Lance Armstrong and Arduinos

Lance Armstrong; how very disappointing.

The arduino, purchased as a Christmas present for one of my children, has been a huge success and will pass into family legend as one of the most successful Christmas gifts ever.  It has occupied minds and resulted in hours spent on the computer, not in addicted and anti-social game playing, but in thoughtful and detailed programming.

We have been treated to speakers blaring, lights flashing in a variety of combinations as well as for varying lengths of time, and planned projects for movement sensors and remote controlled everything.  I have learnt the importance of brackets, spacing and repeated lines of code; it’s all a foreign language to me, but the general air of industry is gratifying to behold.

I wonder if Mr Armstrong’s thirteen year old son, who has defended him so vigorously and for so long, is finding joy and comfort in the gifts which he received at Christmas.  I sincerely hope that there is something, during this very confusing and difficult period of his life, which is bringing interest, distraction and bright dreams.

As parents, our responsibility and duty to be role models brimming with integrity and authenticity can never be overstated.

Live well, not merely for your own sake, but for that of the vulnerable and hopeful folk who are watching you.



Back To Builders!

Quite frankly, one knows that things are bad when the builder appears – little boy like with sweating palms and in shorts – and timidly presents a bill for an exorbitant and completely unexpected amount.  One knows that things are truly catastrophic when close inspection, of said bill, reveals that many completed tasks have actually been missed off and the figures recorded are so conservative, that he must be subsidising the project! 

“Pay the builder!” I hear you shriek – and I don’t blame you.  Yes, he has confirmed his status as a guardian angel and I will pay him as soon as I can, without having to sell a child or an organ to raise the sum. 

The lesson to be learnt is one of trust; there really are some wonderful people out there.  Don’t allow experience to blind you to the diamonds amidst the dirt.



Back To The House Renovation!

I hope that your week has been a peaceful and successful one. 

Here, almost all the stained glass windows have been re-leaded and cleaned.  Our specialist, Paul Bradbury, is very talented and I wholeheartedly recommend him to you.  The final window – on the second floor half landing – is dark and a completely different style from all the other stained glass in the house.  At Paul’s suggestion, we are removing the panes and using them as display items.  In their stead, we will have a commissioned piece.

Allowing the house to relate its history has been a driving force of this project.  Whilst we have no intention of replacing or reinventing lost features, integrity demands that we preserve as much as possible and sympathetically include further beautiful and useful additions.  Including a new window, which fills the top floor with light and elegance, helps with that aspiration.

The week witnessed the flooding of the kitchen, as a lead pipe broke (whilst being replaced) in the bathroom above.  Disasters frequently present themselves as a conclusion to the “school run”; approaching the house at 9am-ish and 3.30pm-ish, usually leaves me pondering which part of the fabric of the building – and/or which builder – will be in a less desirous state than when I left!    “To be fair” (a local colloquialism), almost all disasters are due to the parlous state in which the house was maintained for a large part of the last 42 years.  Slowly, but surely, the neglect is giving way to a phoenix-like transformation.

By being completely oneself, we give permission to others to be entirely who they were created to be, rather than the façade which the world forces upon them.  My final struggle, during the last 7 days, relates to this belief and the subject of flooring.  Having been guided by my guardian angel builder for 8 weeks, it was time for me to assert my preferences, tastes and opinions.  I can’t afford Amtico for the bathrooms and the Karndean, I liked, blew the budget at a whopping £40 per square metre – minus the trim, contrasting edging and fitting.  Add to that, the limited range and it was back to faithful lino or vinyl. 

Well, well, well, hasn’t vinyl changed?  The vinyls, I chose, came in a range of fabulous colours (with embedded glitter for candlelit pazazz) and were not masquerading as stone, wood or anything else!  They have 15 year guarantees, so who could ask for more?  How many people would be averse to changing a floor every 15 years, especially when the expected lifespan of even a “top-of-the-range” cooker is less than that? 

So, as I return to the “patchworking” of the cloakroom walls – a notion adopted from Jocasta Innes – remember, assert yourself; restored stained glass is gorgeous and vinyl is NOT the second-rate option.