Saturday, 1 March 2014

Armoured dragons...

Someone said to me "There's this picture of a rabbit in chainmail. Do you think you could do the same for dragons?"

I have NO idea, but I'm more than willing to give it a try!

I had some zinc plated wire lying around after buying some metal mesh fencing for the new dragon slope - I had a dowel I could use as a mandrel, and I have a few different pliers handy - as well as my famous obsessive patience, just right for a job like this.

Winding the wire was the easy bit - zinc plated steel wraps beautifully, and pulling it off carefully went well. Snipping the rings (the technical name is "jump rings"!) went reasonably well, but stitching them together... hoo. That's a steeper learning curve than your average Olympic ski jump!

Some four hundred rings and rather more hours than I'd care to admit later thanks to several teardowns when it all went to pot, I finally have a swatch of maille about 4 or 5" square - just enough for a dragon armour prototype, for one of the smaller beardies.

And I think I know just the beardie...

Hyphen really likes his ears being rubbed in the evening, which made him the ideal candidate. I used cardboard, rivets, aluminium tape and a paper template - and the result is AWESOME!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Benny and Spyyk, together again.

Benny passed away a couple of days ago - we worked hard to stabilise him, but it just wasn't happening. I've no idea how old he was, being a rescue, but he'd been with us YEARS. I had Spyyk in the freezer, not knowing what to do with him - but once Benny died, I knew. 

I bought a pair of oregano plants, one lemon oregano, one classic, and put them over their resting places. 

Saturday, 15 February 2014


I apologise. I have entirely neglected my blog/online diary. Damn you, Google Plus, for pretending to be as efficient as a blogdiary!

In fairness, nothing much really has happened. Well, actually, come to think of it, I suppose there has been a fair bit of stuff since November. I seem to have lost some posts somewhere along the line!

Recently though, I started a fight with the DVLA about the rights to my Pastafarian Driver's License and I will be writing another letter requesting which specification my photo doesn't meet (and sending them the same picture again!) - they're not going to shake me off that easily. If they think I'm having a laugh, they're in for a nasty surprise!

An ATM swallowed my card and £30 of my money when the locking catch failed - I pressed the button, and the machine rolled back into its unit. Inconvenient.

Mum wanted a fresh banoffee pie for her birthday.
I could not find one ANYWHERE, so ended up making one from scratch - though I confess to cheating where possible. I used a cheesecake-style biscuit base because my previous efforts at pastry have always sucked, and I used a can of Carnation's ready made caramel; well, for the sake of the messing around making it myself, it's more efficient - and more cost efficient.

I finished it off with some awesome Oetker's gold cake spray - that's shimmer spray for desserts (a truly great idea!), fresh slices of banana and one of Mum's indoor sparklers.

Which she promptly burnt her finger on, and then used said pie to cool finger.

Eh. Even her supposedly banoffee-disliking husband liked it. I'm quite pleased with myself.

Though it has backfired a touch.
She wants one every year now.

Myself, Himself, Tsam and a bunch of friends attended a very-gay play, written by one gay friend and acted by another. I'm still waiting for them to return our silk dressing gowns...

Jac managed to puke on the back of his own head, but otherwise the dragons are healthy and happy, and just coming out of brumation.

I'm doing more work on the dragon apartments, decking out Sandy's tank with a banana leaf swing, grasses and more plants to hopefully make our jungle-dragon a bit more sociable. Oh, and I made some hats for dragons. Here's Jam wearing one - and a moustache, because she's a jolly good sport.

We discovered Terry likes to eat his dinner from a spoon. He won't eat from the little cups - but spoons? Heck yes!

Talking of cups, I've bought an obscene amount of cup-a-soup, because it was three for the price of one. You really can't knock a deal like that, especially when the ones with those little croutons in is on the same offer - and I do like cup-a-soup. Creamy vegetable, or perhaps the mushroom - His Lordship really likes minestrone.

Also linked, come to think of it, the dragoncam is causing me great frustration, but I'm hoping to get some info back from the manufacturers about embedding techniques - my old Y-cam you just splat a link in, but this one's proving to be a bit more tricky. (Though MUCH better quality!) Watch this space for updates - I hope to overcome the authentication problem soon!

And the weather sucked. I'll write more later. I'm going to bed now!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


Apparently, I drew the interest of a troll at some point in the last few days - and, as a result, I have been made into an ironic meme. How wonderful!

He doesn't "get" Pastafarianism, clearly, and the result is thoroughly amusing.

I quote these choice excerpts from Cap'n Mosey's I Really Rather You Didn't's:

"3. I'd really rather you didn't judge people for the way they look, or how they dress, or the way they talk, or, well, just play nice, okay? Oh, and get this into your thick heads: woman = person. man = person. Samey = Samey"


"8. I'd really rather you didn't do unto others as you would have them do unto you if you are into, um, stuff that uses a lot of leather/lubricant/vaseline. If the other person is into it, however (pursuant to #4), then have at it, take pictures, and for the love of Mike, wear a CONDOM! Honestly, it's a piece of rubber. If I didn't want it to feel good when you did it I would have added spikes, or something.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Licensed Pastafarian?

My driver's license renewal notice arrived.

As promised, I am going to attempt to join the Pastafarians in Europe, to get the colander on an official identification document - to be the first in the UK to do it.

I have read through the UK driver's license and passport regulations regarding photographs, and I believe it can be done, as there's a notice regarding medical or religious headwear. The fact that it has already been done in two other countries should make it easier, and I am sure I have plenty of character witnesses willing to agree that I am indeed a genuine Pastafarian - if I really have to, I will get a letter of recommendation from Bobby himself, though I'd rather not have to trouble him. (Though I will let him know if I am successful!)

The ID agent has gone to ring the helpline to see how do deal with this... She hasn't heard of Pastafarianism before. Luckily, I was prepared and had the BBC articles to hand.

There may be a risk of the DVLA rejecting it, but it took Niko three years, after all. I'm not in a hurry - and I'm sending a letter to support it.

 3/1/14 - finally got my hands on a working printer!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


A - Amber's Alphabet

The idea is I'm trying to find 26 things that are important to me for my very own Alphabet.

A for Amber, obviously! I'm 27 (though don't always remember it. No really. Got banned out of a bar once, because I couldn't remember. I was with my MUM at the time...), tall and broad. Blue eyes, light brown hair, surprisingly tidy eyebrows, complete inability to do division or percentages and a love of learning odd talents. I'm currently working on wriggling my ears and writing left handed.

B - Books

I love to read.

I'm rarely found without some form of book about my person. Currently, I'm practically sat on one (Marian Keyes, "Watermelon"), and have about three on the go at most times: Stephen Hawking "Universe in a Nutshell", Jasper Fforde's "Shades of Grey" again - NOT the mummyporn - and Mobius Dick.

I like an eclectic mix of extreme realism, marvellously obtuse and fascinatingly scientific, as is probably obvious from my current reading list! (I have some three hundred Doctor Who books tucked away in the guest bedroom.) I'm a member of Bookcrossing, that is, when I'm not sending books straight to people.

Books are a practical entertainment form... and often contain:

C - Comics

Or, more accurately, graphics novels. And online comics. Yeah... I'm no purist. But I do know that Iron Man is way cooler than Batman. And "V for Vendetta" was a really rather good movie adaptation of the graphic novel. And yes, I do have both. And no, I don't care if you don't agree - that's YOUR problem, you weirdo. I bet you think "Firefly" is stupid too - and you'd be WRONG.

And YES! Yes there are Firefly graphic novels...

And yes, of course I have them. Who d'you think I am?!

Now, if anyone wants to buy me some Iron Man graphic novels, I'd be highly appreciative...

D - Dale. (And friends in general!)

My best mate. For goodness sake, don't actually tell him he's my best friend or I'll never hear the end of it, and he'd never get through doorways.

Just in case someone DOES tell him, or he actually reads my blog - I've chosen THIS picture just to try and make sure he doesn't get too bad a case of  "I'm AWESOME" disease. The wig is mine.

But seriously, cynical and self-aware-of-own-awesomeness though he may be, he's a pretty nice guy. And he can fall down an entire flight of stairs without spilling his Guinness. Most of my mates meet these minimum standards!

E - eBay

eBay is awesome. Between the reptile keeping, oddities collecting and junk shifting over the years, it has saved me a small fortune.

I've picked up some remarkable bargains over the years, including correctly betting a seller was a gambler (and thus securing myself a cool £100 off my brand new telly), grabbing two vivariums for half the price I could get anywhere else, and a diamond ring possibly worth nearly a grand and a half... for a fraction of the price.

I've sold a cracked glass and a broken plate for £30, an old vivarium for £50, a set of UV bulbs for as much as I bought them for and a thermostat for nearly twice as much as I paid for it.

I don't know anywhere else I can buy UV bulbs as cheaply, whether singly or in bulk. If you do know anywhere else, then please let me know. I love a good bargain!

F - Family.

Mum won't let cameras near her, so this is my stepdad, in "Warthog" mode. He's pretty darned awesome and I'm lucky that he accepts me as family too! He does have his own kids with Mum - I've not ever thought of them as anything other than my brother and sister. Well, occasionally as monumental pains in the backside, but point me out a sibling that doesn't and I'll show you a weirdo.

I have quite a large family, what with my mother and father both having remarried, and all the aunts and uncles and cousins that come with the situation. It also gets a little complicated - due to the fact that my mother's parents are cousins... which makes my mother my second cousin, and my siblings my cousins once removed. I think...

G - Games

Most Saturdays, we have games night. We play anything from Tetris Linkup to American Modified Rummy, Monopoly or Rummikub... to Whot!, Zombies! Risk! and other games with exclamation marks in.

It's a good excuse to get together, have a giggle, and make sure that the students among us get at least one proper meal a week, whether it be Dale's Insanity-Pizzas, my Mexitalican, a full roast dinner or tasty steak...

His Lordship is even developing another of his own games on a roleplayer format, inspired by Martin's requests that we should try Dungeons and Dragons - which probably was inspired by playing DooM.

We really ought to get on with that, actually. His Lordship hasn't been able to update the DooMblog in some time...

H - Home

Our house might only be little, but it's all ours and awesome. It's a cute little three bed end terrace that needed a touch of work, but was a bargain - with immense thanks to my wonderful grandparents for helping so much in securing and repairing our home.

Actually, it's more than a bargain - it's my best bargain of all time so far; having been listed up at £86k, I'm rather proud to say we brought it on down to £54,000 - just about what I could afford on a mortgage!

It has a teewee little patio'd garden with raised beds, just screaming to have herb beds planted in them, as well as our superawesome new blue, silver, cream and grey kitchen - not to mention the most beautiful miniature bathroom in shades of travertine marble with a perfect white P-shaped bath.


The source of many wonderful things.

It is where I met himself, it is where I met all kinds of fascinating people (like Rupert in the picture - he's helping our friend Ben take his turn at Risk, on gamesnight.), where I've picked up some fantastic bargains from my telly to my house, and an endless source of information for all the things I find fascinating.

I've rescued animals through it, talked to big names through it, helped charities through it, improved myself through it. I don't know how people manage without it - I would not like to have to be without my internet.

J - Justgiving.

Every year, I try to raise some funds for charity. Causes I've helped include the RSPCA's "Pet-a-pet" cause, worked for the National Children's Homes for three years at weekends, even gambled my hair (and lost) with the #hairsyourchance "Shave or Save" votes. I've also helped raise money for Children-in-Need, Marie Curie, Jeans4Genes, WearItPink... I've lost track actually!

I'm also on-call for other dragon rescuers and I'm the treasurer for the Samaritans. It's a lot more work than I had anticipated, but I'm sure it will be very satisfying when I get the hang of it. If I get the hang of it. It's only been nearly a year...

K - Key Lime Pie

The world is a better place with Key Lime Pie. Or cheesecake in general. Cheesecake is my version of Prozac, or Zoloft, or antidepressant of your choice. It doesn't actually fix problems, but it makes them much less stressful. Everything is so much nicer with a slice of cheesecake. - these guys do the best cheesecakes.  I mean, literally the best. I adore their "honeycomb", as pictured. NOM!

L - Lizards!

I have six Bearded Dragons and a Crested Gecko. The other animals are not lizards, and they're still awesome. However, the lizards and I come as a package. Love me, love my dragons.

Rich discovered this when he first met me. Thankfully he thought Kyle was awesome, and she thought he was great.

The rest have all turned up since then, one way or another, and they all have distinct individual personalities, likes and dislikes.

Lizards are just the most supercool creatures ever.

M - Movies

Who doesn't love a good movie? I like smart comedy, inventive sci-fi and peculiar "cult" films. Oh, and Raspberries.

Raspberries are films that are SO bad that they go all the way through bloody awful and somehow land at freakin' AWESOME.

Mega Python vs Gatoroid was pretty epic(ly terrible!) and I'm looking forwards to watching DinoShark. Frankenhooker was almost as bad as it sounds, and we have quite a list of terrible films to track down...

My favourites include Kung Fu Hustle, Serenity, Death Race (actually, most Jason Stathams. He ain't pretty, but he does a damn good movie) an the Iron Man movies. Or actually, most superhero movies.

N - Neopets

Whilst I'm not a big "gamer", I have been a proud Neopian for ... good grief, more than twelve years! I'm no big star or anything, but I am noodling along quietly, picking up the things I find most shiny along the way.

My account is interesting enough to have people try hack it occasionally! Heh...

O - Orange Chocolate

The world is a better place when chocolate orange alternatives for things are available. They are becoming ever more rare I notice, which strikes me as an awful shame.

My favourite thing used to be Thornton's Seville ice cream  - a delicious combination of slightly sour, zingy orange sorbet, coupled with the creamiest, smoothest chocolate icecream.

Marvellous stuff. I once bought an entire industrial tub. Took up half Nan's freezer and took me MONTHS to get through. Ice cream for breakfast?

P - Pastafarianism

My religion of choice. Pirates, Pasta, Peacefulness - how many more P's do you want?

If P's aren't good enough, how about a Beer Volcano (more accurately known as "Volcano of Many Beverages" - but you try saying that when drunk)?

I'm an ordained minister, and take it as seriously as it is possible to. After all, it does have some wonderful basic structures as described in the "I Really Rathers". Cracked did a pretty good summary, though they have missed out Bobby's plight. His letter and the origins of Pastafarianism are easily found HERE.

Q - Querying/questioning.

I love/live to question stuff.

Isn't it fun when you ask "what on EARTH is that?" and strive to find the answer? Aren't mysteries fascinating? What better in life than to educate yourself and to find everything around you, heck, in the WORLD fascinating?

I'm always going to be scientific. I like knowing how and why and what - and more importantly, I like learning how and why and what.

I find it incredibly satisfying, to take a puzzle and work it out.

Here's a photo I took for you to wonder about.
What is it, do you think?

R - Rich

One of the most patient people I know. Probably a good job too, being as he has to live with me.

My favourite person in the whole world, and he has been accepted as a member of the family ever since this event - "The Gimping".

To his immense credit, he giggled throughout and didn't ask for help, thus providing quite some entertainment as he struggled to get back out of the entire reel of sellotape from top to toes.

Yes indeed, His Lordship - a brilliant person, in the literal terms of the word as well as descriptive.

S - Science

Yeah, I'm a pretty big fan. I'm still working on memorising the table of elements, and I have some really funky sciencey-based things in my collection, from my neato USB microscope (hours of computer pictured miniature fun!) to my stormglass (not particularly handy for predicting the weather, but interesting) and the croc clamp magnifier (much to Rich's amusement. I think it's great!).

T - Treating people fairly

Because, if you think someone should do something, you should be prepared to do it yourself. Well, that's one of the ideals behind it, anyway. It's something I have to do every day at work, and try to do the same at home.

Treating people fairly is about looking at a situation, and trying to work out what you'd want, if you were in that position. In THIS particular case, I'd want a nice drink to wash away the flavour of the special toothpaste my mother was trying out.

It tasted like arse.

Yes, I tried it too.
I just thought the picture of Himself was funnier!

U - Universal Life Church

Actually, I started collecting suitable/compatible ministerial certifications a little while ago - and it's turned out to be thoroughly entertaining, and not a little educational.

So far I am registered as a Pastafarian Pastar, a ULC multidenominational minister, a Discordian Priestess, a Secular Humanist minister and a Reverend of the First Atheist Church.

I have considered Dudeism, though it doesn't quite fit me, and IPUists has long since maintained an understanding with Pastafarians - there are too many differences for us to reconcile, but we appreciate each other.

If anyone else has any other compatible ministries, let me know - I am certainly interested.

V - Virus

Virus is one of my original designs. I made the preliminary sketches at work, age 16, and it stuck with me ever since then. The original designs were dots, or lines, or angular - and then I blended the whole lot and got this rather tribal, Aztec-y, circuitry looking lizard design.

You'll notice he's on my logo, he's on my background, he's on my C.V., heck, he's even on ME as a tattoo.

He's pretty much my trademark. I have no idea how I knew I'd love lizards, years before I even thought of actually owning one.

Never look back!

W - Webcomics

Every Sunday morning, I treat myself to a catchup session of each of the different webcomics I follow. These are some of my regulars:‎

X - X-rays

Well, medical science and scientific technology in general. Seeing stuff you can't normally see. Electron microscopes are my favourite things (other than super colliders) but sadly you can't have either of those in your home at this time.

Currently I'm making do with the awesome copies of my pets x-rays that my great vet lets me nab snaps of, data from NASA and CERN available on the interwebs (and through spectacularly techie friends, like nanoengineers!) and my lovely little Bresser USB connective microscope.

Actually, I recommend most Bresser stuff. It's cheap and cheerful, but surprisingly good for the price. I've just picked up a nifty USB solar charger from them for just £12.99

Y - Y-cam Knight

I have to say thanks to my friend Pete Graham, for kindly giving me his old IP webcam. It finally gave me the hefty kick I needed to start working on a dream I have had for a while - making my lovely lizards globally accessible.

I haven't released the details on this yet, as I haven't finished work on the website (yes, I have built a proper site, secured my own cool domain name and am cracking on with developing all sorts of little options) and I am waiting for my upgraded camera to arrive.

Pete's Y-cam proved my concept possible - the new camera will have a much lower bandwidth usage, higher quality image and hopefully I'll even be able to set it so that people can have a look at different dragons themselves, rather than waiting for me to adjust the view.

Watch this space - I'm working hard and I hope to have it all done in the next few days. Well, if the postal service hurries up!

Z - Zzzzzz.

I love my bed.

No, really, I LOVE my bed. We actually decided against going on holiday and spent the money on a supremely amazing bed instead - and I don't regret a minute of it. Two weeks abroad, or ten years better sleep? Hardly worth debating.

It is lushness in a squish of lush, deliciously smooth dark chocolate leather and a 100% memory foam mattress. And £210 off, which was nice. Always worth asking, you know!

His Lordship? "Mmmmmmm. Splootchy."

Monday, 21 October 2013

Would you want to know when you were going to die?

This one often leaves me in a tangled quandry.
I don't know. It's one of the few things I don't know about myself that causes confusion.

On the one hand, I would like to know, so that I can do the things I want to do before it is too late - but on the other hand, I don't want to have a timer ticking down on me. I would find that awfully anxiety-inducing. I hate time trial games. (Though I do have a great fondness for hourglasses.)

I don't know when I'm going to die. Currently, I'm comfortable without having an "expiry date" - I am all too aware that I could die tomorrow, but I can't do much about that. I am also aware that I could easily live into my late eighties; the women in my family are the sturdy sort, on both sides. This also worries me, for things like pension funding. I can't do much about that other than have a pension plan.

5% of my salary has been put into my plan since I hit 25. I also have a will, mortgage insurance and life insurance - I'm 27. I have plans for the next two years, like getting married, but no major life requirements otherwise. If I died tomorrow, I'd be a bit pissed, sure, but not completely gutted. (Depending on method of expiry, of course - plenty of fish factories round here.)

I don't want for much. I've never needed much. I'm pretty happy with my lot so far.

And I appreciate that's more than many.

So, in the meantime, don't tell me.
I don't think I want to know.

Monday, 14 October 2013

I'm sorry to say that we lost Spyyk today.

I had noticed a few days back that he didn't want his dinner, which is unusual, but then I came down sick.

It seems that so had he - I found him floating on his side in a right mess. I won't go into graphic details, but even his extraordinary powers of healing weren't going to be sufficient - his lower abdomen was intruded by a large mass; I've seen and treated axolotl prolapses and impactions before, and this wasn't either.

I've done the kindest thing for him and freezered him; axolotls are pretty unusual - they can happily cope down to 2C, then their metabolism slows down enough to send them into a form of suspended animation. He will be totally unaware and not feel a thing below this.

There wasn't much I could have done even if I'd picked up on it earlier. That's the trouble with axolotls - there's not a huge amount you can do when they're really ill, except for cool them down and hope their healing ability outpaces the slowed condition - and I could see immediately that this wouldn't be enough for Spyyk. The vets here wouldn't have been able to deal with him, and he was about nine years old already, not a bad age for an axolotl. (The usual life span is 8-12 years, though the record is 15!)

He was also more travelled than most axolotl - he went to Bath city and then to Somerset before coming back home to Grimsby. He was a happy 'lotl. Didn't ask for much. Mind you, they don't, normally. He mooched round a lot, sat staring into space a lot, floated round a bit, slept most of the time, and always charged over to see if I had food when the lid opened. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

What are you?

I rarely drink - I have never smoked or taken "recreational" drugs. I am not keen on others doing so to excess, but that is their choice and I will help them quit if they would like assistance.

I do not have a criminal record (and have the certificate to prove it) though I understand some folk have them through errors of judgement - and the majority have paid for it; more harshly than the every Joe realises.

I love my reptiles and my family and my friends - I work hard to care for them, and I do it FOR them. I have worked hard all my life, and been greatly fortunate and deeply grateful to those that have helped me along the way. I am distrustful of gifts, having an underlying sense of _owing_ the giver - but I appreciate the gesture and do my best to reciprocate. And often feel guilty when I can't match it.

I have only hit another human when they have attacked me first - my mother taught me to punch straight as a child. I have never abused or oppressed anyone deliberately, and I would do my best to rectify the situation if I have caused harm. I expect the same standards from others, and am often disappointed - though sometimes I am overwhelmed.

I regularly do charitable work as treasurer for an emotional crisis centre (a suicide hotline, in your words), I bring food and information for the homeless girl who spends her days under the bridge on the way to work, I do fundraising for other charities and rescue abandoned and abused animals when I can - I would like to help more in my home, but there's a limit to what my wee home can sensibly accommodate; I am a happy-to-help oft-labelled "guru" for many who do the same.

I believe any orientation of sexuality or gender should be treated equally, as you and I should be also. I also believe that there is too much stigma on mental health, and not enough outreach.

My heart aches when I see abused creatures - it is why I have ended up with six dragons. I am also getting tattoos for each one, to join Kyle's as my mark of honour (my first dragon, the instigator of my love and respect for her species, though she be over the Rainbow Bridge). I get annoyed when people fail their promises, especially commissions - if I am paid for my services, I ensure it gets done, one way or another.

I despise being late, though I am tolerant of others being late. I greet strangers like friends, and freaked out a bunch of Londoners by being nice to them (country bumpkin that I am!). I enjoy talking to intelligent, inquisitive folks of any age, and have stepped into the midst of situations to help others, regardless of personal risk - regularly, in fact.

Reading about another species going extinct breaks my heart - but I am lifted by great joy at the success of another by our hand. I cried writing this message. I often feel guilty for the little I have - how much I have, comparatively, and Weltschmerz often renders me helpless; as a result, I'm 27 and have life insurance, a will and mortgage cover. Because you never know.

I love life because it is the only one I have - because I know how fragile and fleeting it is, how easily and unfairly it can be extinguished, and yet I adore seeing my 99 year old customer every week. She enjoys every day, because she says she doesn't know if there's going to be a tomorrow. I don't have the luxury of a lifetime's preparation for free time, but I hope I get the same opportunity.

I would like to grow old. I am sad when I realise I will most likely outlive my love, but I hope to make the most of it in the meantime.
I hope I make a difference to others - not for myself, but for the ripples it generates when they then help others.

This is much of me. More can be discovered by asking, should you wish - though I'm just as fond of companionable silence too.

Monday, 16 September 2013

This is a bit of my history:

I have not posted on my blog for a while - I have been distracted by social media "mini-blogging", and it has recently occurred to me that GooglePlus only retains posts for about nine months. I find my blog very useful for going back over and seeing how life was. I am back.

I started work at 13. My father told me that I should get a job and earn my own money - I earned £1 for cleaning several pairs of boots every week, including his dock coldstore boots.

I remember being irritated by this - and so I got a job in a charity shop, the National Children's Homes.

From there, I got straight into proper retail at 16 through a pisspoor paid apprenticeship programme. I was paid less than £1.70 an hour, full time - about $2.50, for you Americans. Three years gained me several NVQ certificates in retail, and a few in my spare time, word processing and the like at the free local college.

I then had to have reconstructive surgery on my foot - to this day, I still have the scar, the titanium, and the lump of the screw that gets blisters in new shoes... It was at this time that my grandparents let me move in with them; they did not approve of my stepmother's request that I continued paying rent - though I do understand that he was trying to teach me a valuable "life lesson" at the time, the idea that no-one else would do it for me if I couldn't work.

As soon as I was back up on my feet, I was fortunate enough to be accepted for a cashier and stocker position at the shop in the village, a couple of miles down the road. My previous retail experience and certifications helped, apparently, and my grandparents kindly picked me up after late shifts. Those were godawful, working the late shifts and then having to follow it up just a few hours later with the early shift - I don't work well with lack of sleep, and the wages weren't great either. But at least I wasn't the one that got electrocuted... (Though it taught me a valuable lesson in how management pass the buck - and to always put serious issues in writing.)

In the end, I was exhausted. I left and cleaned toilets for a while, for the same wages but... normal hours. I'm not sure which was worse. Though my grandmother calling from the car "Have a lovely day, my little scrubber!" on the way to her WI meeting really made my day. Especially when I explained how this could be misconstrued.

My knowledge of minerals and interest in gemmology landed me another low wage position in a "magical" shop, a job I was happy to do as the hours were better yet again and the work I genuinely loved; it made the naff wage worthwhile. Around the same time, I was headhunted for some hours at Thorntons - our local branch being one of the biggest in the region, and I mixed the part-time hours nicely with my gem-work.

Around this time I got onto a full time course at the local educational institute, a double OCN paper in business. The magic shop sadly closed, but by this time I was juggling more hours as assistant manager at Thorntons, my course, extra courses on computer work (I can audiotype, touch type and a whole bunch of other types.) as well as working as receptionist and archivist for a posh solicitors office.

I had turned 20 and discovered I had a a pretty badass work ethic - and I also discovered my limits. I found I was merely treading water at this point and my boyfriend at the time, of five years, was getting more difficult to manage too. (That's decidedly another story.)

I finished my course, wrapped up all the loose ends, and fled South. My odd skill set landed me a job with the MOD, but they only have temporary contracts - six months is the maximum, and the operation I was brought in to help develop wasn't going to complete. I can't tell you about this work, only that the chap that wrote the programme wrote a 500 page manual... and forgot to add a "how to use this" section. I know it was 500+ pages, because I accidentally fell asleep on it once, and dribbled on it somewhere to the back. I understand the programme was pulled for outsourcing, so at least no-one knows! Well, until now. (I told you, I don't work well if I don't sleep enough - and getting three am calls from your ex does not help sleep. It only took a couple of nights to learn to switch my phone off from 9pm.)

I then got VERY lucky - apparently my MOD clearance enough to get me straight in at the bank, though that was a farce in itself. No one knew who I was when I turned up to work - I may as well have just walked in off the street, hell, I practically did.

My contract had gone missing in the post, it seems - discovered two months down the line when I still hadn't been paid (I was used to working month in hand, after all). Luckily, they kept me on - well, as I pointed out, I already had the safe codes and central computer access by that point, so they probably ought to pay me!

I've been there seven years now, with a few months gap when someone screwed up my transfer back home. The wage isn't huge, but it's better than most in this area - I carried my city contract with me. I am not especially loyal. I will sell my time to the highest bidder - but only on terms that I know I can manage, and if I like the work. I have met my limitations, and I know what I will accept.

I went from having no grades to speak of to having a job I am sensible enough to understand and accept that I'll probably stick with it for life. It's not the most amazing job, but it's steady work. And that's better than most. I know which side my bread's buttered on. I've worked damn hard for it.

More importantly though, I know I've been very lucky to have been able to make the most of the few opportunities that I have been offered. The sad fact is that few people ever get breaks - or are willing to sell their lives for such low prices.

I'm not surprised so many people prefer the dole. It is very tempting, sometimes - accepting being poor in exchange for not having to give your soul and hours doing something you don't enjoy.

Mind you, I like affording things. Well, some things. A few things. Well, more than I could buy on the dole. Eh.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Sunday Stitches

Jam was happy to have breakfast (NatureZone beardie bites and butterworms), but grumped from the moment she got in the basket. We got to the vets, and she immediately cheered up again.

She's let me know that the stitches are a little bit sore this morning - but that's okay, that's what we are at the vets for; it is time for the next antibiotic and anti-inflammation shot.

Rob the Sunday vet is impressed, and she was good whilst she had her shots. She fibbed to me and told me it was her tail that hurt when we put her back in the basket. Made the nurse laugh, and call her a little liar - they didn't go anywhere near her tail. Jam grinned. Nurse says Jam's such a happy little lizard, it is always nice to see her. :D?

We will be back again on Wednesday, hopefully for the last shots, then she's back in just over five weeks to have the stitches removed. Yes, that's a lot longer than mammals (reptile skin heals slower than human skin - but it is much tougher); it's explained quite well in this really interesting article on reptile skin from a vets perspective:

I may enquire about oral meds, just in case she does still hurt after Wednesday's meds wear off.

Point of interest - my teenytiny rescued Mocha has laid two batches since the start of this article. I don't know why, but Mocha is an egg machine, despite her tiny size. She NEVER has any problems. Jam's much bigger than she is, and always had trouble. Go figure!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Staples... (Well, clips, actually.)

Michael the vet was most amused when he heard about her tall-tails! (Get it, tall-tales? Fibs? Hehehehe.) It was almost as funny as Jacques' epic bedflop - pictured.

He confirmed that her injections had been via her forearms and definitely NOT her tail! She'd put up a bit of a fight this time - not that she'd stooped to biting, that'd be below her, but she grumped at him and wouldn't give him her hand. Understandably, as far as I'm concerned. She's had the last round of subcutaneous antibiotics, and didn't need any more anti-inflammatories.

She's continuing to do really well; she's put on a good 20 grams since surgery, all of her very own, as she no longer has eggs to fuel. She's also sitting properly despite the big row of stitches under her belly, and it's only the middle ones that are a little sore now.

It turns out that she has either 35 or 38 titanium clips inside her in total - there were a lot of vessels to close off. He also showed me the pics through surgery and has promised to email me them when he gets chance; they're really quite shocking!

She had bad abrasion sites and lesions from previous bindings (which we already knew) and had several failed follicles that had actually started rotting - she could well have succumbed to septicaemia had we not intervened. Other follicles were abnormal and both ovaries were in full production, which is quite unusual.

I'll be attaching pics once he's got round to sending them - he's confirmed that I have medical privacy consent over the images, and he's happy for them to be distributed online for educational purposes. "They're yours, so, you know!"

We're back in five weeks to have the stitches removed - I'll keep everyone updated of anything interesting in the meanwhile.

Monday, 24 June 2013


Jam was happy to have breakfast (NatureZone beardie bites and butterworms), but grumped from the moment she got in the basket. We got to the vets, and she immediately cheered up again.

She's let me know that the stitches are a little bit sore this morning - but that's okay, that's what we are at the vets for; it is time for the next antibiotic and anti-inflammation shot.

Rob the Sunday vet is impressed, and she was good whilst she had her shots. She fibbed to me and told me it was her tail that hurt when we put her back in the basket. Made the nurse laugh, and call her a little liar - they didn't go anywhere near her tail. Jam grinned. Nurse says Jam's such a happy little lizard, it is always nice to see her. :D?

We will be back again on Wednesday, hopefully for the last shots, then she's back in just over five weeks to have the stitches removed. Yes, that's a lot longer than mammals (reptile skin heals slower than human skin - but it is much tougher); it's explained quite well in this really interesting article on reptile skin from a vets perspective:

I may enquire about oral meds, just in case she does still hurt after Wednesday's meds wear off.

Point of interest - my teenytiny rescued Mocha has laid two batches since the start of this article. I don't know why, but Mocha is an egg machine, despite her tiny size. She NEVER has any problems. Jam's much bigger than she is, and always had trouble. Go figure!

Sunday, 23 June 2013


Gently fished Jam out from under her bed and parked her under the heat lamp. She hit about 31C and realised she was a little hungry. Omnomnomcrunchcrunchcruch.

I'll make sure she has a little more water today to offset the usage for protein. I sense she will be demanding many locusts over the next few days.

It appears she is unaware of her lack of reproductive ability, as she has been flirting outrageously with the boys gawping from their tanks. She has been having a good walk around and remembering not to run, even with free range dinner available. (Her appetite is still good, despite her first round of painkillers wearing off.)

Rich remembered some more information - she's actually had her entire uterus out, as there were many compressed, old and failed eggs throughout her system. That does explain the higher risk rate Michael the vet has been going on about! She's also a titanium reinforced dragon - he used titanium clips to tidy off blood vessels and such. Fascinating stuff!

Before surgery:539g
After: 440g
She lost a fifth of her body weight.

Saturday, 22 June 2013


Jam's got up by herself for a potter around. She's watching TV apparently.

And she has given her new gift a good licking. Yes, I got her a book. Recovery from surgery is long and boring if you don't have a good book to read. Well, if you don't have letters on paper to lick. (She likes licking words in my books - now she has one of her own to lick.)

It is a lovely compilation of stories by Katherine Mansfield, and is the absolute perfect size for her set of shelves. My newsagent found it in his backlog storage up in his attic; he was amused when I told him who I was buying it for and mentioned that he reckons he might well have other miniature books up there. He's going to have a look for me tomorrow and let me know.