Spring time…

Beautiful park scene in town, 18 April 2017

Dear friends

It’s most definitely spring and despite a chilly breeze – we’re on the coast – we’ve had some glorious sunshine the whole week and I’m feeling guilty that I haven’t done a good spring clean.  

Last year’s spring clean didn’t really happen and I resolved to make sure I took time off this year when everyone else is at school or work to take care of the house.  Though I’ve took days off in March they were spent doing my second job (reviewing student work experience log books) and only one day I managed to do some work in the garden.

But in the last few days… (the Easter weekend) … we’ve assembled two chests of drawers (to replace the one big one that we’ve had since not long after we married), stripped our sons’ bedroom of wallpaper (that’s been pending since the ceiling was filled in about 6 months ago), and I got my hair done (pick & drop, curly lion mane style – I’ll try taking a selfish and show you) and Friday opticians, I have permission from Daur1 to spend money on myself and get new spectacles, you deserve it she beamed having recently purchased a Chromebook for herself… even though I keep giving her bus fare to get to work because she never has change!!

Anyhow, it is a wonderful time of year! Sunshine yesterday, rained at night, sunshine today.  I took some tree photos and spotted a Norway Maple – I know this tree now because on my latest project the tree officer is objecting to a grade B1 Norway Maple being felled to make way for our development.  So we’re going to work on keeping it… 

Norway Maple – distinct red and cream colour during Spring

Anyhow, I’m rambling!!  Easter weekend was great – though I had an awful piano lesson (too little practice) and my teacher said my cuckoo sounded like it was on drugs – and as I tried to sit peacefully in sacrament meeting on Sunday, to focus on the speakers, the atonement of Christ, His love for us, my love for Him, I couldn’t help thinking which way would an intercontinental nuclear missile be launched from North Korea, east or west? And where would that be intercepted? Where would the fallout be if it exploded in the atmosphere? Over Africa? Over the Pacific? Would we, here in the UK, see pink skies?… troubling times.

And at the moment the BBC news app replaces North Korea and Trump headlines for some UK news on the royal family (Prince Harry coping, or not, with the loss of his mother at age 12 and the reality of mental health), it hits us.  We’re going to have a General Election in less than 2 months (7 weeks and 1 day from when I’m writing this).  

The media is going to be full of it!! But I suspect the electorate are full of apathy. 2014 Scottish independence referendum (phew, we’re all together); 2015 general election (conservative clear win, not a surprise), 2016 EU referendum – WHAT!? I’m still to openly meet more than one person that owns up to voting leave but, I’m told, they are there! Oh, and a new PM; (And 2016 US presidential election, which, although it’s own another country, let’s face it, the whole world got involved! WHAT!?…); 2017 Brexit notice really served – farewell to EU legislation et al 😦 

And now, bring it on, 2017 UK General Election!  Son1’s first opportunity to vote, a cohort unable to vote in the EU referendum and hugely affected by the outcome, gets to vote in a snap general election.  However, the context has changed: Article 50 notice has been served, the UK will leave the European Union; EU residents are openly made to feel unwelcome – sad but true in many places; and there will be changes to immigration laws, something which could have happened without leaving the EU but….  I suspect that whoever chants UK First the loudest will win.  

It’s Spring, Jesus did rise from the dead and is alive today, and one day will come back, meanwhile let the games begin… again.


work – an American and engineers…

Dear friends

We’re on project manager number 5 on a new school project in about 3 months and we’re only at feasibility stage!! Don’t ask!  I feel the project is already doomed  – it doesn’t help that the client has not confirmed adequate funding. This PM is new to the business and is American – his Mum is British. I asked what brought him to the UK – I think it’s not impolite enough to ask when someone says they’re from Manhattan!!  His accent is slight, in a Davy Jones of The Monkees sort of way, so I didn’t ask straight away.  And he’s had some architectural training and seemed familiar with a traditional building procurement process 🙂 that’s refreshing because he may have some appreciation for our discipline rather than tip toeing around us like we’re going to get upset and all passionate about our designs!! Like that ever happens…

I was getting exasperated with the structural engineers.  When I arrived into work yesterday (after outnumbered day 10), I found 4 or 5 drawings for a reinforced concrete foundation and a steel frame for me with a note from the technician – for coordination and comment.  Today, they (their team leader) were already (email) chasing me because the contract administrator was chasing them – the drawings were due to be issued 2 days ago.  So, I red penned their drawings, signed and dated, and emailed their leader back stating – the columns clash with manholes.  Fortunately the technician still speaks with me and came over to discuss the red pen notes, finally saying, oh [leader] said it was much worse!!  Red pen, gets them every time!!! 😉

Give me building services engineers any time 🙂 – that’s the mechanical, drainage and electrical engineers – always so accommodating – of course, Mrs Architect, you can have a large, circular hole in the middle of that floor if you want it, simply give me a decent sized plant room!!  I know structures are keeping the building standing up but they’re always so inflexible – Mrs Architect, allow for 205mm columns on a 4m perpendicular grid with a structural roof zone of 500mm and you should be OK. You mean, you should be OK! And then, they have notes on drawings – like waterproofing to architect’s details – without telling you! So, I guess on the positive side, it’s good that I’ve been given the chance to review their drawings before they’re issued to the contractor.

As for our new PM, I simply hope he lasts longer than the other PMs and he’s met the client now, so if he departs questions will be asked.

helping our planet

Dear friends,
Yesterday our annual water bill arrived and we are in credit so monthly payments have reduced 🙂 not by much but it’s something. So that got me thinking on how much or little we’re doing day to day to save our planet. (I might do this over a couple of posts, as I write I realise there’s much I want to say!)

One of my more lasting memories of primary school was when a group of people came in to tell us that gas, coal & oil was running out and by the time we were grown up alternative sources would be used, sun, water, wind. Through my early teens and student days I waited for this moment where the earth would stop providing for us humans.

I’ve seen the rise, fall and rise again of nuclear energy. But we still use gas for cooking & heating. I’ve seen petrol prices rise, rise, dip and rise but still we keep on using petrol/ diesel (fossil) fueled vehicles. I have seen the rise and rise of photovoltaic (PV) units on buildings. And the rise of the Kyoto Treaty, zero carbon legislation, Passivhaus, LEED and BREAM sustainability standards for the construction industry to target.

But, fundamentally, I’m not sure that we’re changing enough. I’m heading home on public transport – we’re crawling out of town with traffic. Cycling – I would gladly do so if the roads were safer – there are some reckless drivers. But with summer time coming this weekend, maybe I will take to the bike more!  Yes, being a fair weather cyclist I can cope with! 🙂

I’m sure a more hardened environmentalist would look at our lifestyle and find many areas to improve but I don’t think we’re bad. For a family of six we produce less non recyclable waste than our octogenarian neighbour as demonstrated during the rubbish collectors strike a couple summers ago – whew!!! And last year our water supplier compared our usage to a family of 4 with a garden!! And our energy provider states we consistently use less than the ‘average’ for similar households.

So my friends, let us think on what we’re doing to help our beautiful planet Earth to continue providing for us.

And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation.

Doctrine and Covenants 45 verse 58

a frosty day

Dear friends, we had to scrape the car again this morning. This isn’t unusual but it’s not typical; we live on the coast, in northern Europe, it’s mid January, it’s winter.  So early morning seminary (youth scripture study programme) becomes more challenging and this morning scraping the car before 06h15 so my dear husband could jump in and drive the two eldest children to the church.

There’s much variation in the land around us and micro climates often means localised frost.  So yesterday when one of the (female) architects SP grimaced ‘I was scraping the car this morning,’ I agreed ‘me too.’  To which our (male) colleague DE, who loves his cars, exclaimed, “l never use a scraper on the car. Tap water with the wipers on … fast.”  SP: But that immediately freezes into a sheet of ice.  Me: yes, I tried it when my husband told me.  DE: then it would have to be sub zero temperatures.   SP/ Me: It is! There’s frost on the car!  DE: well, I never use a scraper!

So with that conversation in mind, this morning I thought, I’m going to try the tap water method, one more time….  wipers on fast,  eldest son brings jug of tap water, pour, splashes back on me, adjust position,  pour,  frost gone…, sheet of ice forms, scraping…!  DE is going to hear from me! 😦

The point is, nature is obedient to the laws of physics… water on a surfaces below 0 degrees Celsius will freeze. No stopping that. That is a law of the universe,  it’s a law from God. And all nature obeys these laws, no stopping that!  I think that’s why nature is perceived as powerful. We need to obey God’s laws as nature does, and when we do that we will have access to the strength of God 🙂

O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth.  For behold,  the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither,  to the dividing asunder,  at the command of our great and everlasting God.  Helaman 12 verses 7 & 8

corporate v creative

Dear friends, it’s a sunny afternoon as I look out over the Square with a lone skateboarder, me munching a beautiful, crunchy apple. A rest break, is the word for this in the staff survey! There’s some glitch with my email (I can see them stacking up in the outbox)… and there goes a mobile phone not on silent.

We are in an open plan office, everyone, from the operations director to the apprentice.  This is about the work station that I’ve sat in.  I am a senior architect, which means I have a small team to manage, 2 assistants & 1 architect; we are part of a larger team consisting of 16 (with landscape, interiors and health & safety); and then we are all part of one bigger international multi disciplinary practice with about 100 staff in our office.  So, when I say we had a ‘staff strategic brief’ this morning, maybe you can imagine the way it goes and the words used.  Corporate v Creative – that’s how it often feels.  But I have worked on some great projects and one of the reasons I wanted to be an architect was to improve the built environment, particularly for those most vulnerable who rely on public sector commissions for homes & education.  Since the practice is in partnership with the local authority, for the most part, I am living my dream job.  I know many people don’t have that chance, and I didn’t for 15years or so. So I am very grateful to our Father in Heaven for this job, that it’s close to home and gives the flexibility I need with our family.  🙂