31 January 2017

Changing Passwords

We are still not quite into the finger-tip tantalisingly close season of Spring, so need a bit of cheering up to cope with the grey skies and gloom, not to mention endless reports about Brexit and Trump.  A friend sent me the following which apparently won Best Joke in a competition. I'm sure we've all experienced this......

WINDOWS: Please enter your new password.
USER: cabbage
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.
USER:  boiled cabbage
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.

USER: 1 boiled cabbage
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces.
USER:  50bloodyboiledcabbages
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one uppercase character.
USER: 50BLOODYboiledcabbages
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot use more than one uppercase character consecutively.
USER:   50BloodyBoiledCabbagesYouStupidIdiotGiveMeAccessNow!
WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.
USER :  IWillHuntYouDown50BloodyBoiled CabbagesYouStupidIdiotGiveMeAccessNow
WINDOWS: Sorry, that password is already in use. 


23 January 2017

On the wild side

It's been quite chilly in London for the last few weeks. It's noteworthy because our winters here have been a lot milder over the last decade or so, with only the occasional flurry of snow. Other countries can run quite efficiently with snow reaching depths of several feet and even to the North of Britain, deep snow is quite the norm, but at the sight of the first snowflake we southern wimps go into panic mode and despair. Roads are gritted with mine-fulls of salt to cope with the half-dozen flakes that settle on the ground and commuter trains grind to a halt unable to cope with the wrong sort of snow. Is there a right sort?

That said, this winter it has been unusually frosty since Christmas and I have been leaving the heating on 24-hours (reducing temperature at night) in case the water pipes decide to freeze and spring a leak when they thaw. Each morning I wake to dazzling white frosty roads, white grass and cars looking like they have been dusted with icing sugar. We have also been blessed with clear blue skies and by mid-morning the sun has melted any ice to give the plants in the garden a chance to rally round.

However I have been feeling sorry for the wild life. I love the squirrels that now visit my garden. I could never encourage them before when I had a dog and a cat as both hated squirrels with a passion and the dog would hurl himself at the patio window in an attempt to get at them, forgetting there was glass between them. The cat would hide incognito among the shrubs in wait for them, so any decent squirrel who wanted to see another day became used to avoiding our garden. Now my dog and cat have passed over the rainbow bridge, I recently decided to buy bags of peanuts for the squirrels to fatten them up over this cold spell. I painstakingly hide the nuts between the garden tubs on the patio, so the birds cannot get at them. Each day at breakfast time, I often come down to the kitchen to find at least one if not five squirrels waiting patiently for me to throw the nuts out for them. They sit on their haunches munching away until they are full, then take the remainder to bury for another time.  Some are now so tame, they no longer scamper away when I throw out more nuts for them. We are slowly getting to know one another. I study them while I sit inches away  on the other side of the patio door and have my breakfast.

But now I have also started feeling sorry for the birds. Not wanting to deprive the squirrels of their peanuts, I  have added bird seed to my weekly shopping list. I watch while the pigeons, blackbirds, thrushes, jays, magpies, parakeets, crows and two robins peck hungrily away at the spread on the ground, while the squirrels weave back and forth between them. Word is spreading as more birds seem to arrive each day. There's a good cafe five gardens to the right of the big chestnut tree. Plenty of seed and plenty of nuts. Come and join us. I like to think I'm doing my bit to keep their tummies full and survive the harsh winter. (OK, well, harsh by London standards!)

Apologies for the quality of the photos but they were taken through the patio window glass on zoom lest I scared them all away.....
Where's breakfast?

Oh, there it is

brown pigeons

One of two robins that usually come together


Two of the five squirrels have turned up. I cannot photo them all in the same place as they are so skittish, duck and dive all over the place, and run off to hide their finds.

Nom, this nut is so tasty

Hi. Any chance of some more?

I need both paws to hold this one.

Image result for jay
of course the jay did not turn up as I was taking photos, so  you will just have to believe me, but here's one I grabbed from the internet, courtesy of mbaker.co.uk

11 January 2017

Blooming marvellous

I live in London - one of the biggest cities in the world. I have lived in my current house on a wide tree-lined avenue for the last 29 years, having moved here shortly before Kay was born. I've seen many changes to the area over those 29 years,  in terms of new housing, changes in shop ownership in the High Street, introduction of one-way traffic systems, new night clubs and new schools to name but a few. But recently just a wee bit down the road from me, one community-spirited man has started planting flowers underneath the chestnut trees on the public grass verges that line the bit of the avenue outside where he lives. 

He has even planted herbs and put a small sign (and two pairs of scissors) beside them, inviting people to snip off any herbs they fancy as they pass (you can just make out the bright green and red scissor handles in the front of the photo). 

It makes me feel warm inside. We might be a huge city, but it takes one person to make all the difference. I hope his idea catches on and some jobsworth at the local council doesn't decide to slap a fine on him for contradiction of some by-law or another.

01 January 2017

Happy New Year

Well, I can't say I am sorry to see the back of 2016. It was a horrible year personally with major surgery and not so good for others either. The list of celebrity deaths in my newspaper was amazingly long. Big household names went one after another. The Syrian war scaled new depths and showed man's inhumanity to man. Brexit and the American elections turned everything on its head and made the unthinkable became possible. The year ended with a trip to A&E with my mother to sort out a swollen and very painful leg which masqueraded as DVT. Thankfully it turned out to be no more than cellulitis.

I have just returned home having spent the New Year with dear friends in Brighton.  We ate loads and drank loads and welcomed in the New Year with gusto. Good riddance to 2016 and hopes for better health and luck in 2017. That goes for you all.