Mr 7’s Operating System

Mr 7 desperately wants to write an operating system. He wants to build a computer as well, but  totally from scratch, none of this getting chips manufactured elsewhere business, or buying drives or cables. None of us have any idea how to achieve that, so at the moment the focus is completely software.

He has written his first ‘operating system’. I did point out that as it runs on Windows, it isn’t an operating system. This, apparently, is a small detail.

It is a script which allows you to type various commands and alter various settings, and he would love for you to try it:


Please feel free to download it and try it out, but please, only if you are comfortable with using a command window and aren’t expecting a nice graphical interface and don’t mind killing off your Windows Explorer!

Here are his instructions:

Hi Please read all text
so the commands are
note:don’t switch user if every day operating system
If you use unknown_command remember it only effects once and then does not effect
If you want it to be your every day operating system
Put the operating system in your downloads
Extract the zip
Create a shortcut of planetorange.cmd
Put the shortcut in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
and restart, logoff or shutdown
your pc and your done
If you want to be able to use it but do not want it as your every day operating system
Put it in downloads
Extract the zip
and to use the operating system run planetorange.cmd
if you accidentally click the red x then press Ctrl + alt + del
then click taskmanager and press file then new task and enter explorer.exe
Have Fun! If you do try it out, let us know what you think. Mr 7 would love to have ideas for improvement.
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Alton Towers Revisited

On Friday we headed off to Alton Towers. We had waited all summer for the weather predictions to be good enough for me to book a day off work, and ended up going on the final day of the holidays once all other options had passed by. As it happens, it was the perfect day to go.

The wonderful people at Worcestershire County Council gave us a school start date a day or two later than most other counties, and the weather reports were predicting rain. It did not rain. It was cool enough that I needed to wear a coat, so I could carry keys and wallet in zipped pockets and didn’t need to carry a bag. The crowds stayed away.

There were no queues. I can’t quite believe I have been able to say that. I have never been to a theme park before and had to queue so little. Last time we were there we managed to go on about 8 rides. This time, well I haven’t totted it up yet, so here goes:

Nemesis x 3
Air x 3
Battle Galleons
Runaway Mine Train
The Flume
Skyride (we count this, as it took as much persuading to get Mr 7 on it as any other)
Marauders Mayhem
Heave Ho
Sharkbait Reef
Twirling Toadstool
Driving School
Oblivion x 2
Sonic Pinball
In the Night Garden
Nina and the Neurons

Nemesis is brilliant. It has been brilliant for 21 years. I bet there aren’t many roller coasters that are just as exciting two decades after they were first installed. It wasn’t my favourite, though.

My favourite is Air. I have never been on a coaster like it before. It is as close to flying as I will ever get. Absolutely fantastic. I was a bit nervous when I first saw how the seats tilted to suspend you face down, but the experience was amazing.

We last went there two years ago, having paid £8.50 of Tesco Clubcard for each of our tickets. It has taken us this long to save up our next batch of clubcard vouchers as we now only shop at Tesco for coffee, chicken pies and other odds and ends. In the meantime, Miss 12 reached the magic 1.4m. It makes such a difference to her being able to go on the big rides.

Mr 7 has not changed so much. He still dislikes most rides. We had trouble persuading him onto anything, and the list above is not really an accurate view of our day. On all but four of those rides we had at least two people standing and waiting while the others went on the ride.

The Skyride cable car was a notable exception. We persuaded Mr 7 on to it, and he spent the whole ride asking questions. Why were other people in our carriage? Why was there a recorded narration being played? Why did the narration start again even though the ride hadn’t finished? Why did the car just stop? If a cable broke, would we crash to the ground?

His objection to the little rides in CBeebies land was that he has too big to like CBeebies. Oh well. He seemed quite happy with his day, watching everyone else have fun. And he did have his fair share of doughnuts!

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In the springtime, there are few more lovely places than the English countryside. We have been getting out more, prising tablets and phones from the children’s hands and walking through fields and woods.

Bluebell WoodLast week we walked round Dumbleton Woods. I love bluebells and I love woodland. And on this particular walk, the children did not complain once, which is a first. I think some sort of a medal might be in order.


This week our walk was more through farmland, although it did take in a couple of beautiful little villages, both of which I wouldn’t mind living in if I suddenly found myself far more affluent than I am now.

One of the villages is called Kineton, and has a very picturesque ford. I would have taken a photo, but a family was there, paddling in the water with their golden retriever and Iggle Piggle in a boat toy, and I’m not in the habit of photographing other people’s toddlers. I must go back there one day and get some photos. We might also pop into the pub, which has a rather nice looking beer garden.

Now I have to plan some more walks. It is very easy, after a busy (yet sedentary) week at work for me to just sit back and enjoy being at home. I love being at home, with no need to go out. It takes getting out, enjoying the countryside and feeling good about being active, to remind me it’s better than staying in all weekend.


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Art Exhibition

Yesterday we went to an art exhibition. The Artrix Centre in Bromsgrove always has an exhibition of art on display, and at the moment the featured artist is my sister in law, Claire.

Here are some of her pieces:

Picture 1Picture 2Picture 3

This is just a taster! You really have to see the work up close to appreciate the complexity. These are most definitely mixed media pieces, and each time you look you see a detail, a texture, a layer that you hadn’t seen before. These are all about texture and colour.

If you like these, and want to look at some more, visit her here.

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Summer Dress – McCalls M6557

McCalls M6557

I’ve been busy! I bought the pattern and fabric for this dress ages ago, when I happened to go into a shop and discover a half price sale on fabric. I love the 1950s full skirts and definite waistlines, so it was a great pattern for me. I looked for a fabric for the waistband as well, but there were none in the shop where I bought the main fabric.

The next time I was in the other fabric shop in town, I looked for a contrast fabric for the waist. They had no suitable pinks and no suitable greens, and I came away with half a metre of lilac fabric, which I thought was OK at first, but as time passed and I still didn’t make the dress I grew increasing unhappy with my choice. Eventually I made a special visit to Alcester to find an alternative fabric, and I came home with the green you see above.

So I made the dress. It took me a day, which at my speed is quite an impressive feat. The top is lined, so I have done my first ever lining. I have also made my first ever buttonhole!


See! After owning my sewing machine, which has a perfectly good buttonhole foot and stitch settings for making them, for 15 years, I have finally put in a buttonhole. I am ridiculously pleased with it even though it wouldn’t stand close scrutiny. That’s one sewing fear conquered.

One thing I was not so happy with was the sizing. This is the third pattern in a row I have made to the size the packet tells me I need to based on my measurements that I have then had to take in. My lesson is learned! From now on I will make the size I would pick off a rack in a shop. They must put a huge amount of ease in these patterns. However, it’s fine now, and if no-one looks too closely at the inside they probably wouldn’t know.

I think I might make another dress to this pattern – possibly in a less bold fabric, so it’s more an everyday wear, and definitely in the smaller size!

All that said, I love this dress – now I just need to be invited to a garden party to have somewhere to wear it out to!

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Reading with Children

Anyone in the UK with school age children, or anyone who has had school age children in the last -oh, goodness knows how many years, will probably be familiar with the Oxford Reading Tree. It’s a great load of books. There are lots of good stories, and enough variety to satisfy anyone. Many have been released which follow the phonics systems in use now, and I am sure there are new books being written all the time. I am now very familiar, being on my third reading of some of them.

Most of the time, the books come home from school, get read, get a comment in the reading record and go back to school.

Sometimes a book comes home which makes you think about how life has changed. When you have to explain the front cover before opening the book, perhaps an update is necessary.


Questions this book may raise:

What’s that? Phone boxes. I can’t remember the last time I saw one. In this book there are three all within running distance.

What’s a phonecard? I guess if you have no more phone boxes, you have no more phone cards. However, Mr 7 did understand the concept of the pre-pay card as he has experience of the Google Play store.

Why didn’t the old lady have a phone in her house? I can remember a time when I was a child when we didn’t have a phone. Back in my early childhood we moved house and had to wait until the new telephone exchange was built before getting a phone line. Nowadays I could count on my big toes the people I know who don’t have a landline. Apparently, this is becoming more usual again as people rely on mobiles rather than landlines (not surprising when it recently cost me five times as much to make a short local call on my land line as it would have on my mobile).

What’s a phone book? I don’t think Mr 7 has ever seen one in use.

Why didn’t the kids just call on their mobiles? Back in the old days…

How did the ambulance get to the house before the kids had walked back? Now that’s a whole different set of questions and answers!

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Merry Christmas!

Santa Letter

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