’m still very much getting used to it (it seems odd to be drawing with a pen, but having to look up at the computer screen at the same time), but this was fun, and I think I’m going to find it useful and enjoy working with it.

The idea of the Journal project is to make one beaded page per month for a year, using any technique you like, but beads must be incorporated somewhere on each ‘page’. I’m starting with bead embroidery, which is something I’ve played around with, but not done a huge amount of before. I’d like to improve my embroidery skills in general, and try out some new (to me) techniques I like the look of such as stumpwork and ribbon embroidery. So I’m hoping that by taking part in the project I’ll actually DO these things instead of just thinking about them!

We’re supposed to pick a standard size/shape for our pages, and I’m going with 5 3/4″ square. This is because I’m planning on turning the pages into a book when I’m finished, and I already had a kit including covers and some paper pages. It also seems like a size that suits me – I wanted something that I was realistically going to complete in a month around my ‘real’ work and other committments, but also something reasonably large so I had space to play around in. I’m also going with a loose theme of ‘Faces’. I keep picking up beads, cabochons and buttons with faces in them, so I’m finally going to try using some up. My aim is to incorporate a face somewhere in each page (even if it’s only tiny!). The face for this page is going to be a ceramic cab I bought from Designer Cabochons at the Great British Bead Show.

Positive thoughts

My work computer is now fully fixed and running at full speed (hooray!), so I’m staying at work to finally finish going through ALL of my emails.  I’ve been skimming them, and trying to keep on top of stuff, but quite a few have piled up.  I’m also hanging around because it’s summer student season here, which means the flow hoods in TC are all booked up until 6 or 7, and I need to get into one to feed my cells.  While I’m waiting I’m practising my positive thinking as I set up my first ever Real-Time PCR plate today, and I’m running it overnight.  Hope it works, hope it works, hope it works….

COMPUTER!!!

I’m on a computer!  Ok, this might not sound like much, but I’ve been without one for about a week now.  My personal laptop is having problems (it works fine once it’s started, but it takes me about 30min-1 hour to get it started properly), and when I came back into work on Monday (after 4 days at home for the festival) I discovered my work computer had decided to break down.  They really don’t like you not paying attention to them do they?  Anyway, computer services have managed to get my computer running again (well, limping anyway), and they’re hoping to fix it properly in a week or so once the right part’s come in.

Hooray! The camera’s working!

Quick pictures post, while the camera and computer are playing with me.

A photo of a bracelet

This is a bracelet based on a pattern in the February 2007 issue of Bead and Button.

A picture of a red herringbone spiral necklace

A picture of a gold herringbone spiral necklace

And these are spirals using herringbone in seed beads and triangles

Here should be beading

As the festival is looming ever nearer, I’m beading like a fiend in order to build up my stocks whenever I’m not in work.  Happily, my local video rental place obviously heard that this was going to happen, so they’ve introduced DVD box sets to rent for a week at a time, so I’m working my way through Lost (which I’d heard a lot about, but never seen.  It seems pretty good so far).  I’ve done some new necklaces and bracelets (still playing with the techniques learnt at Daventry), but unfortunately my camera seems to have joined the ranks of Electrical Equipment I Own That Hates Me.  Well, it’s possibly my rechargable batteries or my battery recharger that’s actually bust.  So I can add my camera to:

  • My laptop – this time it’s the cooling system that’s acting up.  Apparently an easy fix I should be able to sort out myself, but until then I have to turn it on, ignore the error messages until the fan finally stutters into life, turn the computer off, give it a minute and start it up.  Then everything works fine.
  • My DVD recorder – which believes that time is an arbitary constraint, not amazingly helpful when setting up a timed recording.
  • My printer – not an electrical fault, but the plastic thingy stopping the ink cartridges from escaping tends to pop open half-way through printing a document, which gives the printer a panic attack.  This problem soon to be fixed with Duck Tape.
  • My washing machine – tends to err on the side of caution when deciding if the door is shut securely enough to start washing.  (Ok, only a little fault, and considering I’ve never lived anywhere with my own washing machine before I’m not complaining too loud on this one.)

Otherwise though, life is good.  Still coming to work every day, but over the last week everything’s been working so I’m happy.  We’ve got what the radio described as ‘gale-force breezes’, but the sun is shining, and the Bay looks beautiful.