Sunday, February 04, 2007

Important news about Blue Magnolia - please read

For a variety of reasons that may be discussed in an upcoming post, but mainly on a whim, I've decided to move Blue Magnolia over to WordPress. This decision has cost me several hours of my life and probably will many more, but hey, it feels pretty good. My blog can now permanently be found looking lovely at

I may come to regret this decision, I may not. But that's for another post.

RSS readers: redirect your reader to

Alas, poor worms, I knew them well

A while ago I reported with much excitement the new friends to be found under my kitchen sink - I got worms. It was with innocent green enthusiasm that I set up my little wormery, fed my composting buddies daily, and fed the 'worm juice' to my plants.

I'm sure you can sense the 'but' coming.

Sadly, my wormies died. I'm not completely sure what happened - they may have drowned because I didn't empty liquid often enough. Alas, they just seemed to not be there any more. So my wormery composted what waste it already had slowly without worms for a while, survived a move to a new flat and has sat unattended under the sink for a few months.

Until yesterday. I cleaned it out in the bathroom (the joys of living in a flat), and was pleasantly surprised to find some good quality compost lurking at the bottom. It's now set up ready and waiting for some new tiger worms to arrive in the post. Yes, in the post.

Is there anything you can't buy on the internet?

Needless to say this time around the little things will be getting extra loving attention because I don't want to feel like a failure again. More importantly, I want to report my amazing successes so that I can persuade other people to go out and get worms. Worms are great.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth was not the film I thought it was going to be. It wasn't a fantasy-fest of amazing costumes, creepy characters and spooky lighting. It was sometimes those things, but it was so much more as well. It wasn't another Labyrinth at all.

Ofelia is a young girl with a dead father, a sick mother and a murderous step father. The world she lives in is a constant struggle of misery and fear. So sinister fairies and a pale, hooved faun don't scare her when they come beckoning - they are portends of another world she longs to escape to.

Unlike Labyrinth, a large proportion of the story takes place in the real world, where the Spanish civil war is barely over and guerillas are hiding in the hills. Only Ofelia knows the secret of what lies in the woods behind the makeshift army base that she is forced to call home. If she can complete the tasks the mysterious faun has given her, she will become a princess, the heir to a hidden kingdom with all the happiness that entails. Or will she?

Pan's Labyrinth is a magical tale of hope and innocence. While everyone around her is preoccupied with death and violence, Ofelia perseveres for something better. The film is dark, brutal, but ultimately uplifting. A real original.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Back again

Where have all my comments gone? This must be my punishment for nelgecting my blog for three months.

I've been busy. I can now knit socks and play Ode to joy on classical guitar. Thought the blogging thing was gone for ever. I was wrong. Oooooooo, that was all a bit W.H. Auden.

Wish I could think of a 'thing' for this post. But I can't. Oooooooo, that was all a bit Keith and Orville.

I think I'd better stop now, and come back when I've got something sensible to say. Ooooooo, that was all a bit..... No, really. Stop. Talking to myself now. Stop it. Stop. 'Stop' spells 'pots' backwards. Stop. .

Friday, September 29, 2006

WeeMee Librarian

My blog now has a WeeMee, and the wee me has a pile of books. I might have mentioned that I'm a Librarian.

I'm not to sure what this thing is for, but it certainly brightens up the page, don't you think? Sunshine and grass and a butterfly. A cartoon version of me looking a bit embarrassed and shy, holding a pint of Guinness.

I feel a rant coming on: It's crap being shy and being a Librarian, because everyone nods knowingly when you tell them what you do. For your information, smiling-knowingly people, all the librarians I work with are incredibly loud, outgoing and wouldn't say ssshhhhhh if you paid them. Well, maybe if you paid them.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

It's almost like being a Librarian

Want to find out what it's like to be a Librarian? Visit LibraryThing and catalogue all your books. Copy catalogue that is. Don't worry, it's LibrarianSpeak.

Among other cool things you can do with their service if you so desire is create a widget for your blog to show people random books from your collection. I fooled the system to have it show only the one book that I'm reading now, which was very clever of me. I did this by only bothering to add one book to my account. Sneaky.

Tomorrow I get to catalogue things for real, and classify them too. Labels, lots of labels. Tidying. Chocolate biscuits (sorry, that should read no eating in the Library). Talking on the telephone to very odd people. Fixing the computers. Phoning the IT guys to ask them to come and fix the computers properly. Laughing at other people's cataloguing errors. Finding missing books. Writing reports about missing books. Moving things. Writing incredibly informative leaflets and deciding what colour paper to print them out on. Delegating the photocopying and folding of leaflets to someone else. Organisation, that's what it's all about.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Talk to George

Talk to George. He can be a bit daft, but he's ok. It's a bit like talking to a crazy person.

Is he meant to look like Richard O'Brien?

Friday, September 15, 2006

I love labelling

The Librarian in me loves Google's new image labeler. I don't care if I'm basically serving as cheap labour for an image labelling project, it's fun an addictive and this post is going to be short so I can get back to it.

The idea is that you and one other person are shown the same image from the web. You both type in tags (or index terms in librarianspeak) that you think are suitable for the image, and when you have a matching tag, the image changes. This goes on for 90 seconds and you get points for each match. When the time is over, you can see your score, the top scores for the day, and a list of the top all time scorers. Note: you'll need to sign up for a Google account if you want to appear in the lists as something more interesting than guest.

Sometimes it's unbelievably frustrating, for a few reasons. The "game" doesn't know what the image is; that's the point - a large proportion of the images on the web appear to be really boring groups of people standing around having their photo taken, or worse company logos and the like. My screen is tiny and sometimes I can't tell what the piccy is actually of. And sometimes you get paired with a complete idiot who doesn't know what the moon looks like.

But I love it. Unfortunately I've spent so long writing this post that I have to go to work now and be a real Librarian. Hmmmph.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Greennettle flies

Judging by my last few posts you'd think my name ought to be Greennettle, not Bluenettle, as the environment seems to be my only inspiration at the moment. That's no bad thing.

But Greennettle looks silly because it has an annoying double n in the middle and it's plainly dull because nettles really are green. Whoever heard of a blue nettle? Exactly. I'm unique.

Maybe tomorrow I might think of a different theme. Today I'm going to tell you how to feel better about flying (did you know one flight to somewhere not that far away is the equivilant per passenger, pollution wise, of driving a Mini around the world ninety-ish times? I forget the details but it was on the front page of The Independent not that long ago) by "neutralising" your carbon emissions.

Climate Care will calculate your carbon dioxide emissions (not just from flying, but that's where my guilt lies) and let you buy offsets which will go to fund sustainable energy projects to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the same amount. There are other companies that offer similar things, but I liked Climate Care the best. You don't get a fancy paper certificate like some companies offer (nice email tho), but that's nothing to fret over. And it's all so simple.

If you don't know too much about this type of thing and think it's probably expensive - it's not (although Climate Care have a minimum purchase of £5). I don't think it will be long before all airlines are offering offsets as a part of their ticket prices. Although I'm sure they'll get an "administrative fee" in there as well, as always.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Green wars

No sooner have supermarket giant Tesco announced that all of us loyal and environmentally friendly customers are going to be getting clubcard points for reusing bags (prompting inner cries of We're not just doing it for the points, we always bring our own bags! from Bluenettle. Besides, what am I going to do with three clubcard points?), arch rivals Sainsbury's announce they're going to start using compostable packaging for their fruit and veg instead of plastic. Now, there's nothing more annoying than finding there's no loose tomatoes and having to take home a bunch of unecessary packing too, but at least now I can feed the packet to the worms.

Except I hate Sainsbury's. I'm the exact opposite of a Sainsbury's Snob. So I dearly hope Tesco will follow suit soon, as they surely will. This could be the new supermarket "war" - not petrol, not baked beans, but being nice to the environment.

The baked beans war was exciting though, wasn't it? You arrived at the supermarket each week holding your breath to see how cheap the beans were. 1p! 1p for a tin of beans! The best bargain of all time. Some small teenie weenie chain that I completely forget the name of actually started paying their customers 1p to take a tin of beans away. With limitations, of course, which was a shame.

Back to the point, it's a good state of affairs to be in when people are so concerned about taking care of the world that supermarket chains are using environmentally friendly ideas to woo customers. Or at least to keep the ones they've got.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Go and see Little Miss Sunshine. Now.

Never since I heart Huckabees have I felt so happy after seeing a film. Time and money well spent.

Here's how to go to the cinema if you're uninitiated in the film-going ways:

Arrive nice and early to buy your tickets, because you don't want to miss out. While you're waiting for the film to start, wander around the corner to Borders and sit on the floor in the knitting section. It doesn't have to be knitting - whatever your current obssession, indulge it. At the alotted time saunter back to the cinema and pay close attention to the trailers, because you never know what's coming up (currently liking the look of Children of men, Right at your door and The Queen. Enjoy the film. When it's over, enjoy the sights and smells of a city centre late at night, dodge the crazy people and head for a quiet pub. Order a pint of real ale and discuss the film and anything else you fancy with your companion(s). Buy some chips from the kebab van while you're waiting for the bus home if you must.

Write a blog post about it when you get in.

No more almost-vegetarianism

A few months ago I wrote a post about my gradual rise from murderous meat eater to hypocritical, fish eating, leather shoe wearing almost-vegetarian.

I am happy to report that since then I have graduated to real vegetarian with non-leather shoes and a couple of pairs of leather shoes that will be biting the dust as soon as they're old and battered enough that getting rid of them isn't incredibly environmentally unfriendly-ly wasteful. My cool brown retro Skechers are going to be replaced by this fantastic number from Vegetarian Shoes, who have already happily supplied me with my boring normal works shoes (I also considered buying their wacky clown shoes and wish I had, just to make people go Oooooo) and the best vegetarian walking boots in the world ever.

I also own a pair of vegan Earth Shoes (beware, not all of their range is vegan) that are a bit shiny red for me but I got for an absolute bargain price so I can't complain. Good for the back apparently, but I'm too embarrassed by the redness to have worn them enough to notice. Also, the fact that the inverted heel is so low means that my trousers drag even more hopelessly along the floor than usual when I wear them. What can I say, I'm short. But I do love them, I love them a lot.

So, shoes. I wrote a post about shoes (which so isn't what I was planning on writing about today). I have therefore also graduated, in a slightly longer period of time, from football obsessed tomboy to almost-girl, who still likes football quite a lot but has also taken up knitting and sometimes wears a top with flowers on it. Flowers.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Got worms?

So, you recycle your paper, tins and glass, maybe plastic if your local council are so inclined. You give your old clothes to Oxfam, or perhaps you take them to one of those big metal bins that say DO NOT ENTER on the giant flap, and wonder who is was that did. You probably send off your used printer cartridges for recycling, maybe your old mobile phones too (check out Envirophone, who will not only recycle your phone but pay you for the privilege... unless it's really crap like my old Sony J5, in which case they'll still take it, but you'll get nowt. Either way, come to think of it, you're probably better off selling on ebay, which is a kind of recycling when you think about it). Basically, you're doing your bit and you feel pretty good about it.

Still, there's probably one type of waste that you stick in the trash without even thinking about it: food. No matter how much you try not to be wasteful, sometimes your eyes are bigger than your belly and you end up with half a plate full of stir fry/omlette/stale chocolate cake that no one is ever going to eat. And even the best cooks leave behind skins and peelings and horrible hard bits on a daily basis. How can you get rid of this without filling up landfills and incinerators? One word: worms (unless you have a greedy dog. If you do, read on anyway).

I know, I know, you haven't got room for a wormery, you haven't got a garden. What if I told you you can keep a wormery indoors? Really, I didn't know either. Still not sure you've got space? Small kitchen? My thoughts exactly, before I did a bit of research and discovered Original Organics' Junior Wormery. Now I have worms worming away under my kitchen sink!

Here's how it came together:

1. I surfed the net and bought the wormery online from Original Organics website. Because we were going to be away for a few days after its arrival, I chose to get the worms later by voucher (included in the price), but they'll send with as well.

2. My boyfriend stayed at home to take delivery, and as promised it arrived the very next day.

3. I sent off the voucher when we were ready and waited for those worms.

4. I was worried the worms wouldn't fit through our post box, but they just came in a fairly small, ordinary envelope (and a plastic pouch inside that). I wonder if the postman knew what he was carrying???

5. We set up the wormery as per the instructions (everything you need is included), and finally added the worms.

6. Wahey, wormery!

You have to slowly build up the amount of food you add, and after just a few weeks they really start getting through it. The Junior Wormery is only designed to cope with the waste of one person, but it does pretty well with the two of us. The worms are happy with just about anything that used to be alive, although meat is not a great idea, and too much citrus can make for an unhealthy wormery. But it's not just for food - any organic waste can go in: garden waste, paper etc (how much obviously depends on the size of your wormery - our small one manages the odd kitchen towel, some bonsai clipping and the occasional handful of dead leaves). There's very little maintanance involved, but you do have to sprinkle a handful of a special lime mix (also included) every few weeks to keep the pH in the right range.

So, what do you get out of it, except knowing you're wasting less? Well, the best bit for most people is that after about two months you'll be able to get "worm juice" from the tap. This is very rich fertilizer (and boy does it smell like fertilizer!) that can be diluted and used on your plants. The other thing you get after about eight to twelve months is a bin full of compost. (Do you get all of that from a greedy dog? Maybe in a slightly less useful form...) As we haven't got a garden I'm not sure what we'll we're going to do with the compost yet, but we'll cross that bridge blah de blah.

I really think a wormery under the sink is a fantastic idea, and I'm only sorry I didn't know it was possible earlier. I really feel a whole lot greener. One question though: do you think our landlord would class worms as pets?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The wicker man - why?

The trailers for The wicker man, a new remake of the 1973 British classic, looked promising.

I've never seen the original, so I'm completely out of my depth making comparisons, but I think I can say with some confidence that the 1973 version was better than this pile of incoherent codswallop. There are worse films than this remake for sure, but it must be hard to take a reasonable actor like Nicholas Cage, put him in a solid, sinister storyline and come up with a movie as dull and disjointed as this. I think I was meant to be scared, but only the usual horroresque slow, building strings playing in the background in every other scene could put me slightly on edge. Pavlov's syndrome, maybe?

The obvious question is whether this remake was necessary at all. From what I hear, the original is pretty good - I added it to my LoveFilm list as soon as I got back from the cinema. I suppose that's a plus point for the new film - it's at least entertaining enough to show that the basic premises could make for a good story in the right hands. It's just already been done.

If they wanted to make a glossy colour film, Americanised and all Hollywooded up to whet modern appetites, then my first instinct is to say think of something original. I'm not sure, however, that I can shout that out and mean it, because there are some old films that I think should be made new for a fresh audience (and me) to enjoy. I'd dearly dearly love to see a new version of To kill a mockingbird, great as the original is. Why? Because the film missed so many important things out of the book that I want an even better one that does it justice.

My conclusion must therefore be: remakes are fine if they're an improvement on the original (and I would generally count an equally good version in colour as an improvement, with all apologies to those who would disagree), but pretty pointless if they're worse.

The wicker man is very pointless.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I abandoned my blog, and I didn't think I'd be back. For more than three hundred days, these pages have been alone, silent, and let's face it, barely visited.

But then today, in a fit of nostalgia/boredom, I visited the lonely pages and read many (ok, all) of those old posts. Like rereading an old diary, I smiled, laughed, and cringed helplessly. Most importantly, I thought (with ten months of hindsight, of course) I'd actually done pretty well at the whole blogging thing, even if I was a bit scatter-brained to actually get a loyal following. You've got to have a theme to get on in the blog world, and I just don't want to bore myself that much. But hey, who cares? I'll write about anything and everything and hopefully win people over with my witty charm... Maybe not. How about some interesting stories, useful info and a little bit of self indulgent musing? Possibly more of the latter, let's face it.

So much new is going on these days that I don't know where to start, so I won't. Except to mention the fandabidosy Performancing plug-in for Firefox, a sublime blog editor that may well have sealed the deal in my return to blogland.

Watch this space. Future topics may or may not include any of the following: Knitting, growing tomatoes, my shiny new flat, Ireland, vegetarianism, walking, a new job, films, jala neti, poetry, nonsensical ramblings, football (soccer), recycling, composting with worms...

In fact, I'm so excited about that last one that I just have to get in a little teaser: there are worms living under my kitchen sink! Trust me, this is a good thing :-)