Monthly Archives: April 2015

X is for Xtra, Xtra – read all about it!

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XThis is the newz according to Julz!

Readers of this blog may have noticed I have a campaigning streak – I’m not sure what you think about it, but its in my genes!  When I was doing blogging101 in January, we were asked to pick a prompt, and write a post around it.

I chose “Never Surrender, and I wrote about my Dad.  You are welcome to click on the link and read it.  At the time I was feeling a little awkward about publishing a series of posts about the “cock ups” the Royal Mail were, and still are, making – and wasn’t sure whether I should keep them up.  Writing that post convinced me I should, however silly it made me look – smile.

I thought I would use this last week of the A-Z Challenge to write an update of the results – or not – of my little personal campaigns.

me messing around with a picture of postboxes

messing around with a picture of modern postboxes

I am vehemently against the privatisation of Royal Mail – as are may other people who rely on it.  Shares were offered at the end of 2013 and the price was far too low, which resulted in the ‘company’ ending up in the hand of the money men, who are simply interested in reselling them for a quick profit,  and not interested in providing a good service for their customers!

The public service had served us well since 1840, when the first postage stamps were issued – costing just one penny.  They are worth a lot more now!

Privatisation and the need to make a profit, has resulted in the loss of previously stable jobs, and a very unhappy staff.  Worse, the people now running it, have never worked within the system, but have been drafted in from other industries, so they know nothing about its traditions and how to make workable changes.  They have messed around with the pricing structure for the last couple of years, and made major mistakes.

close up of notice - last collection on saturday - 7 am, weekdays - 9 am!

close up of notice – last collection on saturday – 7 am, weekdays – 9 am!

It was a silly thing that got me started on this complaint!

I went to my nearest post box, to post some small orders, one Saturday morning at around 8 am, only to find that, without prior warning, there was a notice saying that the only collection on Saturdays would be at 7 am – ie I’d missed it!  Saturday collections have been at noon for EVER!

Worse, as I was on my way to Asda, and passed another post box, I stopped to look at the notice there, and it still said 12 noon, and the post box at Asda said 9.15am!  Even the guy who runs the local Post Office knew nothing about the change when I asked him!

There followed a series of encounters with Head Office, who were as obfuscating as they could be, and with the local Sorting Office, where I got laughed at.

Even sillier, I finally found out that the notices had been put up but the changes hadn’t happened yet!  

You can follow the series of posts I wrote HERE if you can be bothered to – its a long read – smile. (You will have to scroll down to the bottom to see the first one, and then scroll upwards for the next instalment!

Although nothing specific came out of the fuss I made, a new sticker is to be seen on all the local post boxes, giving the phone number for any queries the public would like to make about collections etc.  I was very heartened to hear a whole section on complaints from all around the country about the change in collection times from rural postboxes,   on Radio 4’s programme, You & Yours, this week.  Whether much will happen after that exposure remains to be seen.

I still don’t know for sure when the collections are, and whether the changes have yet been put into effect- I wonder if they’d tell me if I phoned up the number on the sticker!

cropped-3vert-dry-stone-wall-version-2.jpg In January, I also wrote a post about the new VAT MOSS scheme, which seems to have been introduced to force large companies, like Amazon, to pay their fair share of tax, but is instead making it more difficult for small businesses, and especially craftspeople, to trade.  There have been various petitions, to the European Union, whose legislation this is, and to member country parliaments, but as far as I can tell, no one has done anything to change the scheme.  My plan to open a separate shop on etsy selling digital downloads of my old photographs is still on hold.

the large bin was replaced by the small bin

the large bin was replaced by the small bin

In February, the local council came and changed our large wheelie bins for small ones, apparently in an effort to get us to recycle more.

I was curious as to how much the new bins had cost and whether the old bins had been usefully recycled, so I asked them.

I did eventually get some answers, but did not pursue the issue to the bitter end – it was enough to be able to show that people all over the world had read my blogs about this.

The Council Officials were prepared for some criticism on this policy, but they do not yet have a culture of recognising that freedom of information means transparency and accountability.  It would be nice if they got into the habit or publishing information like this without having to be cajoled into doing so!

Still they have come a long way from the petty officialdom that WAS once the prevailing culture – and unfortunately still is in many parts  of the world.  If I lived in India, China or Russia, to name but a few of the countries that abound with petty corruption – I might have found myself in prison just for asking those questions, or at the very least, would think nothing of having to pay a bribe to a local official to get my rubbish collected at all!

You can read the sequence of posts here.

photo of Matt Mullenweg, taken in 2014 (found on his website)

photo of Matt Mullenweg, taken in 2014 (found on his website)

My most recent campaign has stalled.

Ironically, its about WordPress and the changes they have made, and they seem to be the least open to discussion – or, if you like, on a par with the Royal Mail!

It would seem that Matt, who is a co-founder of WordPress thought it would be nice to be able to post short blogs from his mobile, so he wrote a program for it.

He thinks we all should use it – whether we are posting from our computers, i-pads or phones – but it doesn’t work!  I call it Edit Lite. See my postTest on Chrome“.

I spend a great deal of time formatting my posts, so that they are readable, and was finding that when I went back to edit them, the formatting got screwed up.

I was most upset to find this had happened to the last post of the Big Bin Swap series – see above – just at the time I had sent out invitations to the ‘Big Wigs’ from all the Local Councils to read it!

I have fixed it now, so the only thing wrong with it is that a paragraph in the middle has been squashed up.  I purposely haven’t been back to do that on the ‘Test on Chrome’.

I have tried contacting Matt – but he’s unreachable.  I put up a couple of posts, trying to get his attention – see “Message to Matt – 1 & 2“, but answer was there none, not even thro’ the very helpful Happiness Engineer – still makes me laugh, that title!

What she has told me is that they haven’t been able to fix it yet!  Edit Lite is the culprit, and we are being steered towards using it, whether we have up-to-date mobile phones or not!  I’m one of those who doesn’t!

The Classic Editor is now almost impossible to find.  However, I have followed the advice the ‘HE’ gave me, and returned to the Blog Post Page every time, religiously, where Classic Editor can be found by clicking “Add New” at the top of the page, and if I want to edit a post, I do it in that page – and have not had any real problems since!

I am steering well clear of any contact with Edit Lite – it has caused me too much grief!

I am not the only one who has had problems with this, and there are various forums and groups out there that I found when I was trying to get answers, who are extremely angry about the changes that are being made.

AND – it occurs to me that WordPress, of all organisations, should be listening to their customers, and be concerned about how the platform they provide performs.

The internets’ greatest strength is that it allows FREE SPEECH, and has been an important tool for the implementation of those ideals – its a shame to find WordPress, inadvertently perhaps,  acting in a similar fashion to those old fashioned, all powerful dictators!

 

 

W is for Wonderwool

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W I went to Wonderwool yesterday and thought I’d share my day out with you.

Wonderwool?  Its a ‘trade show’ (or as they call it ‘A Festival of Welsh Wool & Natural Fibres) for spinners & weavers and other crafters, and was held at the Royal Welsh Show grounds in Builth Wells.

The forecast was for rain, and it looked like it was right on the drive there, but by the afternoon it was a brilliantly sunny day!

I found some new suppliers, and bought some lovely silk fibres, which I will be putting up on etsy & ebay in the coming weeks, but this post is just about some of the people, and animals (!), who I came across during my day out.

Apologies to the others who haven’t got featured, it was a big show and I didn’t get around it all, and I kept getting distracted by all the nice stuff there, and forgot to get my camera out!

So here is a gallery of the photos I DID take – hover over the pictures to see the caption, or click on them to get a slide show – you may need to do this to read the full descriptions – I have given the contact details for all those featured.

And look out for the May/June issue of Yarn Maker whose editor I met several times in my meanders, and who was also taking pictures for a feature. (www.yarnmaker.co.uk)

T is for Textiles

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TThere are lots of things I could write about Textiles, and lots of other subjects I could have chosen starting with T, but, I have just got in a new order of Artist Designed Fabrics, and so its time to do a bit of Shop Talk.  My normal routine has been totally messed up by my choice to do this daily A-Z Challenge – smile – so I think its about time to do a bit of selling!

These are the lovely and unusual Art Gallery Fabrics I have chosen to add to the collection – you can find them under fabrics in my etsy shop, and starting here on ebay.

ZIPL20WHITE230PXAll the fabrics above are pure cotton, 45″ wide, that can be used in all kinds of ways, from dressmaking to quilting.

I have also ordered a few of these lovely lace zips, which should be just right for a wedding dress, or special summer outfit – I have only 5 of these to try – 35 cm long, but if there is interest, I can order more, and in all kinds of different colours!

And a quick reminder of the other fabrics I currently have in stock – which are in my etsy shop, and on the 85solway ebay account, at the moment!

 

 

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SSilkies are a particularly attractive pure breed of chickens – please go the ‘the spare’ to see my pictures of them!

S is for Silkies

Q is for Quilts for Peace

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QThere is a long tradition of group quilting.  Tales abound of neighbourly Quilt Circles who, from necessity, helped each other to make the everyday quilts for bedding, from scraps of material, often cut from old clothes.

A more modern tradition has grown up within protest groups and others working for causes, to make group peace quilts, or protest quilts.  I have picked a few out from my internet search, for you to have a look at.  Perhaps they will inspire you to make something similar within your own group?

This one comes from worldquilts.quiltstudy.org

National Peace Quilt

Title: National Peace Quilt – Maker: Boise Peace Quilt – Project Dated1984

This is the text that goes with it :  The BQP’s concern about the effects of Cold War rhetoric on their children influenced their quilts. In 1984, the BQP stitched National Peace Quilt. Schoolchildren drew blocks and BQP members transferred them to quilt blocks. The BQP solicited senators to sleep under it for a night. Each senator was then asked to reflect on the damage that the Cold War was doing to the nation’s children and to write their thoughts in a journal that traveled with the quilt. Image courtesy of the Boise Peace Quilt Project

This one comes from haitipeacequilts.org

Quilt artist Denise Estavat tells the story of life in the village where she grew up.  The men cut sugar cane and the oxen pull the cart to deliver it to market.  Notice the intense echo quilting and refined details in embroidery.

Quilt artist Denise Estavat tells the story of life in the village where she grew up. The men cut sugar cane and the oxen pull the cart to deliver it to market. Notice the intense echo quilting and refined details in embroidery.

PEACE QUILTS is a non-profit, ecomonic development organisation relieving poverty in Haiti by establishing and supporting independent, member-owned, women’s sewing co-operatives ….We also market their one-of-a-kind art quilts and a product line of affordable quilted items…….

peacequilt.wordpress.com is the website of the Worldwide Schools’ International Peace Quilt competition – this is a picture from their gallery showing children from the International School of Curitiba Brazil who worked on their 2013 quilt.

brazil-aba_Fotor

Lastly, this quilt which is based on the CND symbol, is on quiltinspiration.blogspot.co.uk, and the pattern, along with many others, is available free, for you to make for yourself.

Give Peace A Chance, free quilt pattern by Rosemarie Lavin and Jean Ann Wright for the Feelin' Groovy Fabric Collection at Windham Fabrics

Give Peace A Chance, free quilt pattern by Rosemarie Lavin and Jean Ann Wright for the Feelin’ Groovy Fabric Collection at Windham Fabrics