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

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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.

    Read more...Collapse )

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

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

Read more...Collapse )


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 :)

Read more...Collapse )

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.
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
4:05 pm
Running on empty

Today I am tired, and a bit fed up, for some of the following reasons:

listCollapse )

I am however looking forward to seeing friends from my Sing and Sign group tomorrow (even if there's no group this week due to half term) and lunch with Lucy on Friday. Matthew is lovely when he's not being a grump - I'm really enjoying him getting more into speaking at the moment, even if he still doesn't have many words - and Mike remains lovely as ever :)

Oh and my childminder just sent me another photo of Matthew which has also cheered me up no end:


Monday, September 8th, 2014
2:46 pm
You know you have a cold when: you can't smell the Olbas Oil.

One of the lovely things about living where I do: looking out of the kitchen window to see barn owls, and scaring baby bunnies off the bike path on the way to work.

It is too hot in my office.

Lovely Professor Jim signed Matthew's passport application. Now to find his birth certificate and post it, and hope the tiniest hint of red-eye on the photos done in the post-office doesn't get it rejected.

I don't think Postmaster at Engineering really wants to go see Peter Pan in Bournemouth.

Must have a sort of recent photos for Facebook/LJ soon. Still posting one-a-day to http://www.blipfoto.com/amatthewaday
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
2:28 pm
Passport counter-signatory dance - help!

Hmm, I need to find someone who:

  • Has known me for at least 2 years
  • Can identify Matthew
  • Has a current British or Irish passport (and can find the passport number)
  • Is not related to me by birth or marriage
  • Is on the passport office's list of people in a profession or of good community standing

Anyone immediately want to volunteer? It would probably help if you live near enough to sign it in person too, though we could use the post if absolutely necessary.

I also need to get passport photos done, but that's another issue!

Thursday, June 26th, 2014
10:08 pm
Toaster tales, part two

So I went into the office by the front door for a change on Wednesday, and Lily on reception called me over to let me know the person I'd given the old toaster away to had never collected it from reception, so I've brought it home again. Ocado have said they'll take the new one away even without the box, which is great. On a whim this evening I made two slices of toast, one in each, and though the new toaster has a slightly bigger slot they both came out equally uneven and equally not quite toasted to the edge. Far better to keep the existing slightly rubbish toaster than pay £30 for a new one. Shame it's taken 4 weeks and so much faff to discover!

Still tempted by the see through Magimix one mind :)

Monday, June 23rd, 2014
9:56 pm
On toasters
So when Mike and I first moved in together we bought a toaster. a sorry tale of uneven toastCollapse )

Anyone recommend a decent toaster?
Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
2:09 pm
Things we have done in April/May/June so far

Things I have apparently mysteriously failed to mention previously on LJ:

  • Bought a lovely bakfiets cargo bike for Matthew to ride in (pic below)
  • Started a blipfoto journal of Matthew (A Matthew A Day)

picCollapse )

Things we have done since 20th April:

  • Given Blood
  • Evicted a wasp's nest from the shed
  • Had our NCT group birthday party (pic below)
  • Visited Clown Around soft play in Harston and Botanic Gardens with Sing and Sign folk
  • Bought a smartphone (Nokia Lumia 520) so taking lots of snaps on my phone
  • Been to the Festival of Wheels in Shelford and tried on police hats
  • Annual cycling campaign ride to Reach Fair (maps below)
  • Given up on Waitrose for lunch with several toddlers and switched to Scotsdales
  • Jack's birthday party and baptism
  • Visits to Kayleigh/Jamie, Rod/Thomas and Jenny/Jack
  • Moved our satellite dish due to a tree growing in the way!
  • Took Matthew to help me vote in the local/european elections
  • Visited granny and grandad, and went to the National Railway Museum and the Barwick Maypole festivities (pic below)
  • Day out at the Cambridge Model Engineering Society with a long ride on a model train!

Pics and mapsCollapse )

Matthew is now:

  • Walking and running like it's going out of fashion
  • Learning more words to understand, and following instructions (when he wants to)
  • Nearly but not quite talking, "yum" is his current favourite word
  • Loves reading books, and will ask for the same one over and over
  • Coming to mummy and daddy for cuddles, not just milk
  • Settling a little better at the childminder's, especially when distracted with rice cakes
  • Loving getting messy, and splashing in water
  • Doing lots of playing outside, including in the rain (pic below)
  • Eating! Full meals rather than just small amounts
  • Starting to feed himself with cutlery (pic below)
  • Napping in his cot, sometimes once sometimes twice
  • Currently being very hard to get to sleep at bedtime, and waking 2-3 times most nights
  • Riding on the big seat of the bike, not just the toddler seat (except when sleepy) (pic below)
  • Putting things in and out of other things
  • Climbing on stuff
  • Occasionally having small tantrums when he doesn't get his own way, especially when hungry

More picsCollapse )

Monday, June 9th, 2014
10:28 am
No superfast broadband for us
I recently heard that some of the BT cabinets in Great Shelford were being upgraded to FTTC, and that somewhat got my hopes up that we might soon be able to get Infinity. However after some digging I find that it is only a small number of ones being upgraded as a result of the Connecting Cambridgeshire scheme (http://www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk/).

According to Connecting Cambridgeshire: Cabinet 18 is not included in the programme due to the Virgin Media coverage in the area.

Only our house isn't on Virgin, though much of our street is, and their green box is under 100m from our door. I contacted Virgin on the offchance, and they put an actual paper letter through my door by hand to say they've done extensive surveys but that it is uneconomical to provide service to us at this time.

And BT, when asked if they have any plans to upgrade our cabinet themselves, say: please be advise I am afraid to say that your locality will be enable with infinity within 3 months

Which to be honest could mean anything, but I think means they have no plans within the next 3 months, and who knows after that. Mike is much more philosophical about the whole thing, we do at least get approximately 4Mbps these days, but dammit, I got my hopes up briefly there!
Sunday, April 20th, 2014
8:11 pm
Happy Easter

This had become a bit of a state-of-the-Matthew blog, rather than strictly a journal about Me, but I guess a lot of the time that pretty much amounts to the same thing these days.

13 months old today, and enjoyed his first Easter egg:

He still has two more when he finishes that one :)

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