Peony

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I have a beautiful peony. This picture is from April when the peony was in full bloom. This is the height of its prettiness. And that was all. Every year it has one flower. Just the one. And usually that single flower lasts only a couple of days before the wind or rain damages it.

Not long after planting this peony, I also planted some bamboo plants. Now the bamboo plants have spread, and I always meant to move the peony before the roots got too entwined, but I kept forgetting, or sighing at how difficult our soil is to dig, and neglecting to do it. Now I fear it is too late for that.

There was one good side effect from their closeness. This year the peony flower lasted nearly a fortnight, and it was nothing to do with any unusually pleasant weather. The bamboo stalks supported the flower, so even through wind and rain, the bloom was undamaged, so a win for my laziness!

If I could only work out what to do to encourage it to have more than one flower, I would be truly delighted!

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Couch to 5k (Again)

I am desperately unfit. I was never fit, but then I went to work full time three years ago, and the reasonable amount of exercise I used to do on school runs and gardening and walking into town now and again melted away to be replaced by sitting at a desk for 8 hours. It felt bad. I could feel myself getting more lethargic, and less inclined to do things when I had the opportunity. So, change is needed, I thought.

I remembered that about five years I had started on the C25K running plan, and it had seemed to be a good scheme to start in a small way. You can read about the first try here.

I didn’t get on very far beyond that post last time. The difficulty of fitting in the running when I didn’t have a four year old in hand was just too much, and combined with the genius of starting in mid winter – well. Suffice to say I had no idea how the running programme progressed beyond week two.

So recently, determination refreshed, I downloaded the app, and Mr PC and I embarked on our own fitness crusade.We started it again a few weeks ago. I was absolutely shocked at how badly I started! I barely ran for 3 and a half of the 8 one minute runs. It was appallingly, terrifyingly bad. I could not believe that I had let myself get to that level of unfitness. It took me three weeks until I could complete the week one runs.

For this scheme, you are supposed to run 3 times a week, gradually increasing the run:walk ratio until you can run for half an hour. And it should take 9 weeks overall. I suspect I might take a bit longer!

Week two was not quite as bad. It only took four runs instead of the planned three to feel like I could move on. Week three we have completed in the allotted time,  so I am quite chuffed about that. Now I am dreading week four.

This is when the runs begin to get longer. Up until now I have been able to prod myself onwards by thinking things like ‘only 20 more breaths until I can walk…19 …18’. I don’t think this will work on a 5 minute run, and I am going to have to find some way to distract myself while I’m running so I stop thinking about every step. Perhaps I should find myself some lively music to listen to.

I am determined to get there this time, though. I have one thing that I didn’t have last time, and that is someone else alongside me, doing the same thing. And even though he is fitter than me, and could race through the programme much faster, Mr PC slows himself down to stay alongside, and we keep an eye on each other and we will make sure that we both make it all the way to 5k.

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Sock Knitting

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I am knitting a sock. At the moment it is just one sock because I have managed to lose my second ball of wool. I am in two minds at the moment what to do. The other ball of wool must be around somewhere, it really can’t have gone far, but I have hunted in all the usual places for it and it is nowhere to be found.

I quite like this sock. It would be a bit of a shame to rip it back (and I’m sure if I did, the rest of the wool would magically appear). So, do I spend the hours finishing the one sock, in the hope that eventually I will be able to make the pair, or that odd socks will suddenly become de rigueur? Or do I abandon it and not waste any more time on something which may never be useful?

It is not the worst problem in the world to have, I know, but just one more thing which trickles through my mind every time I glance in the direction of the temporarily-abandoned-work pile.

What to do?

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Painting and Decorating

I have just had a couple of days off work. We even got a bit of sunshine which is always hit and miss even in the summer holidays. However, I didn’t get to see much of the sun.

I have been painting.

When we moved into this house five years ago all the walls were magnolia. The standard colour. The same as almost every other new build, and rather a lot of the older housing stock in this country. I decided to eradicate it. I was going to get rid of every trace of the ubiquitous magnolia. Five years on, until this weekend I had repainted a total of two rooms.

Miss 14 had her bedroom painted a few years ago, a colour which was originally planned to be teal but ended up being Mediterranean Sea, or some such colour. It was vibrant, whatever it was called.

The living room is Soft Stone, which is another reasonably boring neutral, but we are stuck with our old sofas until we can trust our cat not to scratch new ones to shreds, and had to pick something which would go.

So both the girls wanted their bedrooms painted. Miss 15 was overdue for some colour on her walls, so I agreed. Miss 14 had for a long while come to hate the bluey-green of her room, and because she settled on the same colour as Miss 15 I agreed to do both.

Incidentally, unless you love painting and have the time to do it, never let an eleven year old choose how to decorate their room. It won’t stay in favour long. Actually, I already knew that, but chose to ignore it in my delight at painting aver the magnolia. Now, a few years later I have paid the price.

Guess what colour they chose. Of all the wonderful ranges of exciting colours they could go for, they chose … white.

White.

Apparently all the instagrammers and you-tubers they follow have white walls so that they can change the look with the seasons, or some such excuse to encourage people to spend more money on frivolous nick-nacks. I now suspect I will have to fend off petitions for strings of led lights with copper wire and heart shaped cushions and cute candle holders.

Miss 15’s room was finished first. It went very well, and as we had bought a high opacity paint it only took one coat to cover the room. The other room, though! Oh my word! Covering up that blue was quite a challenge. It took three coats to cover it completely. As I said, I have now paid for the blue in my time and tired muscles. I am sure of one thing – I will never paint that room again. It is staying white forever.

Tomorrow I will be back at work having a bit of a rest.

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Back Again

So it has been almost two years since I last posted here, and a lot longer than that since I took this blogging thing seriously. Well, seriously is not the right word, because this was always just a little space to write about the odds and ends of daily life. A diary of sorts, because I do not keep a diary, and public, because I have so little human interaction that it felt nice to have a conversation, even if that conversation was online.

Now I work full time, and I have more time spent around other humans, but less around those who share interests with me. The people at work are all friendly and nice, but none of them sew, we don’t discuss books we have read and I don’t go to the pub with the boys and socialise over a pint.

So here I am back again. And I’m going to be good this time, I promise, and keep writing!

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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:

Url:https://drive.google.com/a/planetcoops.com/folderview?id=0B0diLww88OFlflk1dkJsaFdnSG02NnBLQXhwM1VMVWNZMXd0dGd2ZVhILVdSdFdRSVJ3WnM&usp=sharing

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
create
files
unknown_command
info
windows
stop_windows
help
restart
shutdown
logoff
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
Rita
Th13teen
Blade
Battle Galleons
Duel
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
Hex
Oblivion x 2
Sonic Pinball
Octonauts
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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