Some of my cells got infected this weekend, which meant that although I still had to work, I didn’t have to work for the whole day on Saturday or Sunday.  So I got to do some beading!  I still haven’t finished the two pieces I started last weekend, but I have made a couple of necklaces using techniques I picked up in one of the classes.

Gold and silver herringbone plait

This necklace was made using three Ndebele spirals plaited together.  I’m quite pleased with it, but it took a while to do!

Brown and gold RAW spiral 

This one uses spirals based on a strip of right angle weave, and a venetian glass bead. 

Neither of these are great photos, I’ll have to ask Dad to redo them for me 😉


Daventry was fantastic.  Learnt some new things, met up with old friends, made new friends, spent FAR too much money, promised to write an article for the Journal, and got some work for the Guild done (mostly working on proposed new things for the website).  I didn’t actually finish anything in the two classes I took (Twist and Twine with Liz Thornton and Embellished Peyote with Isobelle Bunting), but I will post pictures when I finally do finish them.

It was then back to work, and preparing for a big meeting with my boss yesterday, presenting on all the work I’ve done here since I started back in August ’05, as my contract was due to expire end of this month.  I think the meeting went well, especially as I’ve now been told they’ve managed to get me another month’s funding, and are trying for more!  So I won’t be kicked out onto the streets of Galway just yet.  This is good news, as I’m waiting to hear about some funding and some other jobs I’ve applied for, so at least I can keep a roof over my head while I’m waiting to hear.

Bead Journal Project

This looks very interesting.  I’m quite tempted to give it a go….

Busy, busy, busy

It’s been quiet on here as I’ve been very busy for the last few weeks (months!).  My contract finishes at the end of this month, so I’m frantically working to try and squeeze all the experiments I can into the remaining time.  Of course I’m not helped by the fact that the FACS machine has been out of commission for the last 3 weeks, and I need it to separate my cells, so I can get RNA samples to RT-PCR with.  It was supposed to be fixed last week, so I was booked to use it today, but the experimental officer has just broken the bad news to me that the engineer wasn’t able to fix it and is still working on it.  ARRRGH!!!!!!!!

When I’m not at work, swearing at cells (and anyone foolish enough to try and talk to me 👿 ), then I’m beading like crazy at home.  I was hoping to enter the Beadworkers Guild Challenge this year, but the deadline rolled around and I was still working on the piece.  Right now I’m focussing on finishing a piece I was asked to do for a book (I’ll post a link once it’s out), and a couple of other things I’ve promised people.  And then it’s the Great British Bead Show this week – totally looking forward to it, flights booked, taking a couple of classes – just not the best timing.

On the other hand, Marie finished here last week, and flew back to Spain today.  I was sorry to see her go, but we gave her a send-off with parties and lunch time meets and a lazy coffee session sitting down by the harbour (the weather was FANTASTIC last week).  I also finally made it out to Kilcolgan to visit Valerie and see her 3 month old baby on Friday, so I might be whinging but there have been relaxing breaks and walks in the sunshine mixed in there.  And I really am looking forward to the Great British Bead Show.

If they could just fix the FACS machine…..


Mum and Dad are travelling again, this time visiting Memphis and then New York.  This of course means that Wilbeary is writing in his blog again, and apparently eating and drinking enough for three bears.

So, having just found this clip I’m posting it for Wilbeary (who I believe to be a fan of Rupert)

The cat’s new home


Apparently Mum just doesn’t have the heart to throw it out (and it does kind of suit her).

Happy Easter!

On Thursday we had a lunchtime seminar at the university by Stanley Prusiner, who won a Nobel Prize in 1997 for his work on prions.  That makes three Nobel Prize winners I’ve seen talk, as Tim Hunt gave a presentation at the MC2 conference I attended in Manchester, and Paul Nurse was the invited speaker at my graduation!

Then I flew back into the UK on Friday, bright and early in the morning.  Dad’s been in New York for the last week, and we met at Luton Airport to catch the train home together.  He’s posher than me, and gets to fly business class, so I met him in the business lounge for a quick breakfast before we caught our train.  Nice to see how the other half lives!

We spent today at Patchings preparing for the bear fair tomorrow.  We’ve never had so many stallholders before so we’ve had to expand into a second building!  We’re all set up and ready to go, so hopefully tomorrow will be a good day.

Sick car

My car is poorly sick, so I’m stuck this morning phoning round garages to try and find somewhere that’s prepared to take the problem on.  As soon as I tell them it’s a Smart they refuse to even look at it!

Free books!

I love to read, and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t able to.  One of the first things I do on moving to a new place is to find and join the local library, and I have to keep a strict rein on myself in bookshops (especially slightly labyrinthine second-hand book shops like Charlie Byrnes), so I’m thrilled to have just found the Baen free library.  Based on the list of authors, and previous books that I’ve read/owned from the same publishers, I’d guess that they’re mostly SF/F, but that’s fine by me!

New book

I spent the weekend in Nottingham, where Dad kindly spent some time counselling my computer, so that it now no longer feels the need to shut down if I ignore it for too long (although I had to compromise and remove my screensaver).  I was also able to pick up my post, including my brand new and shiny external hard drive (for storage and so I can The Beader's Colour Mixing Directoryback-up everything in case my computer does decide to die on me), my copy of Art Doll Quarterly, and – most exciting of all – my copy of The Beaders Colour Mixing Directory by Sandra Wallace.  Sandra is a very nice lady I’ve taken a class with at the Great British Bead Show in 2005, I’ve bumped into her a few times since, and this book is fabulous.  It’s clear, well laid out, and I think it’s a great introduction to colour theory as well as offering a wide range of suggested colour schemes to get you started.  And it’s got 6 of my pieces included in it!  In fact, to demonstrate the colour schemes in action it’s got a wide range of beadwork, mostly (if not all) from British beaders, which makes a lovely change when so many beading books come out of America.

I had my life painting class again last night, where for the first time I tried to introduce colour into the painting (having spent a load of money on some new acrylics this weekend).  Unfortunately, I decided it was probably best to start off with a limited palette, and the painting is still grey!  I’m going to have to work on this…

Being back in Nottingham I also took the opportunity to hit Hotel Chocolat, where I stocked up on truffles, waffles, chocolate gemstones, dark orange chocolate bars, a small tray of gianduja, a small tray of mint fondants, and a small tray of whisky truffles.  As I still have some chocolate left over from my shipment from home, I’m maintaining that this isn’t a lack of self-control on my part – just a reflection on their horrendous postage costs to Ireland!

Computer’s back

I’ve had my computer back from the clinic, where it’s been brainwashed and is now happily convinced of the existence of both the DVD drive and the CD-W drive.  Unfortunately it’s developed the new habit of crashing whenever I’ve not paid attention to it for a little while (including halfway through any radio programmes I happen to be listening to).  Time to take it home with me and pester my poor father I think…

Poor computer

My laptop has been getting ever dottier, censoring what CDs I’m allowed to look at, and it finally reached the point where it refused to even acknowledge that I have a CD drive.  I’ve tried plugging in my external CD-W drive, but apparently that doesn’t exist either.  So I’ve given in and dropped the poor thing off at the PC Clinic yesterday.  Unfortunately they can’t look at it before the weekend so I’ve GOT NO COMPUTER AT HOME!!!

I’ve no idea what I’m going to do with myself – what did I do before computers!


I got a parcel from home today!  I love getting parcels (even ones packed in old chinese shoe boxes, and wrapped with enough sellotape to double the weight)!  And this one was great, it contained:

I always approve of parcels that contain chocolate.

The truffles have been met with an enthusiastic reception at work so far, but I didn’t manage to hack through the layers of sellotape until late in the day.  This being a University rather than a proper workplace most people leave early on Friday, so I’ve not had to fight too much to defend my chocs.  I’m now debating whether I take them home with me (where they probably won’t last the weekend), or leave them here to share out on Monday like a good girl….

Another beaded box

One of my Christmas presents was ‘Little Bead Boxes’ by Julia Pretl, and I’ve just finished one of the patterns from the book (with a bit of a colour change).

Beaded box


I’ve started going to life class again, but this time I’ve signed up for a course of painting.  I usually draw with pencil, and the idea of trying to work in brushes and paint scared me, so I figured I had to give it a go.  I had the second session yesterday and I’m really enjoying it – it’s difficult, but great fun!  The tutor is evil though (ok, really he’s a nice bloke called Robin), yesterday he took my small size 6 brush off me, and fished through my brushes until he came up with a fairly coarse 1/2 inch flat brush.  After the brush I had been using it felt huge!  I’m also not allowed to use a pencil to do a sketch beforehand any more 8O.  I keep reminding myself ‘I wanted a challenge, I wanted a challenge…’

Money, money, money

I’ve had a nice suprise this week, as it turns out I was supposed to get a pay rise ages ago, and I’ve just been given the rise, along with the missing back pay!  My credit card is going to heave a huge sigh of relief.

Our poor cat is getting a lot of hassle at home about not pulling her weight, after Mum and Dad saw this article about a cat chasing a bear up a tree in New Jersey.

I rented Superman Returns this weekend.  It was good fun, but a bit too slick.  Lois was too young, and Lex Luthor’s Evil Plan was a bit silly (although, thinking about it, that’s probably a good thing), but overall I definitely enjoyed it.

It’s submitted!

I’ve been holed up for the last week or so, desperately trying to finish a grant proposal so I still have a job after May.  The deadline is 5pm today, and I’ve just submitted it!!!  My boss is currently off work (due to have her baby any day now), but she’s been amazingly helpful, reading through and correcting my drafts, and talking to me on the phone every day this week.  Fingers crossed now that they offer me the money…

I’m at a bit of a loose end now, it’s the same feeling I always used to get after exams – you’ve been focused on one thing for so long, and all of a sudden the pressure’s gone.

Panda sneezing

Someone at BritishBeaders sent this link, and it’s given me a giggle this morning.  I love how shocked the mum looks afterward!


I’ve been quiet on here for a while, but I’ve begun back-posting to fill in the gaps.  I’ve also got a new look for the blog!  This wasn’t entirely voluntary, as I recently upgraded and while exploring the new options and themes available to me I accidently deleted the theme I was using – both from the site and the back-up on my computer! (ok, it was less an accident and more a… misunderstanding).  I like the new theme though, and it’s very easy to customise the layout, so I’m playing around with what extras I’d like to add in to the sidebar.

Budapest – day 2

Woke up this morning to the glorious view across Fisherman’s Bastion and over the Danube, and had a leisurely breakfast in the Executive lounge – I could so get used to this.  We then checked out of the hotel, leaving our bags there while we went for a mooch around Várhegy, following the walking routes in the Eyewitness guide.


It was very quiet on the streets, and not many people were around.  As we made our way towards the Palace though, we saw more people, and were even in time to see what seemed to be the changing of the guard at Sándor Palace (offices and official residence of the President of Hungary).

Changing of the guard

The view from around the Palace was fantastic – or would have been if it wasn’t so hazy.  We could still see across the Danube to the Széchenyi Lánchíd and the Parliament buildings.

The view from the palace

Mátyás FountainWe carried on with our mooch around the Palace grounds, taking in the architecture such as the Mátyás Fountain.  Apparently this fountain tells the legend of Szép Ilonka, a beautiful peasant girl who met the king while he was hunting incognito, and fell in love.  She then died of a broken heart after discovering his identity and realising he could never marry her.  Unfortunately, once I took the photos off my camera I realised that the one part of the fountain I’d cut out of my photo was poor Ilonka!  (You can just see part of her dress on the right of the photo).  I’m not sure what she saw in him – he looks a bit full of himself to me.

By now we were heading back to the hotel to collect our bags, but we needed sustenance after our gruelling day of ambling around, so we repaired to Ruszwurm for cake and a coffee.  They’ve been trading on the same site since 1827, and make what are probably the best cakes in Budapest (I’m conducting tests of this theory every time we visit).


By now I’d been getting texts from Dad, updating me on his and Mum’s progress, and suggesting we meet for kolbasz at the Christmas market in Vörösmarty tér.  So myself and Jo collected our bags and checked in at the Gellért, before walking over to join the others.  The market was fabulous, with plenty of food and crafts for sale.



Each year the windows of Gerbeaud (a cake shop on the square) are turned into an advent calender, with copies of pictures by contempory artists (there’s an exhibition of the originals at the same time), so after a quick look around the market and some cups of mulled wine we all enjoy a bit more mulled wine and a bite to eat while watching them open todays window.

Advent calender

After this we watched some dancing in the square, part of the programme for the market.


It was getting pretty cold by now, and we headed back to the hotel, where we made the re-acquaintance of the bar staff, and of our favourite waiter.

Budapest – day 1

Got up at 5 o’clock this morning – having not had any sleep the night before.  I was up too late packing, and then couldn’t sleep through a combination of excitement and panic that I was going to oversleep and miss yet another plane.  Mum and Dad phoned me from the airport to make sure I’d got up (I’m going to get a bad reputation….), and so that Mum could commiserate with me – as they had to get up at 2 in the morning she hadn’t slept either.  After that everything went smoothly, I checked in for my flight from Galway in good time, fell asleep almost before the end of the safety talk, and didn’t wake up until we hit the tarmac at Luton.  At that point I realised I didn’t have my grandparent’s phone number with me, but I was able to find it easily enough using the internet access at the airport.

Grandad came and picked me up, and I had a very nice day with them.  As they live quite close to Luton, and I had most of a day to kill until my flight to Budapest, they kindly took me in and fed me.  Jean joined us for lunch, and Nick popped by as well, giving me an opportunity to be horrified at how tall he’s grown (in my mind he’ll always be 10 :D).  I also managed to drop off a bottle of Connemara whiskey I was sneaking into the house for Grandad’s Christmas present.

Fisherman's BastionI met up with Jo back at the airport, and we made the rest of the journey without a hitch.  For the first night we’re taking advantage of some of the Hilton points Dad’s built up that needed to be used.  We’ve got a room on the Executive floor of the Budapest Hilton up on Várhegy (Castle Hill) with a fantastic view of Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya).

The Hilton is a strange hotel.  It’s been built incorporating the remains of a medieval monastry, but is itself quite a modern design.  While the room is fantastic, and the hotel looks attractive from the front, blending in with the local buildings.  It’s when you get to the back (the side facing Fisherman’s Bastion and over the Danube) that it looks… odd.  In the photo below, the Hilton is on the left.

Fisherman's Bastion and the Hilton

It just looks out of place to me, when compared to the fairytale buildings around it.