llywela: (seascape-rainbow)
So I was off on my holidays the week before last – a big family excursion up to Yorkshire, where my older sister and her husband are now living. They only moved a couple of months ago – Ray has been ordained as a minister in the Methodist church and this is his first placement. It's a massive change for them, going from the London commuter belt to a teeny tiny rural town just outside Halifax up in the Yorkshire dales.

The removal company they used, by the way, were horrifically awful, in case anyone else out there ever considers using them – Orange Movers supposedly transport goods for Sotherby's, but on this performance it's hard to see how. They either lost or damaged about £4k worth of furniture and belongings, some of the items completely irreplaceable! Horrendous performance. The claim against them is still going through.

But back to the holiday. It being such an upheaval, and Deb being so concerned about moving even further away than she already was, we decided as a family to go up and visit them in their new home for the next five years – the house we booked for the week was in the village of Golcar near Huddersfield, about half an hour away from Deb and Ray's new place: close enough to do stuff together, but far enough away not to be on top of them.

South Wales to West Yorkshire? It's quite a journey, 224 miles. We travelled all day on the Friday, arriving around teatime, whereupon Deb and Ray descended upon us with food. The house we'd rented was gorgeous, sitting high on the hillside with this view across the valley:

Continued behind the cut )

And that was the story of my holibobs!
llywela: (seascape-rainbow)
Happy birthday to my beautiful niece, who is two years old today

It has been a very difficult two years. We were in court yesterday afternoon, hoping to secure her future - at the fourth time of asking. Her mother, my little sister, is very young and autistic with a moderate learning disability, and although she loves her daughter she has not been able to parent her full time, while the baby’s father is a feckless little flake with a possible undiagnosed learning disability, who has proved worse than useless. So my parents are raising the baby, who is bright and articulate and is thriving, but social services kept raising concerns about their age, as both are in their 60s - it was when a social worker stated that the baby was still young enough to be taken away and adopted out that we went out and got a solicitor and applied for a court order that would secure her future within the family

We have a plan. My parents are in good health and are wonderful with the baby, she is thriving under their care. My sister lives at home with them, and as they age and she matures, she will have every chance to begin to step up and take on more responsibility, gradually assuming full time care of her daughter - but if that proves impossible, if she can’t manage it, that’s where I come in. It may well be that my niece will come to me in the end - I am the backup plan. This is a family arrangement that we are all comfortable with, one that will result in the least possible disruption to my niece’s life.

We just needed someone in authority to agree. We’ve been in court four times now this year. The first two times were adjourned because the baby’s father didn’t show up, and the court wanted to give him ‘every chance’ to have his say. The third time, he did show up, but then the court legal advisor was dubious about my parents’ age and wondered if social services should be doing more to provide support, and she swayed the three magistrates, who decided that they couldn’t possibly make a decision, so referred the case to a judge - costing us more time and money and stress.

Finally, yesterday, we got to see a judge. The baby’s father did not turn up. The judge took exactly ten minutes to decide that the arrangements and plans we have in place are entirely sensible, pointed out that no one can predict the future, so the best we can do is put in place a plan for now, which is what we have done, and passed the child arrangement order that we had requested.

Finally! We can now celebrate the baby’s birthday without all this stress hanging over our heads!
llywela: (seascape-rainbow)
It's been ages since I posted here! I have a whole stack of photos from various outings over the summer, and kept meaning to picspam them, but somehow I never quite got around to it - so those will have to keep for a summer retrospective post or two down the line, because instead I am going to skip over those other outings and picspam yesterday, which I spent at the Monkey World primate sanctuary in Dorset with Ian, Mum, Chelsea and Layla-May.

Now, as a family we have followed the story of Monkey World for the best part of two decades now, as the goings on at the park are filmed for the telly - which both raises the profile of their work and also provides a steady revenue stream to keep the park going. But somehow we'd never managed to make the journey down there - at two-and-three-quarter hours, it's a long way to go and back in a day! But with the park celebrating its 30th anniversary, and Layla-May about to turn 2, we decided to bite the bullet and make the journey.

The date of the journey was chosen based on Ian's shift patterns and my annual leave availability, so we were a bit dismayed when the appointed day came and brought with it torrential rain. Still, undeterred, we set off on our travels, and took the rain with us for pretty much the entire almost-three-hour journey - but then, as we got close to the park, a miracle happened: it stopped raining at last! And it stayed dry for most of the day, despite every forecast having predicted steady rain for the entire day - it was gloomy and grey, to be sure, with a bit of drizzle here and there, but unlike Legoland a few weeks earlier, we managed to stay dry all day.

And Layla-May had a wonderful time, splashing in all the puddles in her welly boots!

Picspam continues behind the cut )
llywela: (seascape-rainbow)
last night I somehow ended up taking a not-yet-two-year-old to the seaside at almost 10pm and got to watch her sheer delight at being on the beach in the dark and splashing in puddles along the promenade in her wellies

We got back to the car and I strapped her into her seat, and then she turned to me rather sleepily. “A luffly walk,” she said, and it certainly was!
llywela: tree (Tree of Life)
How I spent the weekend just gone:

At Legoland in the pouring rain!

It was an early celebration for Layla-May's 2nd birthday, which isn't till September - but my older sister is moving to Yorkshire in a fortnight, so we wanted to get this in before the move, so she and her husband could join us. We got soaked, but Layla had a lovely time!
llywela: tree (Tree of Life)
Oh, damn. My former colleague Joan died last night.

It doesn't come as a surprise, we've known she was on her way for a long time now - she was given less than a year to live 18 months ago, so has lasted longer than expected. Still hurts, though. Joan was a quiet, peaceful soul, a pioneering female IT engineer from way back, started here at the Uni in the 1970s and came right the way through. She built our ID management system from the ground up, and left a huge hole when her illness forced her into premature retirement last year.

Rest in peace, Joan.
llywela: Eleven and TARDIS (Who1)
Doctor Who season finale

The only appropriate reaction is: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Jun. 19th, 2017 10:46 am
llywela: (seascape-rainbow)
Too hot, too hot. So instead of doing any of the things I should be doing, I'm going to throw out some thoughts on Poldark, season three so far.

Epsiode 3x01 )

Episode 3x02 )
llywela: peacock in front of Cardiff Castle Keep (Castell Caerdydd)

Who needs Wonder Woman when you can have Wonder-Layla! Look at that face, that is the face of a baby who knows that she is magnificent. Just turning 21 months, she's as tall as a three-year-old and growing ever more conversational by the day, forming new sentences all the time and taking great delight in learning new words, the bigger the better. 'Tambourine', 'bandicoot', 'octopus', 'xylophone', 'humongous' - say a big word within earshot, and she'll have a stab at saying it. She can count up to ten, as well (except for seven, she always skips seven. And then gives herself a round of applause at ten). She laughs all the time, loves reading books and going for walks and playing with toy cars (and balls, and building blocks, and animals, and just about anything, really), and her favourite cartoons are Bing and Peter Rabbit, which she tends to get very emotionally involved with. She's nervous when Peter Rabbit is chased by the fox or farmer, and upset when Bing Bunny is upset...with empathy like that, this child has a bright fandom future ahead of her! She might even grow some real hair, someday.

On a different note, the fella and I continued our current theme of castles by paying a visit on Saturday to Chepstow Castle in Monmouthshire - a much shorter journey than to Powis the other week!

So, this is Chepstow Castle, which sits atop a cliff at the edge of the River Wye, right on the border between Wales and England. It is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain, dating to 1067 - having conquered England the previous year, William had to consolidate that victory by guarding his borders, and the Welsh border was a particular problem for him!

Picspam and tour continued behind the cut - click on the images to see them full size )
llywela: Life on Mars - Chris reading (LoM-reading)
On Saturday evening just gone, in the midst of the biggest security operation this city has ever seen, Real Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 to win the Champions League at the stadium once known as the Millennium Stadium, which for the purposes of this game and associated advertising regulations we were not permitted to call the Principality Stadium (its current name).

Also on Saturday evening, a group of terrorists launched an attack in London, killing seven people and wounding dozens more. My baby niece's 'other' aunt, her dad's sister, was not just in London at the time, but was actually in Borough, in the area directly affected. Her husband back home in Swansea with their three-year-old spent the night posting updates to Facebook for worried friends and relatives, updating us all on her progress as she was locked into a restaurant for safety, then evacuated to Vauxhall, then evacuated again, eventually found a taxi, and so on, before eventually making it back to the safety of the uncle's house she was staying at for the weekend. Thank God she's safe, but my heart goes out to those not so fortunate.

Two weeks ago, a lad I know was at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester when it was attacked (a uni student, bless him, he rang his mam, who told him to go straight home because he'd be safe there, so he ran home and locked all the doors, only for swarms of police to descend on his street and carry out a controlled explosion at a house across the road; turns out, he lives in the same street as the terrorist!).

This world is a lot smaller than it sometimes feels.

On Saturday evening, before the bad news broke, I found myself thinking about personal fandom and the cycles it can go through. The Juventus team bus had driven past me the night before, as I was waiting for my bus home from work, and it occurred to me that once upon a time, back in the days of my youth when I was an avid follower of Italian football, I'd have been beyond thrilled to have the Champions League final taking place right here in my hometown. I'd have been so excited that Juventus were here to take part. I'd have followed the preparations for the game avidly, would have wanted to be involved in the four-day football festival, to experience the atmosphere and mingle among the fans. But those days are gone. I drifted away from football fandom quite some time ago, so much so that instead of being excited about the game, I mostly just found it to be a nuisance, upsetting the usual smooth running of my city. Times change, and so does personal fandom.

It got me thinking about the TV shows I've been fannish about, over the years, and how they tend to sit on something a bit like a carousel in my head and heart, circling round and round, in and out of current attention. Not every show I watch and enjoy ends up on the carousel, and I can't always define what it is about the ones which do that makes the difference, why it is that this show I merely enjoy but that one I am a fan of, but once a show is on the fandom carousel, that's it, it's there for good.

But all of those shows can't command my attention all at once, they have to take their turn in the spotlight, as it were. This show might be at the forefront of my attention for a while, but then the carousel will spin again, and I'll get back into an old show I once adored, bringing it circling back into the limelight for a time, or I'll discover a completely new show and fall head over heels, the carousel expanding to make room for it. My fandoms are always in motion, they have to be, because I love a lot of shows but have a strictly finite amount of free time to devote to them, so they have to take their turn.

Some of those turns last rather longer than others.

…perhaps that's why I drifted away from Italian football fandom – I was in it for the 'characters', maybe, that specific generation of players who'd captured my heart, rather than for the clubs or the game itself…so when that particular 'cast' aged out and moved on, so did I. I'd never looked at it like that before.

Football aside, only one show has ever fallen off my personal internal carousel (supernatural, I am looking at you), but some do end up shoved away at the back, out of sight and out of mind. There just aren't enough hours in the day or days in the week – and definitely not enough weekends in the year!
llywela: (seascape-rainbow)
Congratulations to Olympique Lyonnais for their victory in the Women's Champions League final at the Cardiff City Stadium last night!

The traffic disruption around the city is settling down now the road closures and diversions are properly in place - my bus driver last night was jubilant about running on time for the first time in two weeks. I'm still annoyed about the bridge being closed to pedestrians on Wednesday - because, you know, it's a bridge, it's not like you can just nip down the next side street and come out in the same place - and travel around the centre is still a bit awkward, but things are easier now and it will all be over soon enough. The football festival seems to be going well, and the city has filled up with French, Italian and Spanish people here to see the games. I hope they enjoy their stay.

Me, once I get out of the ghost town that is work today, I'm not coming back near the city centre until it's all over!
llywela: peacock in front of Cardiff Castle Keep (Castell Caerdydd)
Rush hour in Wales!

Picture taken at 5.30pm yesterday on the A483 a few miles south of Newtown in Powys. Of all the stereotypically Welsh things that could have happened on a road trip through mid-Wales!

But, you know, just picture the M25 at the same time, and it's not as if we were in a hurry - this was just the start of a very long drive back to Cardiff after a truly lovely day out, so we were quite happy to take our time and watch the farmers and their wonderful sheepdogs at work, mustering the flock from one side of the road to the other.

We had just spent the day at Powis Castle, which is at Welshpool in the north of Powys. It's a long way, there and back in a day, but I've wanted to go for ages, and I've got to say, it was totally worth it - we even had glorious sunshine on a day that saw drizzly dampness across most of the rest of the country. Just look how beautiful!

Picspam continued behind the cut - beware very long post! )

The zen of the lovely day out yesterday was then much needed for dealing with the alarums and excursions of today! A car crashed right outside my office this afternoon. It was a really loud bang, brought people running from all over the building to see what had happened. It didn't look that bad from the vantage point of my window, no one seemed to be seriously hurt, but...our street is one of two main arteries north from the city centre, and we had an emergency response vehicle, two ambulances, police, fire service, all sorts - a nice little blockage just as rush hour hit.

And this was not a good day to block up one of only two main arteries north of the city centre, since the preparations for the Champions League finals have hit a fever pitch, with the four day football festival about to kick off tomorrow. And, you know, I love my city, I'm really glad it's got the chance to host such a prestigious event, and I hope it all goes off smoothly and successfully. I have no doubt that the couple of hundred thousand people flocking into the city for the festival will have a great time…but as a local resident, I'm starting to get a bit frustrated with the mounting disruption and inconvenience. It'll be okay once the road closures and diversions kick in properly, I daresay, it's the preparations that have been so disruptive - key roads narrowed by the fencing and bollards going up ahead of the road closures, but without any mitigation in place, and the centre gets congested enough at the best of times without adding new bottlenecks to the mix.

What really annoyed me today was that the main westbound road out of the city centre was closed, putting the central bridge over the Taff out of action, and by closed I mean closed to pedestrians as well as traffic, which had not been previously communicated - and it's a bridge, it's not like you can just nip down a few side streets and come out in the same place! To get from where I work to where I hoped I might catch my detoured bus meant a huge detour, so huge that it simply wasn't worth it. So I just gave up and walked the whole way home, over an hour's walk, and the congestion I saw along the way was so awful I knew I'd made the right decision, way beyond our usual rush hour jams - not surprising, given that we had westbound road closures, that accident on the northbound road, and the state funeral for former First Minister Rhodri Morgan going on in the Bay to the south!

Speaking of which, RIP, Rhodri, I'll miss bumping into you in Tesco in your shorts and sandals, you always said hello, were the most down-to-earth politician imaginable, and the perfect choice for the very first leader of our devolved government in Wales.

I do sometimes choose to walk home from work, but ordinarily I'd walk through the parks, only on this occasion I couldn't face all the fences and tents set up ready for the football festival, so I stuck to the main road, and along the way actually caught up with and overtook a bus, that's how bad the traffic was. I did consider waiting for it at the next stop, but I'm glad I didn't, since having overtaken it, it then never caught up with me again! And I'd even stopped for an ice cream along the road, and had to wait ages for it because the people ahead of me were chatting to the sales person about the black market price of tickets for the game on Saturday, so the bus had plenty of time to catch me up, but it never did!

Yeah, the traffic disruption caused by the road closures is pretty bad. Sue, Carol – we really, really made the right decision, changing our plans for this weekend! No wonder the roads were gridlocked! Honestly, the difference between 5.30pm in Cardiff today and 5.30pm up in Powys yesterday couldn't be starker!

I just hope there are no more bangs or crashes tomorrow, when the football festival kicks off. Our building has been put into lockdown for Thursday and Friday – staff can get in and out through the access controlled doors, but the main door is to be kept locked, so we can better control who comes in and out of the building. I'm expecting it to be really quiet, though. A lot of our staff will be working from home to avoid the disruption and road closures, and although after the events of last week it is wise to be cautious, I really think this event is too high profile to be considered a soft target. Security is really, really tight, there's been a lot of effort gone into making this a safe, fun event for all the visitors. Here's hoping it goes well!
llywela: peacock in front of Cardiff Castle Keep (Castell Caerdydd)
I really love walking to work. Sure, it takes a bit more effort and organisation, pushing myself to leave the house earlier than normal, but after a difficult or upsetting week, there is nothing more peaceful and relaxing than a gentle stroll through almost three miles of unbroken parkland right at the heart of the city.

Okay, there are a few more tents and fences along the route just at present than would normally be the case, thanks to the football next week, but still. It’s a beautiful walk - and this morning, basking in the sun, really felt like summer! And at the end of the walk, for now, we have this guy - still my favourite thing about the Champions League Final coming to town next week.
llywela: (Musketeers1)

This is the last of the four recap/reviews I managed to put together for The Musketeers before Life intervened - and who knows how long it might be before I manage any more, so at least this is a strong episode to end on, for now.

1x04 The Good Soldier

Recap/Review behind the cut )

On to Part Two
llywela: peacock in front of Cardiff Castle Keep (Castell Caerdydd)
Looks like Cardiff is beginning to gear up for the Champions League Cup Final on 3 June, now that the two finalists have been decided. This is what the castle looks like this morning!

(It was raining when I came past, so my pictures weren't up to much, therefore I've borrowed these from the ilovesthediff blog

Sue, Carol, I think avoiding this weekend for our get-together was a very wise move!
llywela: (seascape-rainbow)
It has been a very long few days, celebrating the 21st birthday of the Small Sis

I feel old now! Ian and I took her to Alton Towers yesterday. Three and a half hours there and then back again, but it was totally the right day to go, a term-time weekday, overcast and a bit chilly - there were no queues for any of the rides, we just went straight onto everything. Even I did most of the big ones, some of them twice!

Today...there was less fun stuff going on, Mum and Dad and Chelsea had to be at the magistrate's court, because Mum and Dad are applying for a child arrangement order for Layla-May, which will give them joint parental responsibility, which is a really long story that I'm not up to going into right now, but it's been bubbling along for some time now and will continue to do so for a while yet, as the magistrate adjourned the hearing for eight weeks while CAFCASS do a report, and anyway, Ian and I took Layla-May out for the day while all that was going on, and she had an absolutely lovely day with 'Doh' and 'Ina' (last week it was 'Ani' - one day she will get all of Ian's syllables in the right order!). We went to Dyffryn House in the Vale of Glamorgan - it's only 20 minutes or so by car, and the weather was glorious, not a cloud in the sky.

Layla had a lovely afternoon. She spent a lot of time playing with dandelions, learning how they work

She took her turn sitting on the old stone lions, just like everyone else in the family before her

She practiced going up and down steps

And up and down, and up and down, and up and down some more! She also had soooo much fun splashing in the fountain in the Pompeian Garden - she does love water, so very much

And then we spent ages watching bugs and leaves floating about in the newt pond, but she wasn't allowed to stick her hands in that one, and because I told her so many times not to go in the water, she started saying it for me! "No-no, Lay, don't go water!" So cute!

We also took some time for a little rest

We are getting more and more sentences these days. "No, I not sleepy!" is a particular favourite. She also cracks baby jokes - she'll lie down and say, "I go sleep," followed by fake snores, which is hilarious if you are only one! She is almost 20 months old, taller than some two-year-olds, with a rapidly growing vocabulary. She's very happy and well-adjusted, which is all thanks to my parents, really, for providing her with such a stable home and a loving upbringing, while her parents take it in turns to flake out. Chelsea is back onto a relatively even keel at the moment, so now Jamie has vanished into the wind. Maybe one day things will settle down a little - here's hoping, for Layla's sake
llywela: peacock in front of Cardiff Castle Keep (Castell Caerdydd)
Today I went for a walk around Margam Park in Port Talbot and ran across a film crew filming…something or other, in what looked like a medieval village mocked up for the occasion.

This is after falling over a film crew in an arcade on my way home from work yesterday
llywela: The Professionals (Pros1)
Sue! A long time ago I promised I would attempt to complete the set of Pros banners I'd once upon a time started making to accompany episode reviews.

No, I haven't actually finished this project, that's going to take a while longer, but I have made a few, with varying degrees of success, so I thought I'd post a first batch to be going on with, just so you know I haven't forgotten. They aren't wonderful, since a) I'd forgotten everything I ever knew about PS, and b) screencaps from a 40-year-old show don't exactly lend themselves to decent art, but I've given it a go!

Banners behind the cut )


llywela: (Default)

October 2017



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