Saturday, 27 January 2018


Well it's been a pretty awesome week.

If anyone read my 'ME' post 5 days ago they will know that I was pretty fired-up and ready to ruffle a few feathers.  The short answer to a long story is the day following that particular post and interview


23 years without having had so much as an interview with a potato and bang, I nail it on the first run.  Not only that, I will be working locally in the aviation service industry which has always been of interest to me.  This is of course hugely exciting considering I have been working away managing an office, punching numbers on a screen and facing a slanting roof for 17 of those years, peppered with craning my neck out of a skylight to see whether the sun had come out and occasionally feeling like leaping out the 3rd floor.  Prior to that, 6 of those years in an even smaller room managing that business and running a household whilst everyone else appeared to live it up around me.

I came away from that interview on cloud 9, stratospheric and with renewed wings.  The feedback alone that day was exceptional before I had even been accepted.  My first impressions were "What a great company this seems to be".  

So my induction starts soon, my new job needs all the usual security passes which takes time and my goodness I am finally going to work in an environment that I have interest in.


That day the wind was howling, the rain was sideways, my freshly straightened hair was squashed under a woolly hat, my shoes got wet and I lost a button on my suit. It didn't matter, nothing mattered except I had survived an interview after relatively little preparation, in a group at that.

Nana Twinkle has the wind in her sails
and fairy dust is optional

I'll leave you with this link to some funny interviews, I actually read these the morning of my interview to ease any tension I was feeling and get things into perspective a bit

Wednesday, 24 January 2018


I never had the career I wanted, for many reasons.  Discouraged by teachers, distracted by love and then disarmed by circumstances.  I made do and then my children came along and I juggled being a mum with being a work at home to support a business venture.  I cooked, cleaned, wiped away tears, taxied to and fro in between phone calls, accounts, homework, housework and bedtime.  I wiped nosesies, tickled toesies, played your games, gardened, ironed, started work again, listened to woes, lost boyfriends, unhappy customers, sickness, moans and smiles, struggled along with little money and loads of ‘not good enough’ mixed with ‘you’re great, keep smiling’.   Now these things are done.

Today, is my first real job interview in the outside world for 27 years.  I am 53 and I would like to do something in my last 10-15 years of working life that suits me, that isn’t a work around for someone or something else.  It may not be the all singing, dancing, good-salary paying job that I wanted so long ago.  But it will be something that I have chosen to do and something that interests me.  It may not involve any of my current talents or capabilities as everyone is so quick to point out to me at every opportunity “you could do better than this, you are hugely talented”.

Yes I could, yes I could have done 30 years ago, yes I love writing, yes I love Art, yes I love space and science, yes I love gardening, yes I love astronomy, yes I love making things.   Now my talents are my hobbies and I enjoy them more that way.   It stops me from the massive regrets of not pursuing them harder when I became so distracted with other things and just getting by and carrying on regardless.  This may be a hard concept to grasp and any job I take may not be 9-5 and fit around anyone else.  Now is my time to shine.  Now is my time to do something else.  Now you are all on your own.  My support hasn’t ended, it has just been diminished whilst I pick up what is left of myself.

Some will understand, some will throw their hands up in horror and some will just give me a hard time regardless.  Some will not even bother to read this.

Let me be me.

Anyone feel like unfriending or unfollowing me?  Go ahead...make my semi-centennial.

Anyone want to leave a crass comment?  Be my guest but be warned I’m capable of blocking and reporting mass-spam, hate inciting, religious freaks on Twitter and getting them shutdown, I can extend it to nutters anywhere else too.

Anyone want to be kind, thoughtful, happy and supportive here?   Welcome to my world, come in and have a seat.

To all the employers and jobs that I applied to on the Indeed website and received a response, thank you for your time.

To all the employers and jobs that I applied to on the Indeed website that couldn't be bothered, thank you for reminding me of the losers in this world.

I will be at Stansted Airport most of lunchtime being interviewed, if you've missed the opportunity to speak with an extremely talented woman, there is still time and I can be contacted on social media quite easily.

My mind may not be made up on a single job position today, but my mind is made up on one thing:  This is MY life, my choices, my way.

Monday, 15 January 2018


I don't know about you but last night's Sky at Night programme (14 Jan 2018 - The Invisible Universe) raised more questions than answers for me.  Further I don't pretend to be able to answer them either and I'm not sure there are many people on Earth can really say with authority that they KNOW what dark matter and dark energy actually looks like or behaves like.  For one thing our primitive eyes have not evolved enough to be able to see this stuff, we have to resort to other means to find it in the first place, including large facilities underground shielded from radiation.

Some of you may remember in November 2015 I attended an event at London's Tate Modern for a series of walks, talks and workshops staged as part of the International Year of Light.  I blogged about this in 2 parts covering the whole day in summary.  If that kind of thing ever turns up again, I will tweet the living daylights out of it because the whole day was very engaging and enlightening and unmissable.

Last night's programme gave a little more glimpse into the weird world of dark matter and dark energy, but as ever it was not enough for me.  To begin with let's take a look at the model and how our universe is perceived both seen and (arguably) unseen.

Watch this before reading any further, its a bit quirky but this is the Universe for 'dum dums' like me and you in 4 minutes

Now what this video doesn't do is give an insight into how light actually works, so I'm going to refer you back to my Light and Dark Matters blog part 2 here to get the ball rolling.

And then...have a little read of this, it's a few pages long but worth reacquainting yourself with the subject of light...don't forget to come back here 😜

The actual scale of our Universe is hard for us to get our heads around because well, some of us have trouble with getting around our own county let alone something billions of light years across.  Were we ever mean't to travel at the speed of light if we could because, actually, we are made of light too.  We are made of the very stuff of stars.  Our bodies reflect and absorb light.  How many times have you sat in the sunshine feeling it's warmth for a few minutes after a cold, long winter and thinking "Yeah, I can accomplish anything now!".  That's because physically your body is absorbing Vitamin D which you can't get from eating certain foods alone.  Just 10 minutes in the sun is enough to boost energy levels for healthy bone structure, boost brain activity and reduce inflammation.  Ever felt run down, tired or constantly battling a cold?  Not enough sunshine my friends!

The Universe scale is so large that we may never actually know how far the whole thing goes, at the end of this video below is a depiction of other possible universes, but does it end there?  Is that the 'brick wall' of Universes and nothing else?

In the Sky at Night programme they talked about dark matter and energy pushing and pulling at the fabric of the universe.  I imagine a network of substance rather like a carbon nanotube.  We're informed that gravity has a great part to play with dark matter and in fact I asked the question on Twitter following the programme, given Maggie's analogy with the turntable and marble spinning off it, if matter can escape the gravity and in turn our Milky Way and yes, given enough energy it could but what part does dark matter or energy have in holding all the threads (galaxies, hot spots, stars) together and therefore stopping matter spinning out?  Also, galaxies are known to collide, what is going on with dark matter then, does it 'throw a sickie' and crawl away when this process happens?!

Further we were informed that the Universe's expansion is speeding up, this has been mooted for some time, now we are being told that dark energy has something to do with it until we end up coming to what the Sky at Night so wonderfully termed "The Big Crunch" as opposed to "The Big Bang".  Supposedly 70% of the Universe's energy is this stuff and we can't actually see it?  Maybe that's why we're unlikely to ever travel to the Proxima Centauri, unless we can project ourselves to it somehow without encountering the speed of light or any of this dark stuff we can't see.

Given that we are ourselves made of light, every fibre of our being comes from light, even our thoughts are made of light matter charged particles giving off energy.  By increasing our knowledge of the cosmos, improving our brains, advancing our technologies are WE actually accelerating the expansion process?  Is this actually a battle between dark matter and light matter this pulling and pushing process?  Rather than dark energy and dark matter winning this battle, is light matter winning it?  Which is the strongest substance?  Further, if we end up not alone in this Universe and there are others also increasing their knowledge, evolution etc, then could this be the reason behind the acceleration too?  Like a critical mass of light energy hammering away at all the dark energy screaming

 "Set me free, allow me to soar
Stretch out my wings like I have never done before..."

credit: Francisco Guzman

I said I had more questions than answers!
I also said I'd push a few buttons...feel free to discuss and bounce theories and ideas around, but don't go overboard with the technical terms, because as Albert Einstein once said "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it enough"

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Before I slope off to bed

I'd like everyone in the World to remember these things in such divisive times:

Politicians will lie
Inflation is inevitable
So is work, taxes and Death
History repeats itself
Except on BBC iPlayer when you may get only 30 days
The media are manipulative
The non-fiction section of the Library is not
Culture is a worldwide phenomenon
Tolerance is a conscious choice
Google is not the only search engine
Windows will still update at inappropriate times
Macs will give you a choice but hide the result
Jesus did not turn water to wine, that takes grapes as well
Rome did conquer most of Europe
We are here to learn
We may fail the final exam
Advice is a form of nostalgia
Opinion is the lowest form of human knowledge
People will still marry
Some will divorce
True Love will always endure
Hatred will drown in its own juice
The sun will not explode in your lifetime
Betelgeuse might
The rain does stop sometimes
The weather is a global event
Apophis might give us a firework display in 20 yrs
Etna does it at least once a month
If everyone is happy with you, you've made a lot of compromises
If you're happy with everyone, you've ignored all their faults
Judgement is always served warm
Retribution is served cold
True friends will stay with you
Families are fickle but still families
You will get old
You will not remember these words when you do
Goodnight and may your God (s) go with you x

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Ugh..not another blog of Christmas woe I hear you mutter.

Tough, I need to get this all off my chest before the Christmas pudding explodes in a fiery finale.

It doesn’t help that I have 3 birthdays between 11th and 18th December, one of which is my own.  Additionally it’s the most wonderful (for that read manic) time of the business year for me, with 3 VAT quarter ends to deal with, one year end and enough PAT testing paperwork to re-sink the Titanic.

Officially the misgivings started when the tree was picked up 16th December and further as I sat surrounded the next day by baubles, pine needles and tatty tinsel.  A sudden flash thought occurred as my left L4-5 lumbosacral joint began to whine about all the extra strain:

“Bah, 2 weeks and I’ll be pulling this glitter off and dragging the mini-forest outside for firewood”.

It’s the time of year ladies when you’re other half throws all 360 day abandon of the year out the window and is reminiscent of a toddler rampaging through Tesco on a Saturday afternoon with handfuls of “we’ll have this”, “I’d like that” foot-stamping, plea-bargaining, wretched waste and wanton lust all blended with occasional bouts of Merry on High, Fah la la and Ding Dong.

Normally I have hoards to cater for on Christmas Day, all family mostly but sometimes a sprinkle of friends otherwise on their own.  The lounge becomes an extension of the dining room with a concoction of tables, chairs and dogs, breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I don’t mind this one bit, it is fun and takes all day to eat, un-wrap gifts, play games and clear up before collapsing into a chair with a bottle of Port.

This year my eldest daughter & fiancé are off to his family, the youngest is half working, half at the boyfriends family, my parents are hosting my sister and nieces so we were going to be home alone with the possibility of the in-laws turning up for lunch.  In fact I was squealing inside with glee at the thought of a quiet Christmas with just hubby, lying in bed forever playing hunt the toy soldiers.

As it is, there could be 4 of us at the table on the big day, but the fridge wants to know why it's holding enough for 40.  I have yet to tell it that by New Years Day we may just have gone through that many.

I want to get to Christmas Eve and be baking miniature madeleines in the morning, painting my nails by lunchtime and dancing a waltz with the one I love by candlelight at 11pm whilst the turkey cooks itself.

No chance.

Due to the fact some family members have already started the wind down and are at a loose end (so they believe you are too) I found myself at 10pm last night wrapping everything I had hoped to have under the tree a week ago, hunting for hidden gifts until I acknowledged they actually hadn't turned up yet, discovering broken ones and realising I had to make an early morning dash to exchange that before work and finally sitting down at 11pm before someone announces “I’m off to bed, don’t be too long…” ….eh???

I end up dreaming of running naked with my phone clamped around my head through British Homes Stores at 8.30am with armfuls of 5p bags covering modesty.

As for venturing onto the roads, I could have dedicated a whole TV show with some of the parking shenanigans witnessed in the last week.  Anyone who was caught up in the 6 hrs it took to exit Bluewater on Monday, 21 December - you had my deepest sympathy.

This baby supposedly born 2015 years ago in a stable has a lot to answer for.  As for those 3 wise men, do me a favour – it was their idea on the gift thing.  How did we get in this hilarious muddle? What did everyone do before this madness?   Well if you really want to know pull up a chair and the tipple of choice to watch this 45 minute documentary, it's eye-opening and covers the whole thing (but come back here for my jig at the end):

"In late December do not let your children and servants run too much abroad at night!"
Families, friends and Christmas are what it's all about even if it does bring out the worst and the best of us.  What do we owe to friends and families?  We owe them our time, love, patience and smiles for that day if nothing else.  Be kind to each other, even if at some point you do feel like burying that one person alive.  Let your heart sing to whatever makes you happy at this time of year.
So on my last day of work before I start getting my head into the freezer contents, at 5pm in the office I'll be raving along to this song, the lyrics say it all.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas (whatever...).
"Been doing this song a long time and the longer I do it the better it gets...I'm just getting started".

Friday, 11 December 2015


This is the story of a piece of Art.

On 13 September 2015 whilst I was soaking up rays by the pool of The Wyndham International Drive, Orlando, I received an IM from my friend Henna Khan in Mumbai founder of @UnivSimplified regarding a competition she was promoting for lunar and space exploration.   Henna remembered my rocket launch drawings and asked if I would like to enter.  I remember vaguely looking at The Lunar Initiatives Flash Art Competition website at the time but in bright sunshine on an iPhone the text and details were hard to see.

I didn't actually respond to Henna until the following day due to intermittent Wi-Fi, but said I would try to find some time on my return after 29 September.

In fact, by the pool I had already begun to think about the possibilities for composition.

So much goes on in my mind before starting a piece of Art, particularly in this case as I wasn't going to be drawing something I had seen or was in front of me, it would be more conceptual than actual.  It takes time and patience to let creative stuff flow and more often than not most of that happens as it evolves from thought to paper and conclusion.

After 3 weeks in the US, life is never easy when you help run a family business, there was huge amounts of catch up work to do and I didn't actually draw breath and start sitting at the drawing board until 10 October.

This was my tweet around the start:

As you can see there was a variety of post it notes on the board. This is how I started, building a theme, a storyline of the Art before pen even touched paper.  I decided straight away that art pens not graphite would be used.

Some questions I asked myself: Where are we going, what are we doing, how are we doing it, what are we missing? How do we change that?
The Post it Archive

For the next 3 weeks on my non-working days, I added content to the drawing based on my answers.  Rockets I could draw, have drawn and continue to draw. Lunar landscapes?  Never.  Time to start.  It transpired that my choices worked out better than imagined, a landscape caught on camera on my birthday in 1972 by the last human crew to land on the Moon became a focal point for celebrating.

I follow satellite passes quite a bit and one had caught my eye on several occasions, a real live experimental space habitat in orbit.  From the small icon on my iPhone tracking app I could gauge the shape, but had to research further for more detail.

Remembering the iconic photo of Buzz Aldrin taken by Neil Armstrong on Apollo 11 with Neil's reflection in the visor, I took that vision and extended it further with a different reflection, one that we are all familiar with.  The pale blue dot we call home..Earth.

Because of my love of retro, the drawing had to go back as well as forward in time, a current theme was also a requirement. I finished the artwork 2 days before the deadline for submission to the Art Challenge.  Curious as to how long it had exactly been since Apollo 17 had landed on the Moon, I looked this up and translated the years, months and days into hours, minutes and seconds that it had taken me to complete.  To reflect that, this was the next tweet:

Now and then in between the start and finish time, I had also given very subtle hints within most of my tweets as to the drawing content, it was a little fun which just added sparkle to the story and a few people began to pick up on it.  There were loads of tweet hints to be honest!
I detest photographing my art because of compression rates but this had to be done for submitting a JPEG of the artwork. Thankfully the next day was dry, sunny and windless. I took the drawing outside on an easel, pegged straight and snapped a few times. The result was uploaded later that day and locked into my Flickr account as private. I felt that as the competition had not quite ended, it would be unfair to others and myself to broadcast an entry before anyone else had submitted to the deadline, which as it happened ended up being extended from 30 October to 30 November!

During this time following my submission, I discovered part of my decision to include a space habitat into the Artwork was more than just the final interest in the anti-clockwise view I had envisaged. This experimental 'hab' in an updated form is to be launched aboard Space X's Dragon CRS-8 re-supply mission in early 2016 for testing and attachment to the International Space Station, something I shall follow.  The company that built this test habitat is at the forefront of habitable space structures.  On 8 December following months of bad weather in the UK, I finally had a clear sky that enabled me to capture Genesis I with my DSLR, crossing my sky at 17.47 GMT.

I had already decided exactly when to release the drawing for general viewing and pinned that tweet to the top of my timeline:

It followed days of complete madness on twitter over the Paris attacks. Sometimes the internet brings out the worst in people.

So today, being the 43rd anniversary of Apollo 17 landing on the moon brings me to the end of this Art story. It was quite a journey and a big turning point for me in terms of belief. Every time I start a major drawing there is a little fear of my own capabilities, it doesn't last long, fading within a few minutes. I don't think I shall ever be afraid of myself ever again.

The link to the Flickr submission for the competition is here. We were only given 1000 words to describe the work, hence this post on my blog to expand the story. I hope you enjoy seeing this as much as I enjoyed drawing it, every dot on the paper taught me further patience with myself, the world and humanity.

Of the Moon I speak
In regolith tone
Rising, falling
Through the ink of space
We've run this race
Planning, drawing
It's time we left home
To share what we seek


Friday, 27 November 2015


The Rest of the Day

After the sunrise walk with Dr Lucy and a 2nd breakfast (the full English Monty) I had a gap several hours before the afternoon lecture and discovered through chatting with other group members that there were two free entry workshops taking place at 11am.  So I headed along to the first one, an exhibition space run by Oliver Lang on mobile photography.  This included a detailed look at water microbes subjected to a laserbeam of light under a microscope that were then projected onto a wall, making viewing easier.  Also within the space was a projected light beam appearing to split the visible light spectrum and a display of light and colour with polarising filters entitled 'In/Visibility' by Vinita Khanna. In all the effects of this mobile exhibition space were quite astounding.  Please follow my numerous orange hyperlinks if you wish to find out more about each subject, but remember to come back here!

Water microbes laser light projection

In/Visibility by Vinita Khanna
  I met and chatted with a visitor here too
that had to be the most appropriately dressed guy
for not only the event but also the weather! Sadly Antonio has
Since removed his photo which is a shame as he looked great!

A photo posted by Antonio Cabrera (@antonio_cabreraseville) on
Oliver Lang has since put up a short instagram video of the mobile space.

A short walk along the corridor and I found the Ultraviolet Art workshop with Labern & Lloyd of The Drawing Shed.  Inside there was a range of very old-fashioned typewriters fitted with UV ribbon and a number of people were seated getting creative with the typewriters, black light torches and UV pens. Obviously I had to have a go at this!  My result was I'm afraid very sparkly: 
Twinkle's contribution to the UV Art workshop

To one side of the typewriter area was a large blackboard covered with a variety of drawings and equations fronted by two men talking animatedly to those seated informally on leather cubes and bean bags.   What a great hangout!

This was a very cool area where Q&A and general discussions on light, dark matter, dark energy and the cosmos was taking place to a captive audience. I sat here whilst Toby Shannon from The Institute of Physics relayed his knowledge on light, debated why blue LEDs should win the Nobel Prize as we all got very heavy duty with the cosmology questions for the scientists and they in turn gave us answers on the concept of 'nothingness'.

It was in this room that I first noticed a subtle, sometimes sub-conscious thing happening when the organisers and speakers were talking.

One of many wall messages viewable
with a Black Light torch
Labern & Lloyd artwork display
This thing was very visual in it's subtlety and in fact Toby Shannon actually described it in the same manner that I have always imagined it to be, he stated:

Dark matter could be viewed as if it were a piece of foam, with all the bubbles holding the galaxies, stars etc and the foam itself being the tendrils of dark matter connecting everything around it.

Mind map! Shocking to discover you're on the same wavelength as someone with much more education behind them.

Although not part of the exhibition, I am including below a black and white picture of a piece of foam I have at home, the type used to transport say a hard drive in the mail (two pieces fitting together forming a rectangle).  For a sense of perspective, this object measures 1.375 x 5.5 x 12.375 inches.  I'll ask you to come back to this foam picture later on.

Piece of foam on my kitchen worktop
After the engaging discussions with the Institute of Physics scientists, I headed outside to grab some lunch and air near the Christmas market in front of the Tate and here sampled some hot non-alcoholic Gluhwein, which was just as tasty as the alcoholic version.   The sun was out dancing between racing clouds, lots of people were walking along the river, shopping in the market or huddling beside hot food counters.  Just before entering the Starr Auditorium for the afternoon event, I purchased a couple of books from the Tate shop as stocking fillers for Christmas.

Although the auditorium filled quickly, I was able to obtain a seat to the left with a clear view of the panel just 4 rows from the front.  Asif Khan opened the proceedings with a short quote from Tanizaki's 'In Praise of Shadows' essentially an essay written in the 1930s comparing light and darkness to contrast Western and Asian cultures.  A candle was lit on the panel table with the 'scent' of space, one of Katie Paterson's creations.

The panelists Catherine Heymans, Katie Paterson and Dr Marek Kukula each gave a brief resume of themselves and their field of work and study before taking questions from the audience.
As an artist Katie Paterson draws inspiration from light and visible matter around her, but is also intrigued by the visual expressions possible from the invisible such as dark matter and dark energy, because I also engage in art this was perfectly understood.  Dr Marek Kukula explained that we don't as yet fully understand dark matter but we create images of beauty to describe it, this may be the result of not yet having the words to describe it hence the artistic connection.

In 2012 Catherine Heymans and Van Waerbeke led an international team of astronomers that mapped the largest ever scale of dark matter to date.  The ongoing project is the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Lensing Survey (CFHTLenS). 

Catherine Heymans referred to this image of dark filaments in the Tate lecture,
this was when I mentally made my connection to the foam.
A computer simulation of dark matter filaments

This mental connection was further reinforced when Dr Marek Kukula talked about the image below

Webs of dark matter, from Dark Universe part of
the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium show
Back to that foam...I've always struggled with understanding and visualising Einstein's Theory of Relativity and comfortingly, I learn't this week on the 100th anniversary of that theory, he too struggled to describe it!

To date my own view has been based on that piece of foam with the 'whole piece' existing in the same moment in time across all sides.  A person standing in one part of the foam sees an event say in the middle, another person on the other side sees the same event but possibly the event is seen to them at a different point in time due to disproportionate distance.  But..the event happens in one moment (a unit of time) and is then gone.  This is how I understand the phrase 'everything happening in the now' and why 'time' cannot go backwards, only forwards for everyone, no matter where they are in the universe.  In just a few minutes, the quantity of dark matter particles that pass through a fingernail is in the billions.  Think of how much then there is between you and the computer keyboard, the computer and your window, your window and the outside world.  It's almost like a never ending reflection in a mirror but instead of getting smaller, the particle quantity is growing.

Asif Khan showed the audience a relatively new substance in a round sealed plastic container able to conduct heat, block light particles and not reflect them.  The substance is called Vantablack and although I had heard of it, I had never seen it up close, something he gave us the opportunity to do after the talks. After asking the question, I was intrigued to discover the shape of the particles were like hexagonal nanotubes, neatly fitting together to form a shape so tightly packed that light cannot get through. Applications for this substance could be camera equipment and telescopes to name a few.  When drawing with graphic pens I've often been frustrated by not being able to achieve a complete black block of colour, maybe one day pens will be made of this stuff too!

The Panelists
By the time all the questions had been answered in the audience and the lecture was over, I was beginning to feel the effects of rising at 4.00am with very little sleep beforehand. 

Needing coffee badly I said goodbye to the people I had met along the way this day and headed for my car back through Borough Market to St Thomas's Street. 

Just before going underground to the car I caught sight of the Moon just escaping the clutches of The Shard.

All round this was a very entertaining day out and I really hope that Tate Modern do more of this collaboration with science again.

I hope this has given a small taste of Light and Dark Matters to the reader who might be encouraged to research further.

I make no apologies here for incorrectly theorising anything, that is the freedom of personal thought.  Where possible I have tried to link, embed and credit those involved with this wonderful day.

With the greatest thanks to Tate Modern and The Institute of Physics.