Monday, August 14, 2017

Upgrading my stereo

It's been a while since I posted anything major  around how I enjoy one of my big interests, music, since the last addition was replacing the Turntable a couple of years back to improve the sound of my records and getting a quite remarkable amplifier to take that sound loud enough to fill the room when driving my loud speakers.
It may seen an odd topic to post on a middles blog but as music and what I have heard it from has been an interest from around the age of nine getting involved across actual childhood in building up stereo systems it's a valid part of age regressed life for me.
I have three main sources of recorded music, records which was what I grew up with, compact discs that after a brief period with pre-recorded cassettes I moved to in the mid 1980's and downloads increasingly lossless and so-called high definition better than cd ones at that.
The last cd player was a 1994 model by Rotel which was a high quality model bought as a stop gap when it's predecessor had a sudden death in April of 2013 but I had been hankering for something better for a while and I spotted this reconditioned and warranted that appealed.
Enter the Marantz SA 7003 

It's a compact disc player with a difference: it plays the physical form of high definition recordings known as Super Audio Compact Discs (sacd) of which I had a good number as mine had a player for regular cd players and the super audio cd layer that I have bought over the years for the excellence of their regular cd layer sound.
The main benefit of such recordings isn't that the highest notes are more extended although they can be, it's that because the use more smaller samples of analogue sound when it reassembles it it is that much more accurate and smoother.

It has a few sockets on the back you need to wire up and being a very quality piece of equipment these are gold plated having the line outputs to couple to your amplifier, digital outputs for either digital recorders or external conversion of its digits to sound and a twin pin IEC ("kettle") socket for the mains lead.
That was fun as one wasn't included and  didn't have a spare at hand, so being only familiar with 'figure of eight' and three pin IEC ones I wasn't sure I needed to order a special lead up but as it happens you can use a three pin lead on a device with the IEC socket in two pin form.

One big improvement on many players is the draw that holds the disc is not floppy plastic like some cheap computer dvd drive but is solid and is designed to reduce vibration when it spins the disc. The case is also well made with plenty of metal.
The internal electrics use good quality components Cirrus digital to analogue convertors and high quality modules for taking the sound and sending that through the outputs. 
Originally this player had a suggested retail price of just over £600 being seen as a middle market model within Marantz's range offering something from the more expensive range for those who could afford something better than a basic regular player.
Having had this  for a few days on both super audio cd and regular discs the improvements in disc transport and conversion of those digits to sound is certainly amongst the best I've ever heard, sounding more life-like.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Playing the game at Jo's

Recently when I posted my last entry I kind of noticed two new followers, something that doesn't happen so often so welcome to one of the longest running active middle/littles blogs on the interwebs.
The focus on the life lived and one in your own way you can make for yourself as that person is one of things that makes this blog what it is although naturally this blog is very much middle/little girl centred.
In other words it's not a fantasy, the blog of one who may dream of a life but to whom it always remains so but is grounded in reality.
Thus it's not just the things I like to play with such as my dollies nor is about just what I wear or would wish to but it includes the very things that were a part of it so I may mention events, events that did form a part of currency of actual childhood at that time such as changes of Leaders and Monarchs, major events that we all watch and talk about.
Those things were and are still a part of the glue to holds us together that we have feelings we share just as much as we did when we played games or otherwise interacted with one another.
No, the thing that's not here is stuff for Big People such as political discourse, sexual content, violence (unless it affected children) and so on.
On a typical schoolday, we often talked about the former like if some leader had changed or about sports personalities as we played sports although like with dancing  most of mine were disability sports and wheelchair ones at that  too so it's hardly surprising that today in my age regressed life that when playing games like at the Sports Day picture at the top of this entry I'd do that but leave the other stuff at the door and this blog is the same.
For me, age regression is just about being me and when I sit typing this that's where each and every entry is coming from.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Summer Littles Camp 2017

 (Picture credits: UK Forestry Commission)

As mentioned on last Monday's blog, I was away for six days on what is called a 'littles' camp although I'm more a middle and it had more of a mainly  female flavour although little and middles boys aren't stopped from attending.
Put simply they are get togethers of littles and middles plus caregivers/partners where we enjoy doing more child-like age regressed things together.
For me attending requires travelling to one of our groups members setting out on the Friday while one bus was one time, the connecting service to our rail station went AWL so I got drenched in the rain for a half hour and then needed to use my cellphone on the bus to let the person I know I'd be on the next train down which as ever is a London Midland service.
The train only takes just over a half hour with two stops before I met with them as finished off some shopping while it rained making our way to the parking lot and driving down to their spacious house.
Wearing my red sweater and green pleated skirt I did some colouring until it was time to eat for which we had had pork chops, boiled cabbage and mashed potatoes with a glass of ginger beer watching some television before getting to bed ready for Saturdays drive down.
On the Saturday we set off around ten having had cereals and tea with myself in my black pinafore dress with its "Junior Prefect" badge affixed, red and white striped tie and grey socks sat in the front passenger seat as we navigated around Dudley and Oldbury stopping at zebra crossings for people crossing the road. This was necessary due to extensive work on the road network around Birmingham that weekend before heading toward St Neots and Cambridge making quick route alterations to avoid delays so we arrived at the large property in East Anglia for two in the afternoon ready for the fun and games meeting the two people who did the booking.
Open opening the door, a series of big paw prints seemed to around the door as the theme of the event was the Gruffalo stories by Julia Donaldson and apart from unpacking our stuff with help, I helped with setting up the chalkboard where the program would be put.
I fixed myself a cup of tea, ate a oatmeal bar and got on with a bit of colouring between meeting and greeting the other people as they arrived and taking some pictures.
Most of the group upon arrival ordered and collected various foods from a well regarded Indian takeaway to eat for an evening meal but the person who took and who looks after me had decided to make something ourselves.
Yes that was a plural cos it Twenty-seventeen and actually I'm expected to do things I am capable of so I peeled the potatoes and fetched the pans, filling them.
There was a mysterious gift that I believe was from a relative newcomer that was a small gruffalo backpack outside so thanks for that.
Soon enough Saturday moved around to Sunday where I did help a lot setting up for breakfast before the morning's activities began which was Arts and Craft where I made a gruffalo themed place mat in the form of a Fox back by card for extra rigidility with my name on it and did some gruffalo themed colouring although felt crafts were an option.
Miss Green presented a most agreeable selection of salad based Black Country fayre to which having lived here in the North-west Midlands for a good while I was most familiar with complete with beef dripping cooked British Chips for our midday meal.
The afternoon was a traditional British school style sports day for which I was in my yellow vest top, green PE skirt and white socks.
I took part in the bean-bag relay, rockets for softies and the sack race which was very much the final event for me as fell hard to the ground impacting the lower third of back  needing help to get up and being shaken up with it apart from suffering bad back pain with bruising.
There was archery and few other events but I was pretty much out of it by that point with people especially Caroline keeping an eye on me and also it meant I needed to rest so she and Kelly set the table for the evening meal which was my 'chore' so this is a good a point as any to thank them specifically and everyone else for their concern for my welfare.
Curly made a scrumptious beef stew with dumplings (potatoes were an option too but  I passed on that feeling off) and a meringue with a fruit topping which was very enjoyable.
Jillian laid on in the evening a general knowledge quiz which was entertaining and enjoyable too that Karla and Caroline won.
Miss Green concluded the evening by reading in the easy for some of us to follow black country accent the first Gruffalo story.

Upon Monday morning after breakfast we had some more arts and crafts so I opted to draw a picture of a friendly monster rabbit, make a Jack o' lantern and colour a picture although others did more crafts stuff and we all submitted our monster based pictures into a competition with Alice winning first  prizing and second and third respectively going to Daisy and Sammy.
Karla and Caroline  had put together a amazing gruffalo themed lunch with table settings to match with sandwich rolls, sausage rolls , pork pies, chicken legs and much salad. To top it they even made gruffalo themed cupcakes. Mouthwatering!
As it was going to soon Sally, Kelly and Suzy's birthdays signed cards were presented and birthday cakes bought to share.
After a period to let all that wonderful food go down, in the afternoon the Gruffalo Games started with a gruffalo version of the British childhood game British Bulldog, a gruffalo item hunt, placing the wart on the gruffalo competition and a couple of rounds of pass the parcel which I did win a prize in and from a lucky draw of prizes I got the Gruffalo dvd.
A number of us got balloons that made a loud squeal when having been blown up the air was released which resulted in a few of us definitely acting like kids.
Our  evening meal was a Gruffalo BBQ where hamburgers, hots dogs, marinated spicy chicken cheeses and the like were on offer and the meats cooked on an actual bbq before being kept in an oven while everything was finished and as the weather was very good , we had this outdoors.
Tuesday morning was a more chilled time where a number of us went outside and played croquet, took photographs as it was quite sunny plus seeing Andi had a stash of Bubble Wands went around running with trails of bubbles following us with Sammy and  I chasing around each other with them in a most child-like way.

Later on Curly put on a dress up session were we could put on different costumes, and maybe some face paint and just pretend to be some character or other which I'm sure many of us recall doing during our actual childhoods.
Lunch was ably provided by Becky who did spicy chicken fajitas with a salad but Miss Green and myself made Oxtail soup as that was more us before resting a short while.
The highlight of the afternoon was the gruffalo themed Treasure Hunt  that was held mainly outdoors by Alice although we did had come come in due to a brief shower, something much forecast for entire time but lucky didn't really materialize. This involved looking for clues that led to others. Afterward we had Owl Icecream served in cornets that was very yummy.
Our evening meal was fish and chips with the odd personal exception like a large chicken Jillian consumed, which we had phone in our orders for earlier on and to which a driver and assistance set out by car to collect and cakes and to which I'd set the table.
In the evening as our brief shower had left we sat outside by the picnic tables where I run the music quiz with twenty-two questions with four teams to work through the printed questions covering music from the nineteen-seventies to today.
The Not a Clues won with thirteen points winning the prizes of a Jacqueline Wilson colouring book (a fine colouring book i.m.h.o) and matching top quality colouring pencils.
After a short break, Daisy, an accomplished guitarist, performed a set songs drawn from the Lindisfarne and Dire Straits songbooks and a magical version of the Pink Floyd song Wish You Were Here which was very well received.
Wednesday soon came around so after individually we'd done our own packing, which if your like me you tend to a do a bit per day we got breakfast and systematically went around tidying up everywhere, sweeping up with the help of "Henry" the sweeper checking nothing was left behind  before packing our cars ready to leave.
I helped Miss Green with our packing as we had things like the sports equipment to transport before we left just after half past ten and arrived within three hours back in South Staffordshire.
Between unpacking which at one point did leave me thinking where did I put my trusty circa 2009 Canon camera we had some left over cakes from Camp and tea.
For tea Miss Green went to a nearby village and bought fish and chips with cakes from the local Co-op store which we had before watching C.I.S and a program about the making of sweets over the centuries on the television before bedtime.
I was up at seven to do the final bit of packing by which time it had started to shower so after a cereal breakfast and tea Miss Green left to go into town and drop me off by the rail station where upon I caught the 09:54 service to our big rail station where seeing it was still showing I got into a six seater black taxi to make my way to my house for just past eleven o' clock.

I would to thank every one who both attended and contributed something to making our time away fun starting with Karla and Caroline who as organizers came up with the Gruffalo theme  carrying it through with their own contributions when it came to catering, events such as the arts and crafts and Grufallo games. Your contribution was amazing.
I'd like to thank Curly, Miss Green, Becky, Daisy and Suzy with assorted helpers for your contribution with providing a midday and evening meal and Jillian with Sally-Jane for ordering and fetching the fish and chips without which they would be many empty tummies.
We don't presently have external caterers and I would support looking more into it so people don't need to pull away from little activities they enjoy to 'big up' for food.
I'll also thank the many activity makers who laid on events such as Mr. Paul with Karla for the disco and the folks who put on games, quizzes, art sessions or performed cos having a busy varied program really helps us bring out or little (or middle) side and engage with it.
My personal thanks to Miss Green for her hospitality at GHS and looking out for me throughout the whole time cos I do have real life needs in that respect.

If doing something like this appeals it need not be on a really big scale, you could have a day or two as a 'sleepover' as a group of two or three in a flat or house putting together a few activities to share although you may feel the need to check if you have a good sense of seclusion if you wish to play very much little (such as with pacifiers etc) out of doors.

Monday, July 31, 2017

On being away

Today I'm not actually at home so I have written this entry up in advance as I have been busy from the middle of last week getting ready to go away for what is in effect my summer holiday, one that features my friends too.
I know that compared to a good number of others my many disabilities aside, I am actually privileged to be able to my life more as it best suits me and to have been able working with people to arrive at something that works respecting my very child-like nature, interests and vulnerabilities.
I am treated and looked after as the little girl within I am, helped to do as much as I can for myself and to contribute as her within my abilities in my relationship with others.
For me this period away might as well of been the vacation I always wanted as that child and why it is I love and only wish more were able to enjoy one like it.
Until next week, hugs Jo. x

Monday, July 24, 2017

Stitched memories

If there is one past in the present moment in this life I'd love to recreate anew then this experience would be one on my list of five I'd put toward the top of it.
You see, for me visiting grandma's meant many things, playing games usually the sorts of games we either never had or perhaps no one would of thought I'd love like connect four, or tv shows my folks had issues with but talking with her about what was being shown and soft drinks and biscuits.
To me that was more fun than being locked into a car for three-quarters of an hour on your own and we'd make things from either paper or even make cakes.
The big thing was near enough every other week I'd be measured and we'd go through knitting patterns as she hand knitted nearly every single cardigan or sweater I had adapting the instructions to get a perfect fit on me usually at the same time and the same style as my female cousins in either dusty pink a odd mixture of bluesy pink, red or grey.
So outside of school uniform, I never owned a machine made one into past my teens often on a similar style to the one on the right.
It's enough to know she's very much missed by me.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Teenbeat XXVI -Four wheel drive

Now for one after the twenty-fifth numbered edition of teenbeat, the series that looks at music that in someway is connected to my past we go back to the Great White North home of decent winters and unfailing  politeness.
The establishment internationally of Canadian artists until the late nineteen-sixties was very much a hit and miss affair not least for being a smaller country it was seen as market for American and British talent with the recording industry geared more around the manufacture and marketing of those acts for their bigger UK and US owners until beatle money from the likes of Capitol Canada filtered down and labels had artists and repertoire looking inward at promoting homegrown talent.
Amongst the first were Edward Bear and the Guess Who both of which achieved great sales and respect not just back in North America but around the world. The Guess Who having a huge hit with  American Woman disbanded in early seventies featured Randy Bachman from which after the abortive attempt at making a fresh start as Brave Belt lead on to the formation of Bachman Turner Overdrive who specialized in blues based hard rock.
The outfit comprising at launch of Randy Bachman on lead guitar, Fred Turner on bass, both sharing lead vocal duties coupled with Robbie Bachman on drums with Tim Bachman on guitar and drums all hailed from Winnipeg, Manitoba issuing two albums before Tim Bachman was replaced by Blair Thornton for guitars between nineteen seventy-four through seventy-seven.
It was that line up rather than the later ones that made there impression on me glued as ever as a sickly disabled kid with such  hit 45's as Blue Collar,Let It Ride, Takin' Care of Business, the breakout You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet in seventy-four, Hey You and Take It Like  Man blasting out of the radio when bed bound.
The impression you might get today from oldies radio is they were just about hit hard rock 45's  but actually as someone who does own many of their albums on original vinyl, they did produce coherent musically interesting albums of which probably the best is Not Fragile which sold by the cartload back then too.
Last year the North American specialist re-issue company Caroline issued a box set of eight original albums including the less popular Street Action and Rock and Roll Nights albums of the late nineteen-seventies of which the latter saw British Columbian songwriter Jim Vallance contribute songs of which one Rock And Roll Hell was covered by American metal stars Kiss on their Creatures OF The Night Album in nineteen eighty-two.
So there's a reason to have those two albums.
When you open out the box, what you get is the booklet which gives a short history of the band and those eight original albums in cd form freshly remastered by Andy Pierce in the UK.
There's no truth in the rumour here Catgirl Enterprises LLC photography dept was going for the ISO 1600 retro effect on that shot (lol)!
The booklet includes full colour photography including live shots of the band many of which were used originally for those albums that were issued in gatefold sleeves. Note too how the bands logo features the Maple Leaf.

Unlike some UK reissues in recent years, each album is issued as a separate compact disc reproducing its original front and rear lp album art shown going left to right from seventy-nine's Rock and Roll Nights to the album that started it all, Bachman Turner Overdrive from seventy-three.
Unfortunately as with a number of these sets they have dispensed with an inner sleeve so you need to carefully prise open the edge to get the disc out to avoid marking it which is a pity given the print quality is respectable.
The last two albums are otherwise unable new and very expensive used in cd form and the others were until several years ago where between England's BGO and Lemon/Rock Candy  records the first six were too.
Personally I prefer the feel of this set which plays a big part in the whole tactile memories of handling the albums and forty-fives I had while the material is amongst some of the fines blues hard rock ever recorded with fine musicianship.
For around GBP £30 I feel this is a great introduction to a very interesting band and probably serves people better than 1993's out of print Anthology two cd set on Mercury/Universal Music.

Monday, July 17, 2017

My weekend with "picnic"

As mentioned at a few places, I was going away for what a few days which included the annual Ikklespace Picnic but it wasn't as planned starting with being pawley the day before with bad milk making me sick and feeling generally yukky.
Thankfully I had packed mainly the day before so I only had the toiletries to pack and a quick check before leaving Friday by bus to the very best rail station in the North-west Midlands to catch my train to meet up with one person before setting off the next day.
Seeing I was travelling across mealtimes I had a light lunch before setting off and consumed a Oat Flapjack on the station while waiting for my train to come in on time, which it did, observe one that was running thirteen minutes late and another ultimately get cancelled at Nantwich!
When I arrived it was sunny and I changed to my maroon pleated skirt that matched by sweatshirt, settling down to colouring in my "Coloring for girls" colouring book while sipping tea and talking.
Seeing it was not going to be long before our Evening meal, it was time for to help out with preparing  it so I scrapped and chopped the home grown potatoes and cut the cabbage to be put on the boil while the beef was cooked with its own fat for an hour and twenty minutes.
I also made Rhubarb pie by cutting the rhubarb into bits to boil until soft before making the pastry with 6 Oz flour, 3 Oz fat kneading together and adding 2 Oz sugar to caramelize the pastry.
The pie was served with ice cream and was delicious while the beef turned out really well.
In the evening, we watched the highlights of that days Tour de France as person I was with is a keen cyclist apart from being good at looking after me and First Night of The Proms.
The next morning I got, washed and dressed  ready to deal with the overnight washing up, fix my cereal and make some tea for both of us although I didn't find the Tea Cosy that keeps it warmer for longer.
We set off at half past Nine having noted the traffic issues in Birmingham and domino effects across the motorway network across the Black Country and onto Worcestershire.
It was there we noticed the weather that had been forecast to better toward the South East didn't seem to be what was forecast and indeed outside a period in Oxfordshire it proved to be very much mizzy with constant light rain
We stopped at a one village for the General Stores before arriving at the venue only to find understandably it had been moved into Sammy's house which had I of had cellphone on spotted I'd of  spotted a text message advising of the same. There's probably a lesson in that.
So we had to travel a few more miles on, using the stat nav and maps to get to the house.
While it was a disappointment to not be able to play outside with bubbles, kites, teddy bears and the like, actually as the group number was a bit lower people mingled around sharing in interesting conversations while others went out to look at the garden and some big electric  train related equipment her partner has.
It's also the reason rather having a picture of playing with things there's a picture of train instead on this post!
This combination of a smaller gathering probably helped people to feel more together rather than being in small clusters with the food people had brought to event being shared in the kitchen area such as pies, scotch eggs, banana's, crisps and assorted tasty cupcakes and lolipops which it has to be said I'm a great fan of.
We left at half past four after saying our goodbyes as we needed to travel back to South Staffordshire where it was noted as soon as we got toward Worcestershire it was quite bright bringing the thought maybe a picnic up here be an idea?
We called in just leaving Stourbridge to a Fish and Chip shop for Cod and chips for our evening meal that night to save cooking so enabling a relaxed end to what rain aside had been a great day with friends and anyway Fish and Chips always goes down well when you're a Catgirl!
It was scrumptious.
We watched some more Tour de France while sipping tea and fairy cakes followed by listening to some eighties music when I made may way to bed on all four paws.
I woke up about half six after a good night's sleep tm, got dressed  and did the overnight dishes before fixing my cereal and making tea.
I left around of twenty past Ten having left the person I was with a present wrapped in teddy bear paper and catching the Eleven o clock train home plus a a cab to the door well not quite as he overshot the turning for my house so I had a two hundred yard walk!
I'd like to thank Sammy and Mr. P for opening their home when it was clear the outdoor picnic wasn't going to work, everyone there including the new in the flesh to me Miss L and Miss Green for looking after mes on what was a most lovely weekend.