Hello again. I can't believe my blogging has been reduced to a once a month round up. It used to be something on which I spent many hours a week, and I feel sad that I don't post more. On the other hand, I don't know from where I used to get the time - because I just don't have it now, that's for sure. In some ways I'm glad I'm not online quite as much as I used to be, but in other ways ... I'm not. Oh well - I would like to thank everyone who reads this load of twaddle, anyway.
Right - what's first to report this month? Well, after at least a couple of years of me saying 'I must get the kids new beds', I finally bit the bullet and did the deed this month. I did a lot of shopping around, before I ended up at Dreams, who were very accommodating on the issue of 'if I'm buying two beds what sort of deal can you do for me?' :D
Of course, clearing out their rooms to accommodate said beds, was a laborious task, but one which turned out to be quite profitable in the case of No.1's room, where I left the job £15.27, and a £15 iTunes voucher better off than when I started. (I didn't really, I handed them to her - but honestly, she should take better care of her money and things like vouchers!) No.2 was fabulous at chucking stuff out. His priorities have changed a lot since we moved in here, and lots of toys were able to be donated to local charity shops.
They both now have rather lovely looking bedrooms, and mine feels somehow ... shabby, by comparison. :-s
I was really sad to hear this month that Seve Ballesteros lost his fight against brain cancer. He had a similar illness to my Dad, so I naturally took an interest in his battle. I guess like many others, I will always remember him at his sporting peak - when winning 5 major golf events, including being the first European to ever win The Masters. He won his first Open Championship in 1979, after hitting his tee shot on the 16th hole into the car park ... and still making a birdie! That spoke volumes about his character and style.
I had a rather terrifying experience this month, when I gave a presentation to Camera Club. Sue, one of the senior members, approached me back in early March, asking if I would give a talk on my close-up photography. My immediate answer was 'no' since (a) the thought of it terrified me, and (b) I wasn't sure I had anything to say which would interest a hall full of other photographers, most of whom are much more experienced than me. Sue was, however, more than ready for this response: "Would you at least think about it?" she asked. "Yes, of course" I replied. "Good ... then it'll come as less of a shock on the evening!" was her retort. At which I giggled, and then panicked.
In the end, I decided to do what she'd suggested, and explain that although I do take a lot of close up (macro) shots, I don't have a 'proper' macro lens (I'm waiting until the photography fairy wakes from his/her slumber and realises that the new Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM Lens has my name all over it - anyone got a spare £700?!) So I spent a whole weekend at the end of last month making a slideshow of pictures to a backing track; and a Powerpoint presentation over which I could speak. I can honestly say I was absolutely petrified ... but I did it. I just hope they don't ask me to do another one for quite some time!
Most of the members of Camera Club were in a local town this month to photograph a military ceremony and parade. We don't often have that sort of thing round here! I was, unfortunately, behind 4 rows of people, some of whom had small children on their shoulders, so the opportunities for shots were few and far between. I did get a couple that were ok:
Thankfully some of the other guys (and girls) got much better shots.
No.1 had another Parents' Evening this month. It is only 3 months since the last one, so we made appointments with different teachers this time. As previously, they all said good things; although as always there was the suggestion that she might speak up and be involved a bit more (she's quite shy). Her Art teacher has now gone on maternity leave - something about which No.1 is pleased: this Art teacher somehow doesn't inspire her the way her previous Art teachers have done, and when you're into the stage of coursework for your Art GCSE, that's important.
No.2's school runs a system in which the pupils have a 'home-school book' which parents sign to record that their child has done the required reading/work/whatever. This month I forgot to sign No.2's book one week. If the book's not signed, the pupil doesn't get the merit mark for doing the work, so I realised this would mean he missed out on a precious merit. I apologised to him when I went to pick him up from school.
"That's ok" he replied ... "I just forged your signature."
" :-O "
On the subject of No.2, his football club had their presentation evening this month, so he is now the proud owner of this:
His coach even made mention, in his speech, of how brave No.2 was in playing with an ankle injury this season. Brave? Impatient more like - there is no way he wasn't going to play if he could help it! Anyway, I had a lovely surprise when the coach called me up and presented me with a potted hibiscus to say thank you for taking the pictures for the team website this season. I would be at the games anyway, supporting No.2, so the thanks weren't necessary, but it was a really nice surprise during a week in which I needed my spirits lifting.
If any of you reading are interested in nature, there is an RSPB-organised event taking place in June in which you might like to take part (especially if you have youngsters as it's something they could get involved in too). They are calling it 'Make Your Nature Count', and what they want us all to do is to commit to an hour on any one day between 4th and 12th June, to count how many, and which breeds of birds you see in either your garden, or a local park, or other place. But not only are they interested in birds; they want to know how many frogs, toads, badgers, squirrels, even woodlice, you can see. Basically, it's a hunt for every living 'beastie' in your chosen location.
As well as being a nice thing to do, it's an important conservation survey to allow the RSPB to sort of 'stock take' on what's happening with wildlife in the UK at this time of year. It's something they only started doing a couple of years ago, and it helps them massively to know how various animals are doing in the breeding stakes. So if you want to contribute, just follow the link above, and have yourself an hour of exploring the undergrowth!
I haven't done much Flickr-ing this month on account of spending most of the time sorting out the kids' bedrooms, so I won't leave you with some of my contributions to the 111 in 2011 group (largely because there are very few of those!) Instead, I shall leave you with some pictures I took for a friend of mine.
Her golden retriever dog had a litter of NINE puppies, and she wanted some shots before they all went to their new homes. That sounds quite straightforward, doesn't it? Well let me tell you it was anything but straightforward: they were either fast asleep or all leaping around on top of one another!
I did manage a few nice shots though - I have put them on a disc for my friend, I hope she likes them. Here's just a taster.
Don't you think I was enormously strong to leave without agreeing to have one?!