Sunday, 2 June 2013

Computer troubles - again: a trip to France, plus a New Direction for Cy Bear and Friends.

Hello Everybody - it seems a long time since both Cy Bear and I were blogging here, but life has been somewhat of a whirlwind of late, and it has not been aided by the continuing saga of my battle with the new computer.  I love the computer itself, but it seems to have a fatal attraction for viruses - no matter the security protection against such invasions that are in place.  To the point that, for the second time in the three months  I've had the darn thing, a second screen appeared - (almost by magic).  It slowed everything down;   every- thing I did got duplicated - while I was bombarded with special offers.  Plus the announcements that I'd won things I didn't want, while being prevented in doing what needed to be done!

 The first time it occurred I laid the blame entirely on myself and unfamiliarity with Windows 8:  the second time has made me think it might just not be ALL my fault.   Having the benefit of a friendly young techie relatively handy (but not free from charging!) I got the whole thing cleaned up for me first time around.  However, the thought of another paid session with said young techie (they're all young to me, these days!), I decided to contact HP Support to see what, if anything, they could suggest.    Having spent an inordinate time on the telephone with the helpful Hewlett Packard techies yesterday - they rang me back half-way through the long-distance session, fortunately - I was told how to return the computer to its "factory default" position (to quote one of my new- found friends):   and then told how to start up again.  The trouble is that I now don't trust the computer.  Nor do I want to waste my time loading everything I need onto it - for everything to go wrong again in a few weeks.  I cannot spare the time involved- more anon!

 So, as I've got something like 289 days of Warranty Cover  in hand, am going to exercise my consumer rights to see if I can get a brand new Sleekbook 15 Laptop model - and hope that I can develop the same friendly relationship with it that I've had with my back up computer - a Compaq Presario, on which I am happily producing this post, that has served me well for several years.  The prime reason I decided to go for a new one was that the hinges broke - plastic fatigue.  A lap top needing to be propped up with three reels of cellotape is not exactly compatible with an efficient workplace.  It was also becoming somewhat out of date!  Besides, I need a reliable computer - which brings me, in a round about fashion, to the second bit of this post.

When Cy Bear and I last posted earlier in mid-May, I was about to go for a holiday to Normandy - and it's since returning that all the computer problems re-emerged.  The trip over the English Channel was as smooth as travelling on glass - thank goodness.  Because it was the first SeaCat voyage of the 2013 season, all passengers (not many, as it was an 0700 BST start, on a frosty Thursday morning) were offered a free glass of wine, courtesy of "Le Capitaine" half-way through the crossing.  Having accepted - it was good drop of red wine that I chose! -  felt brave enough to even get up from my comfortable seat and wander around the boat.  That did not last long:  after looking out of a nearby window, I was sufficiently alarmed at just how close the English Channel surface was to the floor on which I was walking, to rapidly return to where I'd started and buried my head into a copy of "The Lady" magazine, to which I subscribe weekly,  until the end of the voyage.

Le Havre - as we came into port - the sea was like that  all the way over!
This time around, the weather was not as bad as it had been in October.  We actually managed to have lunch  al fresco twice  -

and I was able to see something of the Normandy countryside - very pretty, with all the pear and apple orchards in blossom, with the promise of a good crop of fruit to produce the cider and perry (pear cider) for which the area is famous.  (Reminded me of my young adult days, when I spent week-ends in Kent before many of the orchards - for which the county was famous - were dug up).  Kent was not called the "Garden of England" for nothing!
Nearby Farm, with it's Orchard in blossom
We still had plenty of rain for most of the time, but it didn't stop one being able to take the dog for walks (even managed to do a 12 kilometre jaunt - about three and half miles - one day), taking in the local views.  

I was also able catch up with Cy Bear's twin - Peter Bear - seen here on the left.  He was made last year and used up the rest of the Beaver Lamb coat from which Cy Bear was created. When making him, I corrected the mistakes  made in Cy's production, so he is a safer option for Little People to handle.

Peter Bear's Forever Home is now with MmeIM, my sister-in-law, who is also the Forever Friend of Mme Lapin and Mons. Reynard - both former patients in the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185)  and both the subjects of their own posts here on this blog.  Peter Bear now occupies pride of place on MmeIM's dressing table, while the other two Associate Cuddlies have been wrapped up in preparation for becoming New Best Friends to MmeIM's little grand daughter, CM - when she is a older.  She's just four, and still at the age where  toys can be roughly handled.    After all that Mme Lapin and Mons. Reynard have gone through, and in deference to their age,  it is felt that Little One needs to be  older to properly appreciate them.

However, all three of these Cuddlies formed the basis of a story that Cy Bear authored a few weeks' ago which I submitted for a competition being run by the Academy of Children's Writers - who are based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, UK.  I learned about this competition via "The Lady" and, having been encouraged by some of you wonderful Followers' comments on this blog to consider writing for children I decided to try my luck:  "nothing ventured:  nothing won" etc. et al.  Closing date for entries was April 30, and to be honest, I'd forgotten about it while away in France.

A Normandy Spring Scene
Yesterday, the following letter arrived from the Academy of Children's Writers, which opens up some interesting new possibilities for Cy Bear, the Blog and myself.  Forgive me if I quote it quite extensively - because the contents are extremely exciting, and I want to share it with you all - since it's thanks to your support that this new opportunity has occurred.

"CONGRATULATIONS on your recent entry "Cy Bear's ColdhamCuddlies Blog" for our 2013 "Write a Story for Children" competition.  We received over 2,000 entries again this year and the overall standard was extremely high.  A list of winners is printed below for your information.  We hope to have the winners' permission to place their stories on our website shortly.

Although your story did not win one of the prizes you did reach the final 250.  To reach the final 10% the judges thought that you have an understanding of what young people like to read and that impressed them.  This is a quality that is invaluable to a would-be children's writer.  The judges suggested that I make this particular point when writing to you about your entry as we are only writing to the 10% of entrants who are short-listed.

I suspect that you have had some experience in this field - possibly in telling stories to young relatives and friends.  This suggests to me that with a little effort your talent could be developed to enable you to produce work of publication standard........"

The letter was signed by "Shirley A Cousins, Director"

The letter further contains an invitation to consider participating in their 10-unit writing course - details of which are available to those who are interested at  Not one to let a chance like this pass me by, I'm going to have a go.  Where I'm going to find the time to fit the studying in, I don't know.   However, we are given 2 years to be published - guaranteed by the course apparently:  otherwise the entire course fee is refunded!  So, wish me luck - and here Cy Bear and I go!

La Boffetiere - where I stayed - with a field of Rapeseed in the foreground
Regular bulletins will appear, normal toy construction will carry on - with some new items on schedule for introduction in the next day or so.  Meanwhile, Good Night from both of us!  Isobel