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Trans-Siberian Railway

In about 48 hrs Jon and I will be leaving for a month-long Trans-Siberian Railway trip with my dad and brother. Which is pretty exciting. Assuming I can find internet access anywhere between Moscow and Beijing (which is by no means certain) I will be doing an online travel journal, here:


So keep an eye on that and, technology allowing, text and photos will appear there as we go.

I will have my phone with me, but please don't call while I'm away unless you really need me urgently! I will be checking my email when I have internet access but, as mentioned above, I simply have no idea how often that might be.

See you all in a month! ;)


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In an attempt to post on slightly happier matters, I am pleased to report that Jon and I have already acquired another doggie, somewhat sooner than expected.

Her name is Maggie, and she's a 13 month old Weimaraner.

Maggie's owner's daughter was suddenly taken very ill, so her owner has had to go to Liverpool (our nearest hospital for major things) and will probably be there at least 6 weeks, maybe longer, and the future is very uncertain. They decided it was unfair to try and keep Maggie, as at her age she needs a lot of attention, and also she gets very lonely when left alone, and they had no-one she could go to and be happy. They got the news about their daughter 9am Friday, called the MSPCA on Saturday morning after Maggie had had one very unhappy day mostly alone (including a bit of escapology through a window!), and we went to pick her up Saturday late afternoon as they were flying to Liverpool at 7am on Sunday. So it all happened very quickly! The MSPCA were keen for us to take her as she needed a home IMMEDIATELY, and they know we ware good people they could trust to take her straight away without worrying about home visits, etc, and I grew up with a Weimaraner (a lovely dog by the name of Isla) so have a big soft spot for them and was overjoyed to be able to help out.

Maggie spent most of yesterday peeing and pooing on the floor, which wasn't the most auspicious start, but she is young, possibly not fully housetrained, and was obviously very nervous arriving at a new house, poor girl. But I'm pleased to say that, a little over 24 hours later, she seems to be settling in nicely. We went for a walk today, started to teach her to play fetch, which she is already getting the hang of, she didn't go spare when shut in the kitchen to dry off when we got back, and we can let her off the lead and feel reasonably confident she will come back to us. Not bad progress for 1 day! She has peed in the house once today, but not for several hours (I hesitate to say that, as I'm sure it will be a case of "famous last words") so I'm hoping we're over the worst of that already.....

She had fleas(!) so I've de-flead both her and Barney. Last night she went nuts trying to get out of the kitchen (we had to lock the door as she can work door handles, and the door has many scars to prove how keen she was to leave!), but we've discovered she loves sitting in front of the aga keeping warm, so I'm hopeful she'll be a bit more settled this evening.

Right now she is cuddled up next to me on the floor, under a blanket - she really loves keeping super warm! Barney was the other side of me, but he has got too hot and wandered off to cool down.

On the whole the two of them are getting on very well. They play together, which is very lovely, and is helping to cheer Barney up, although he, like us, is obviously still rather sad when he doesn't have something to distract him. We'll all get over it, but it will take time - at the moment we still keep expecting to see Jake and being surprised when he's not there, and having a second dog is actually making that a bit worse, as we tend to find ourselves calling for Jake rather than poor Maggie!

When Maggie is fully settled in - which I expect to take several months - we will probably look to get a third dog. I wish, for Barney, that we had got a third dog while Jake was still with us, as he would have been less sad now Jake has gone. We won't make that mistake again! For now, we need to concentrate on getting Maggie sorted (and we're off down to the MSPCA, who haven't even seen her yet, to let the vet look her over, get the paperwork sorted out, and so on), but once that's done, we'll ask the MSPCA to keep their eyes peeled for someone who will fit in with her and Barney. Hopefully an older dog - both Jon and I actually feel a bit guilty about rescuing such a youngster, but she was in need, and I'm sure will be a great companion for Barney. Finally, someone who can not just keep up with him, but will wear him out! ;)


Jan. 30th, 2010

So, following on from the very lovely "Power of the Dog" by Rudyard Kipling, which darth_tigger posted a link to in a comment on my last post, about the death of our lovely flat-coated retriever, Jake, Jon and I went up to the MSPCA the other day to let them know what happened to Jake, and to say that, although we're in no great rush, we would like to get another dog, possibly two, to keep Barney company. To my surprise they all remembered Jake and Barney, even though it was 2 years ago we adopted them, and they were only there for a short time. Apparently, Jake is the only flat-coated retriever they have had through the kennels in at least the last 7 years. He really was a very special dog.

On the wall in the kennels they have a very lovely, but incredibly sad poem. It had no title or credit, but having looked it up on Google it is called "The Legacy", but the author is unknown. Here it is - be warned, it's very sad, especially if you have recently lost a dog, and had Jon and I both in tears when we read it!

The Legacy

'When humans die, they make a will
To leave their homes and all they have
To those they love.
I, too, would make a will if I could write.

To some poor wistful, lonely stray
I leave my happy home,
My dish, my cosy bed, my cushioned chair, my toy.
The well loved lap, the gentle stroking hand,
The loving voice,
The place I made in someone's heart,
The love that at the last could help me to
A peaceful painless end
Held in loving arms.

If I should die, Oh do not say,
"No more a pet I'll have,
To grieve me by it's loss"
Seek out some lonely, unloved dog
And give my place to him.
This is the legacy I leave behind -
'Tis all I have to give.'

The people at the MSPCA seem to be keen to re-home other dogs with us, and have a mum and pup they recently rescued who they want us to meet. We'll have to see how Barney gets on with them - he can be a bit of a bully with younger dogs - but we may have more doggies sooner than expected, to inherit Jake's legacy.
It is becoming an established fact that I only blog when something very worrying or depressing is happening in my life. This post is, I'm afraid, no exception.

Today, we had to have our elderly rescue dog, Jake, put down.Collapse )

Battlestar Atlantia LRP at Odyssey 2010

As per the post on the Odyssey LJ Community, we (the Bladelands mob - mostly Jon, with assistance from myself and others) are running an LRP game set in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica universe at next year's Eastercon.

There is a flyer with further info available to download here.
There is also a facebook event for the game here.

If you're interested in playing, please drop me an email at m@bladelands.co.uk.

Even if you're not interested in playing, please spread the word to anyone you think might be..... The sooner people let us know they want to join in, the better the game will be!


BCA v Singh

Simon sent out an email this morning, and is asking people to spread the word, so I have re-posted it here in case you're interested, and not on his 'mailing list:

BCA v SinghCollapse )


Job hunting.....

So, for a variety of reasons, I am taking drastic measures and have decided to get a REAL JOB.... (Shock! Horror!)

I found the following advert via the "Manx Graduate Portal", and it rather sounds like the sort of thing I might enjoy. So I've sent off my CV. They tell me they're looking at it, and will be in touch.

It's all quite exciting....

Job title: Business Analyst
Employer: PDMS
Reference: WIM 64003
Employer sector: Information Technology
Job type: IT / IS / Telecommunications


Are you looking to change direction in your career or are you already an analyst looking for a new challenge?
PDMS, a rapidly expanding, professional software house based in the Isle of Man and London are looking to recruit a business analyst to join their highly skilled team. Analysts will undergo initial training and induction on the Isle of Man, with a potential opportunity for one to relocate to the London office on completion of a induction period.
The roles will involve conducting analysis and design, test planning and testing for new systems for a wide range of clients, plus problem investigation, resolution and testing on existing systems. If you have some or all of the following qualities then we would like to receive your CV:
• Strong problem solving skills and you learn new skills and absorb new information quickly
• Excellent professional writing and communication skills
• Commitment to quality and precision
• Excellent attention to detail and can spot tiny inconsistencies and errors (and those tiny problems probably drive you mad!)
• Flexibility – you are happy to switch between roles according to what is needed at the time
• You have worked in different jobs for different types of organisations
• Experience of using different computer systems – good and bad
• Good people management skills
• You are happy to go into new environments, meet new people, build good working relationships with them and extract information from them – all in very short timescales.
We offer in return:
• Full training and a supportive environment in which to develop
• A competitive salary and benefits package
• A relaxed and friendly working environment
If you think you might fit the bill please message us through the Manx Graduate portal with why you are the right candidate for this position.


Wild Food

It is a not-terribly-well-known fact that I'm a bit into survival type stuff and self-sufficiency. Not massively, but I watch a bit of Ray Mears and have a tendancy to carry pen knives, survival kits, and bits of string that might come in handy if I ever have to russle up a makeshift shelter in a wood on short notice, just in case I get ship wrecked or am in a plane crash or just break down somewhere obscure. Generally I'm a bit jealous of the people in Lost, and sometimes feel that I'd be much happier living in a tent and making do. Provided it was a tent with wifi, obviously.

Consequently, I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from eating stuff I find for myself like blackberries from the hedgerow, nuts off wild hazel trees or chestnuts in the autumn. Sadly I don't like nettles or elderflower, which are also often readily available. I keep meaning to learn enough about mushrooms to be able to eat ones I find without killing myself, and if we ever manage to buy the field behind our house I might get some chickens so we can have fresh eggs.

Port Soderick is a great place for this. The other day I surprised some limpets down at our little cove, managed to prise them off their rocks (poor things! They looked at me with their little snaily faces - they're surprisingly cute - but it did them no good, I'm afraid... Apologies to the vegetarians and vegans on my flist!), brought them home and fried them up with some garlic. Chewy, but very tastey! And it's currently wild garlic season. We're completely surrounded by the stuff here - if you don't like garlic, don't visit in the spring! - and it's very tasty. We've done a fabulous garlic roast chicken, by stuffing the leaves both into and under the skin of a chicken and roasting it in the aga, which also made very tasty garlic chicken soup the following day, once we'd boiled up the bones. And the leaves and flowers go great chopped up in sour cream on the top of a jacket potato. Yum! Today's experiment was mashed potatoe with wild garlic flowers, which worked marvelously, and was super-tastey with sausages and gravy.

Barney caught a duckling today, but it was far too small to make a good meal, so I let it go. Does anyone know if malards are good to eat? Occasionally the dogs catch full-sized ducks. Barney also catches rats sometimes, but I don't fancy rat! There are an awful lot of rabits and phesants here abouts, which I know are good eating, but they don't seem to be able to catch those. I might *eventually* get 'round to going along to the clay pigeon shooting place up the road and getting good enough to take pot shots at the local wildlife, but I'm not sure about the legality of that! If I ever do manage to get a bird of prey we'll be sorted, though.....


Furry friends

Well, we finally had to take the cat to the vet this morning to have her put down. The last few days she really hasn't been doing very much, but she was looking up and greeting us when we came in, clearly enjoying cuddles and attention, and could be coaxed into having the odd tastey titbit or lap of milk. I had really hoped she would drift away in her sleep, but this morning she clearly wasn't happy or comfortable any more - which was distressing to see - so we called the vet and took her down there at 11:30 this morning. In a way, I wish we'd gone yesterday, before she got into distress, although of course we had no way of knowing. At the same time I'm glad we waited. Yesterday she was alert enough that I think she would have been very stressed out by the trip. Today she was out of it enough that she really didn't care, and just curled up in her bed, oblivious to the world.

The vet was very kind, and said we probably did the right thing, making her as comfortable as we could while she was still able to enjoy herself, which was a comfort. And I was very impressed by the injection - it seemed very painless, and very swift. Sign me up for one of those when I get into that state!

Given that our efforts to bury our last cat were pretty farcical (you've never seen two people make such a mess of what should be such a simple job!), and given that we have plans for major work in our garden this year, which will involve digging the entire thing up, we went for the cremation option (and paid the extra to just get our cat back, rather than a mixture of cats!). I found having to choose a box a bit surreal - cardboard would have been fine, but that wasn't an option! - and we'll scatter her down the glen, or maybe plant her under a tree in the garden when it's redone. I believe cats make excellent fertilizer....