Posted in Personal life

Rain Starts Play

Image by Daniel R. Blume via Flickr

Last weekend torrential rain provided me with a welcome excuse to ignore the laundry (no chance of drying it in this weather) and to disregard the garden (unless I was to take up growing rice). I decided to do some work.

Talk about lack of resolve! Only the day before, I’d vowed to stop working at weekends. When you work from home, it’s too easy to switch on the laptop to check a few emails and end up lured into other, more time-consuming tasks. One thing leads to another – and before you know it, the day is gone.

But this time, it wasn’t to be. I started tapping away at the keyboard, but the screen would barely respond. That irritating on-screen egg-timer kept popping up, slowing down my progress down to a snail’s pace (albeit a snail with touch-typing skills).

It wasn’t my computer that was at fault, unlike my husband’s laptop. He’d immobilised it the night before in an unscheduled scientific experiment. He proved conclusively that a keyboard and a glass of wine don’t mix. It’s still drying out in the conservatory.

To rest my eyes from staring at the locked screen, I gazed out of the window at the hammering rain. And then it struck me: the weather was slowing down the internet. The local weather report revealed 97% humidity. With that much rain in the air, no wonder the signals couldn’t get through.

I logged into Facebook (slowly) to ask whether any of my friends were having the same problem. Eventually, some answers crawled back to me: y…e….s, w…e a…r…e.

Well, no more work for me then. I declared I’d take the rest of the day off. What a welcome change from the usual English summertime cry of “rain stops play”. In my case, rain was stopping work.

And then I realised why the weather was quite so bad: it’s only a week till the start of Wimbledon.

(This post was originally published in Hawkesbury Parish News, July 2011).

Posted in Personal life

My Year In Status

Facebook logo
Image via Wikipedia

When I logged into Facebook early in December, I was invited to create “My Year in Status”.  At the press of a button, there appeared a single page showing a selection of the posts that I’d made during the whole of 2010.  (For those who aren’t familiar with Facebook, a “post” is a message that you type into your Facebook page to update your friends about what you are doing or thinking.)

The result was surprising.   Some things I remembered as if they were yesterday, but others I’d completely forgotten. Parts of my year I barely recognised. I wasn’t the only one taken aback.  Some friends were startled to find that Facebook appeared to think they’d spent the whole year watching telly or boozing.

My Year in Status experience made me realise (a) how quickly a year goes (b) how short life is (c) that to achieve a more favourable Year in Status for 2011, I’d better start planning it now.  So here is how I hope it might read, if all goes according to plan.

“Debbie Young  ….has finally eradicated dandelions and couch grass from her my garden, making way for a bumper crop of home-grown vegetables  …has just completed her first half-marathon within her target time (so the very thorough training paid off)  ….feels calm and refreshed after her daughter’s 8th birthday party ….has renewed her acquaintance with the bottom of the ironing basket  ….earned a fine collection of rosettes in this year’s Village Show  …has a house so clean and tidy that there’s absolutely no more housework she can do  …has completed her Christmas shopping before the end of August  ….feels younger and fresher with every passing year ….is very pleased with her new pet: a flying pig”

Happy New Year, everyone – may 2011 bring you your heart’s desire.

(This post originally appeared in Hawkesbury Parish News, January 2011.)

Posted in Personal life, Travel

Our Global Village

You’d think that the novelty of the internet would have worn off by now.  But every so often, tapping away at my laptop, I’m bowled over at this power we have to be in touch with the rest of the world.

A glance up from my desk reminds me that I’m still in Hawkesbury Upton.  Familiar horses trot past my window; neighbours flit up France Lane to the shop.  Exotic, it ain’t.

star trek
Image by Combined Media via Flickr

But, look back at my screen, and I can be anywhere in the world.  It’s like having my own personal teleporter: beam me up, Scottie, I think I’ll take a trip to Seattle.

A message has pinged in to my email box from an old school friend who lives there.   As our village heads towards bedtime, she’s just settling down for her lunch.  By the power of Facebook, we bounce one-liners off each other as easily as if we were in the same room.  We’re as closely in touch as when we were children, talking to each other in the garden through tin cans linked together with string.  Except, on the internet, the message comes through more clearly.

Clicking on my website traffic report, I find visitors from three different continents.  From Korea to Kansas, from Dubai to Dubrovnik, people have been checking me out, even though I don’t know a soul in Seoul.

The news I pick up through this route is not the stuff that national headlines are made of.    Food, drink, weather, hatches and matches are the most frequent topics of the posts by my Facebook friends.

But the sense of a unified, peaceable community, reaching way beyond our own Hawkesbury Upton, is overwhelming and enormously heartening.

There’s still nowhere else I’d rather live, of course.  But it still feels good to extend the  village boundaries across the ether now and again.

(This post was originally published in the August edition of the Hawkesbury Parish News.)