The first snowflakes (leucojum) are opening, rather earlier than usual. They’re much taller than snowdrops (galanthus), with long thin strap-like leaves, and open later in the year. Sadly, although I’ve tried several times, I just can’t manage to grow ordinary snowdrops here!

pressure …

After firkling in a couple of Riso user groups, I thought it likely that the uneven print we’ve been having on the Riso was due to a worn pressure roller. Riso don’t do these any longer, but I managed to order a knock-off via US Ebay from China. It arrived yesterday.

Looked like a simple job – remove one screw, then remove roller. What the Technical Manual doesn’t tell you about putting it back is that the screw is non-magnetic (so won’t stay on the end of the screwdriver), almost inaccessible to human fingers, and if you drop it, it will roll though a hole in the plate and you’ll have to remove the entire front of the machine to dig it out! A ten-minute job took ninety minutes.

Still, it’s done now, and has made a massive improvement to print quality.

And I’d rather be Riso-wrangling than my past history of sorting out sump pumps while standing chest-deep in freezing water, or debugging digital multiplex stuff at 4am up a 30-foot ladder. For those of us who are self-described techies, life is certainly varied!

The new roller arrives:

The old roller in situ:

Entire front off the Riso …


Glorious sunshine streaming in through the French window has brought the inside temperature up to 22C – a saving on central heating bills! Outside is a meagre 5.5C, but feels springlike, and the Glastonbury Thorn looks as though it wants to open blossom any day now.

spring stirrings

The “amaryllis” on the bathroom windowsill is showing the first signs of an emerging flower spike, a week or so later than usual. It will be the 9th year it’s flowered here!

In the garden, the snowflake (leucojum) leaves are fully grown (flowers won’t appear for another three weeks or so), the daffodil leaves are about 4 inches high, and the first leaves of the blue hyacinths are just breaking through the surface soil. Everything now feels as though it’s moving forwards towards spring.

12th night

Decorations are now down. As usual, I’ll keep the tree in the (unheated, windows now ajar) front room for a couple of days before putting it back outside – the next few days promise to be chilly, and I don’t want to give the poor thing too much of a shock.

yay !

Up at 0630, to feed cat and sort things in advance of visit by washer-dryer repair person. He arrived bang on 0715 as promised, and by 0740 had diagnosed and replaced worn motor brushes … all done before sunrise!

The rather soggy duvet cover (from when the machine broke down), which has been lurking in the bath, can now be dealt with.

appliance down!

The washing machine, which started behaving erratically just before Christmas, has finally died. I’ve checked the filter and so on, with no joy. Engineer booked for tomorrow “between 7.15 am and 8.00 pm”. Bugger! As the cat is fed on the kitchen table and will have to be breakfasted before I can move the table out for the engineer, it looks like getting up at about 6.30 to do an early morning sort-out.
Still, the machine was bought June 2014, so it hasn’t done badly. In fact, washer-dryers are notoriously so unreliable that I covered it with a “repair and replace” extended guarantee (the only appliance I’ve done that for), so tomorrow’s visit will be free.

slightly unseasonal

Squelching my way up to the compost bin just now, I noticed that the Glastonbury Thorn has broken some buds and seems to be getting ready to flower! Traditionally, it’s supposed to blossom at Christmas and in May. Not a good photo – twilight, strong winds, and a snap on the phone because weather is too miserable to go in come back out again with a decent camera …

New Year’s Day.

As always, I’ve brought in forsythia on New Year’s morning. I spent a fair bit of yesterday and this morning changing my “weight and activity” spreadsheet from running from 1st March (I started it on 1st March 2020) to running from 1st January. Target steps for 2024 are 3,300 steps in winter and 5,400 steps in summer … which is perhaps pushing it just a bit too far, but hopefully will motivate me a bit.

.                              BLUE – 2020    RED – 2021    YELLOW – 2022     GREEN – 2023