Monday, 23 February 2009

23rd Feb 09

I drove into the centre of Cambridge today to have a meeting with a colleague and as I walked along The Backs I had one of those moments where it strikes you just how beautiful Cambridge is.

My family and I have lived here for the last 3.5 years and absolutely love it – but there is the odd moment when you are suddenly reminded just how lucky you are to live in such a beautiful city. All the crocuses are in bud and by Trinity College there is a purple carpet of them. Truly wonderful and worth taking a few minutes to appreciate.

22nd Feb 09

We all know that our pavements are in a sorry state and I’m walking most of the streets in the Hardwick Ward at the moment delivering our latest edition of Focus whilst compiling a list for the Highways Department so that we don’t get forgotten again when the next round of repair work is done.

But spare a thought for those less steady on their feet and those who use mobility scooters. There are plenty of dropped curbs around but not always at the best place to cross and the sorry state of some pavements – especially in the High Street in Barton - make it very difficult for some people to get to their local shops on their own.

Between now and the end of March I’m trying to flag up as many pavement problems as possible, so if you do notice one please let me know at

19th Feb 09

U Turns!

I need to master these – but of the 2 wheeled variety not the political sort.

Now that the weather is better I’ve plucked up courage and sorted out my bike lessons and test – date a closely guarded secret having already failed on U Turns (well throttle control too!)

The weather is certainly more conducive – but the pot holed state of the roads means that I will be doing my practice runs in daylight and not risking life and limb on our sorry Cambridge Roads until pot holes are filled in.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

9th Feb 09

Sometimes you just have stop for a few hours and take stock of things.

Today will be very long but it’s a day for running through all my paperwork and double checking that my to do list hasn’t missed anything I’ve been contacted about and that my diary is up to date . I also hope to trawl through my ever expanding Inbox and deal with the emails that are just a quick read before deleting and action those that really require it.

And – time willing - I also hope to update my website which others have kindly been keeping ticking over whilst I hit the ground running as a new County Councillor.

Along with lots of families across the country I’m bracing myself for half term next week and mentally sticking a lock on the office door to stop things being moved about or borrowed! As I have sons, I find threatening to give them very public displays of affection normally does the trick. They are the best behaved individuals you could ever find on a shopping trip to a supermarket!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

8th Feb 09

I.T. when it works is a truly wonderful thing – my sons thinks I’m a dinosaur when I tell them that I was the bees knees in my office back in the 1980s with an 80 Mb hard drive.

When it works, I can email friends and relatives all over the world. My ex-husband and I have dramatically reduced our phone bills now that he and the boys use Skype and a webcam to keep in touch between the UK and USA. Even my ever patient other half (who doesn’t live with us and travels a lot) frequently helps out with maths homework over Instant Messaging.

Because I, and most of my neighbours, use a wireless connection there is the odd moment at weekends when things are a bit up and down but most of the time it’s fine.

But it’s not like that everywhere locally – particularly in Coton – and it really staggers me that they are so close to Cambridge and yet have such a poor broadband connection.

I’m looking into this as the County Councillor and hope to have an update soon. But until then I can only imagine the frustration of trying to work from home with a service that just drops out with no warning and may not be back until the next day.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

5th Feb 09

With lots of County Schools closed this morning my children got an unexpected tour of Shire Hall whilst I attended a Scrutiny Committee Meeting – I was determined that no amount of snow would stop me getting there to discuss the proposed closure of Wessex Place. At least it answered the question of “So Mum, what did you do today?” which one of them asks me every day when he gets back from school.

My usual 15 minute journey took about 90 minutes, not least of which was due to the lorry stuck on Madingley Hill which brought the area to a gridlocked standstill.

What struck me most about my drive in, was the plight of cyclists. Despite the fact that Cambridge was recently accredited as a Cycle Demonstration City, our cyclists get a raw deal from the County Council administration.

Cycle paths are gritted if all the following are ticked on a checklist:

· surface temperatures are unlikely to rise above freezing point for the period;
· ice is forecast and conditions continue until after midday on any individual day;
· there is enough salt to grit roadways.

So cyclists have to struggle in on untreated cycle surfaces and hope a) they don’t have an accident, b) the checklist conditions will be met sooner rather than later.

I’ve yet to be convinced that this administration really does want to encourage motorists away from their cars and to encourage cycle use!

All I can say is that the two people I saw cycling through the snow of Madingley Village this morning are hardy and brave souls. Motorists showed them no consideration and a few managed to drive so close to them that they were sprayed in Slush. Shameful!

Monday, 2 February 2009

2nd Feb 09

Well – it was indeed snowy today – and as I span 180 degrees I did at least remember the advice to take my foot of the brake and steer into it. Luckily I was doing 5 mph at the time but I wont be back out there again this evening. Car and driver intact!

My day started early with son No.2 desperate to listen to the Radio and see if his school was closed. I've seen very little of him since he got the “good” news that it was closed.

It’s been a quiet day really. Focus was finished yesterday and should be back from the Printer’s by the weekend. My “brave” forage out was for a few more photos to complete it.

My only regret is that I didn’t build a snowman in the garden with my sons – they spent the day with friends having a great time in a snowy field. If the Radio tells us that schools are closed again tomorrow I think we’ll be out there early building one.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

1st Feb 09

I’ve spent the afternoon tucked up inside, in the warmth, typing up articles for a FOCUS due out this week. I seem to be becoming a “Southern Softie” as my Scottish other half puts it. My days of living in Holland and “enjoying” temperatures of -11 seem to be long gone – but not the memory of living in an old, unconverted, farmhouse with no central heating!

The other members of the household are just keeping their fingers crossed that there will be enough snow falling to keep the schools closed tomorrow. If only all of life’s issues could be solved so simply!

31st Jan 09

Phew – tax return in by the skin of my teeth – along with a lot of other people! I’ve promised myself to get it done in April this year but have just been reminded I said that last year as well. Oh well - it's something to work towards.

It has been very cold today and I'm not sure whether or not to be thrilled or upset about being called a hoodie in my quest to keep warm with layers. I refuse to accept that I have to give up wearing jeans and a sweatshirt at the weekends just because I'm over 40 – After all, I do wear a suit Monday to Friday.

Which has made me think about Michelle Obama. I've not been particularly impressed with all the press coverage this week focusing on Michelle Obama's wardrobe. Neck on the block time I think whoever advised her about the dress and glove combination on inauguration day got it wrong – but that’s just my personal opinion and not worthy of column inches. Why is she defined by what she wears?

She is a successful lawyer whose husband worked as her office intern twenty years ago. Anyone remember Tony and Cherie Blair and see a resemblance? Cherie's wardrobe might not be to everyone's taste at all times - but that seems to get more comment in some quarters than her successful career as a QC.