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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Eleanor Blair's LiveJournal:

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Monday, May 23rd, 2016
2:22 pm
Of strikes and salaries

So UCU members in Higher Education are due to be on strike for 2 days this week, and then working to contract thereafter, over a headline 1.1% pay offer. There are other factors too, where UCEA haven't responded adequately to union concerns on the gender pay gap and on casualised working, but the pay increase is the main issue. To be up front I voted in favour of strike action, and I do sometimes wonder if I'm just being selfish in wanting more pay, but here's some thoughts and factors.

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Saturday, May 7th, 2016
9:45 pm
Huge thanks to my sister Emily for buying me and Mike a chocolate tasting course from Chocolat Chocolat for Christmas. We've had a fab afternoon of chocolate and chocolate and more chocolate. Not entirely surprised to discover that Mike is a supertaster and I am not - explains why he finds more things unpalatable than I do :) 12 different sorts of chocolate buttons, 3 types of flavoured chocolate squares made by Dolfin to try and guess the flavour, three sorts of their own chocolate just to enjoy (choc orange, sea salted caramel praline, and White choc with strawberries), various taste testing tasks and a quiz - lots of fun. We didn't win the quiz but bit scored a respectable 7/10. And got goody bags of leftover chocolate to bring home.

And on top of that we get a 10% discount in store for the next few months too.

Matthew spent the afternoon at Hania's but we had a nice morning trip to Lammas Land (paddling pool not yet filled sadly), and lunch at the Orchard Tea rooms in Grantchester. And afterwards he rode his bike all the way home.
Thursday, May 5th, 2016
9:43 pm
What a day
Made brownies
Painted pictures
Made furniture with Matthew
Ate brownie
Went to the park and made sandcastles
Had lunch in the garden
Cut the grass and edged the lawn
Watched Matthew 'watering' aka drenching himself with hose
Finished making furniture
Tidied Matthew's room a bit into new furniture
Returned to find Matthew was doing more painting on his own...
... Using a pull-back car as a brush
Cleaned Matthew
Cleaned the wall
Cleaned the table
Washed the curtains
Cleaned the carpet
Played with playdough
Noticed Matthew was looking a little red about one ear and nipped to the chemists for sunburn advice for toddlers
Bought aloe vera and capri sun
Played with more playdough until Matthews tea was ready
Sorted out grocery order for tomorrow while Mike too Matthew up to bed
Ate curry
Filed paperwork
Spot cleaned bits of carpet
Checked and my phone is fixed and preparing to be returned to me
Put my feet up for a bit

I admire his creativity and independence but that's the last time I put the paints away in the box but leave the box on the table!
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016
9:34 pm
Ridiculous child
So if he still has mornings where he wails like it's the end of the world when I leave him at his childminder of over two years I dread to think what pre-school will be like in September! He was absolutely fine of course - though tired. He hasn't quite got the knack of sleeping more at night to counter the no nap days with us.
Sunday, May 1st, 2016
10:49 pm
Lovely day
We're having a really good bank holiday. Today's excursion was just a bike ride to the Botanic Gardens but Matthew was delighted - he loves the stepping stones and exploring the rock garden and after lunch we spent ages playing monsters running round the maze. With a small French girl joining in. We then headed over to Lammas Land for an hour or more at the rec and a bright blue ice lolly went down very well. I gave myself one hell of a clonk on the shin on one of the climbing frames though! Home through Grantchester Meadows for more cycling on his balance bike in the afternoon sunshine (and learning not to try turning round in the middle of a cattle grid). Plus home made pie for tea and the last of the Tour de Yorkshire to watch once Matthew went to bed.

And Mike has pointed out his phone is dual sim so I've stuck my sim in it too for emergency contact purposes. Though a little alarmed that Hania has replied to neither email or text letting her know my phone is dead!
Saturday, April 30th, 2016
10:08 pm
In better news...
We had a fab day out today. Got the train to Stansted Mountfichet, had a nice lunch in Yeomans Tearooms, visited the castle (and got mobbed for food by a cockerel who could jump 3 feet high and a pair of goats that finished off both the food and the paper bag). Headed up the hill to find a nice rec and then look at the windmill - and found the steward outside doing some tidying up before their open day tomorrow (normally last Sunday of the month plus bank holiday Sunday and Mondays) - and he very kindly invited us in when we said we weren't local. Dashed back down the hill to reach the station with 5 minutes to spare for our train and then got back to Shelford with just long enough for cake at the deli before they closed. Rounding off the afternoon at Gt Shelford rec.

Since Matthew's birthday we've had a lot of quiet pottering about and a couple of tummy bugs and a grotty cold. Hoping for some better health soon. Next weekend we have our (rescheduled) chocs tasting course, and a visit from Pete, Val and Alice for a very Christmas. We're having Evan and Gina to visit in a couple of weeks too then off to see my mum and dad (and enjoy the spa) at the late May bank hol. Then we've got a week in Wales in June and a week in Somerset in August and hopefully soon we'll have confirmation of days for when Matthew starts pre-school playgroup in September and we just need to sort out the wrap-around care! Phew :)
9:40 pm
Dratted phone
Short version: phone buggered, use email or Facebook or Skype or landline or letter or carrier pigeon or shouting to keep in touch for now.

Long version: Read more...Collapse )

I've contacted my insurers online as their phone is only available Monday to Friday, could be 48 hours to hear back from them, looking at cheap android phones online and not seeing anything that would do quickly as a short term replacement and future spare. Thank goodness for the iPad in the meantime. Might have to start carrying my iPod or camera or both around again :)
Sunday, March 20th, 2016
9:06 pm
Happy birthday Matthew

Three years have flown by. Instead of a baby we now have a little boy who loves to run and jump and chase and ride his balance bike and play at the park. He loves books and silly videos on YouTube especially if they feature Thomas or Lightning and Mater. He likes to make up his own stories too and to borrow new books from the library all the time. He loves numbers and counting and recognises quite a few letters (especially M and S) and he's just starting to try dressing and undressing himself and is starting to use a potty and generally growing up fast. He sleeps through most nights now but is starting to do without a nap, which can be hard work at times but makes day trips easier. And yeah, most of the time he's a lovely little boy even if he's sometimes still a lot of hard work.

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016
10:48 am
Day off

I'm having a day off work so taking the opportunity to get round to posting to LJ for a change. After dropping Matthew off at the childminder's and running a couple of errands I'm now sitting in the deli with coffee and cake and knitting:

And yes, that's rhubarb I'm knitting in preparation for a family photo shoot with Martin Parr at the Hepworth gallery on the 20th in conjunction with his show about life in the rhubarb triangle. My great great grandma (on mum's side) was a rhubarb grower, so it's a bit of a family tie (it turns out my uncle Tom was an acquaintance of Martin's at art college - small world). Anyway hopefully by then I should have three finished sticks of rhubarb knitted.


Trying to think when I last posted! We had a lovely Christmas - visiting Evan and Gina and having mum and dad visit us. And I had an awesome birthday before that. Big birthday party with soft play and a disco, and then a family cottage stay which was lovely despite Matthew falling down the cellar steps and bumping his head (I think I might have mentioned that already). Since then it's been pretty quiet to be honest - baking and trips to the park and Scotsdales have been our highlights - though Matthew is loving his marble run.

He's such a grown up boy now - barely a toddler any more. We've put him down for a pre - school place from September - but until then we're really happy with his care at Hania's - not least for a bit of multi-cultural experience.  Starting to think about birthday plans for March :)

But Right now I'm enjoying a bit of free time without him and looking forward to Mike having the afternoon off too so we can have a nice lunch together and then finally see Star Wars at the cinema :)

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
1:20 pm
Outlook and IMAP - it gets better!
This is a technical issue and may be completely boring and incomprehensible to many of you. :)

Oh Outlook how I love you. I had a brainwave about the weird imap sync issue, where Outlook sometimes believes it has a folder on the server containing lots of messages, which isn't actually there.

I wondered what happens if you then create the folder on the server and sync again.

Answer: rather than deleting all the local messages to match the server, or uploading all the messages to match the local copy, it's done a bit of both, and now 75% of the messages are on both, and 25% are on neither.

And it's the 2016 version too, not just 2013, which is a useful thing to learn now but still a nuisance.

More detail on our work blog:

Monday, November 9th, 2015
9:42 am
Birthday Party
When: Saturday 21 November at 16:30–22:45
Where: Great Shelford Memorial Hall
What: Family friendly in the afternoon, DJ in the evening, birthday tea, cake, drinks - but feel free to bring a bottle (and there are shops in the village just in case). RSVPs for vague catering numbers will help. Parking available, handy for Shelford (Cambs) station on the Liverpool Street to Cambridge line or the Citi 7 bus or NCN route 11 by bike.
Who: You? If you'd consider yourself a friend and would like to come then do. But let me know!
Why: I will be turning 40!

I'd love it if people could share with me any photos you have of me in younger days (especially ones with you in too), or any tracks which remind you of me. That way I can put together and album and playlist to remind me of all my friends and family over the last 40 years :)
9:38 am
Once and Future Things

Oh my, I haven't posted anything since August. Since then:

Lots of ThingsCollapse )

There has been lots of painting and baking and riding and parks and toy trains and bricks and all the toy cars as well, and generally life is good (but tiring). Work is busy, and morale isn't great since James is off sick and we've got an IT Review on the near horizon and it's no secret the Head of Department thinks we're too expensive and wants to cut costs and possibly staff. We did have a really lovely little gathering last Wednesday afternoon to wish Helen a lovely wedding on Saturday, and are planning a Christmas decorations competition along the corridor. I blame the bubbly. In terms of the Union I'm officially not standing again for the committee (the AGM is the end of this month) but am still involved with the IT Review taking place at the Cavendish Lab (which so far sounds like a rather more positive affair, with the unions invited in early rather than because it's all going horribly pear-shaped).

In terms of future plans next weekend we are going to see The Gruffalo at the Arts Theatre with Lucy and Ed too, and the following weekend I'm having a big birthday party at the Memorial Hall (if you haven't had an invitation and would like to come let me know!), and the weekend after that will be more birthday celebrations with all the family. Looking forward to it all, even if I'm a bit snowed under with preparations at the moment.

Monday, August 24th, 2015
11:22 am
A cross word

At work there's a small bunch of us who gather at coffee time in the morning (and indeed tea time in the afternoon - though I less often join them for that) to do crosswords. As it's quite a large group we tend to print out six copies of each, and one person fills in the answers while we all join in working them out. Mostly we do the Guardian Cryptic, resorting to the Times Club Monthly and Guardian Genius only in desperation. And we've been working our way through the back catalogue too, since they're available online.

This morning's crossword is by Quantum, Guardian number 22,284 and is about 10 years old. So when we got down to the last clue and we're just a bit stumped as to *why* exactly the answer is correct we can't turn to fifteensquared.com for the solution for a change. The clue is:

Say I'll be in the road or at sea (6)

Discussion of the answerCollapse )

Anyone want to put us out of our misery?

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
4:03 pm
Monday, April 13th, 2015
5:09 pm
Just post something already!

Keep meaning to do a proper catch up post on the last 3 months (eek) but the desire to do it "properly" means it hasn't happened. Anyway since January:

  • Me: Depression is mostly under control I think, but still taking the meds. Loving my current haircut and actually using straighteners when I dry it keeps it nice even when it only gets washed two or three times a week. I may be turning into a girl ;). I'm getting back into reading books again on a regular basis and have worked my way through a Pratchett, a Stephen King and an entire box set of the novels True Blood is based on. Mike and I are still enjoying our LoveFilm by post subscription, and it's cheaper now we dumped the Amazon Prime because we're no longer paying for the streaming content we never used anyway. We've caught up with season 4 of The Walking Dead and season 4 of True Blood recently, and enjoyed both. Perhaps something a bit less gruesome next?
  • Matthew: is two! How did that happen? He's going through phases of being inexplicably upset or grumpy, and has a bit of a habit of closing one eye or looking a bit cross-eyed when concentrating, which we're getting the GP to look into, but in general he's good fun a lot of the time, and increasingly chatty. We didn't throw him a birthday party but did make a cake, and he enjoyed blowing out candles and lots of presents. We did have a joint party with our NCT group, and have been celebrating with some of his other friends as they all turn 2 too. A few of them now have younger brothers or sisters
  • Family: We had a lovely post-Christmas visit to one set of Grandparents in Lydney in late January, and had great fun running round bits of the Forest. We also had a fab long weekend visiting Granny and Grandad in Mirfield, with trips out to Lotherton Hall with his cousins (and their cousins) and to Wentworth Castle. He's also had Easter hols trips to Anglesey Abbey and Wimpole Hall with his childminder, which he's really enjoyed. Just need to catch up with Pete and Val and Emily some time soon. Emily at least we know we'll see in June as we're looking forward to 40th wedding anniversary celebrations for mum and dad in Italy.
  • Work: work's going pretty well actually, getting stuff done, keeping on top of queries, and some new projects to try get my teeth in when I've got a spare moment. We'll ignore the politics of the internal review process, the ridiculous way they're treating our technicians in terms of work space during a building project, and the mild worries about people retiring and not being adequately replaced as Not My Problem. I've also decided being Data Protection Officer is Not My Problem too - especially if they can't get round to putting it on any other footing than casually asking me if I can do it.
  • UCU/USS: The Union officially accepted a pensions offer, which has now gone to a member consultation process. So it's possible something could change but highly likely that the end of our final salary scheme is in sight for next April, and though the career average scheme that replaces it will be an improvement on the existing career average scheme for newer members it's still not the result we were hoping for in terms of lots of the details. And the union itself is split over how the whole thing was handled and I'm somewhat disillusioned with the whole thing, and fed up of special sector conferences being called to make decisions more "democratic" than an all-member ballot, especially when they are called in Manchester. I'm considering stepping down from the local committee as I don't think the stress and responsibility is doing my mental health much good at the moment.
  • A bit random, and I'm sure I've left stuff out. Here's a big bunch of pics, so I've made them quite small, and you can click through if you want to see them bigger.

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Monday, January 5th, 2015
2:20 pm
Matthew at 21 (and a bit) months

I thought I'd split this into a separate post.

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2:19 pm
December, Christmas and New Year

Goodness it's a while since I posted here! Apologies to those who follow me on Facebook (or my photos of Matthew on blipfoto) and have probably heard most of this already :)

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NB: My two recent LJ posts were partly as a result of seeing this - so I'm reposting in case it inspires anyone else:

'When you see this, make a post in your journal or in a community. It can be anything: a crosspost something you've posted on Tumblr, a few words about the last thing you read/watched, or just a "Hi, how is everyone?" Then go read your f-list and leave at least one comment.'
Sunday, November 23rd, 2014
10:12 pm
Family and Friends
What a fab weekend.

Evan and Gina came to visit and stayed over Saturday night. We had a lovely walk to the park in the afternoon and curry for tea, before I left the Snapes to themselves and headed out for a fab night of dancing to cheesy 90s music with some lovely friends. A late night with just a little alcohol but a lot of fun.

Sunday we got to lie in until 7, then had a nice morning playing with trains and blocks, and Matthew liked both my glow stick bracelets and I ♥ 90s helium balloon. An early lunch at Scotsdales with a visit to the birds and fishes then home again, where Matthew had a long nap and we were joined by Pete, Val and Alice - who is nearly 1 now and has mastered getting round by rowling everywhere. We got them a bit for lunch, and shared some chocolate cake, and Matthew woke and came down and we all had a pleasant afternoon together before Evan and Gina had to head home - but the others stayed for tea and we had a lovely time together. Finishing the evening with old Doctor Who (Pertwee era) and the last of the cake :)

Back to the GP tomorrow after 3 weeks on Sertraline - and I'm certainly feeling much better!

The only bad bits this weekend have been the rain and the fact I keep missing mum and dad on Skype.
Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
9:23 pm
Good things and bad things
Since my last post:
- our Union Vice President (and president-elect) has resigned (for a fortnight) over inability to work with the President (and vp-elect)
- Outlook 2013 turns out to have a horrid bug relating to synchronisation of IMAP accounts
- Matthew threw up copiously on Friday, and was such a grump at the childminder's yesterday that she's actively worried something is wrong
- I'm feeling a bit grotty too - with oddly low appetite too - blaming the sertraline in my case
- my poor mum has broken her arm!
- Edit: oh and we accidentally left the fridge door ajar this morning and killed a fair quantity of yogurt and cheese in the heat of the fridge light as a result too

- We've been getting more sleep
- I've been doing good campaign work for the union
- People at work are being very nice about my attempts to fix Outlook
- Matthew was much happier today
- I'm looking forward to my birthday, Mike's parents visiting and a night out
- I had a lovely chat with mum earlier
- Mike is wonderful, you lot made nice comments, and Anna sent me a card!
- a robot landed on a comet!!

So still very fed up, but coping on and off, with optimism.
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
8:19 pm
So following on from my post last week I took a self-assessment test on the NHS webpages, and scored somewhere between 10 and 15, most likely around 13 - indicating that it's likely I'm suffering from moderate depression. Anyway I went to see my GP today (well I say my GP - I'm not sure I've actually seen Dr Rann before, but she seems nice and coped calmly with me sobbing at her :). After explaining how I felt she asked what I was hoping to get from the appointment, to which I said at least partly just to get someone to agree I wasn't just imagining it. But eventually I left with:

- A prescription for a low starting dose of sertraline (anti-depressant)
- A sheet with some online resources for DIY CBT to try
- An appointment for 3 weeks time to see how I'm getting on, and if the CBT seems helpful to refer me for a course

She also suggests I see if the university counselling service can offer any help too, and really thinks 2 years of sleep deprivation is probably a big issue and suggests we need to do something about the night wakings. I'm not prepared to give up breast feeding (which she didn't suggest but equally didn't sound terribly supportive of) but we can try cut down how often we offer milk at night and see if he wakes less as a result - it may not make much difference though, as he was down to just one wake most nights before he was full of cold, so I think it's more than just wanting milk.

Anyway I felt a bit better for going, but a bit wobbly at the same time.

And I feel like the Pensions Officers meeting in London today was well worth attending and hopefully having written a brief report on it for our action committee and exec on the way home on the train has been really useful too, so a positive day overall.
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