Sunday, 26 July 2009

honey, I'm home

Well, where to start?

I've had 8 hours sleep since Thursday night. My attention span is not at its lengthiest. Please bear with me.

Last time I went to Port Eliot, it was a literary festival and I went alone, yes, alone. I don't know what came over me. I saw the festival advertised somewhere and wanted to see the Tom Hodgkinson who wrote 'How to be free'. I had no expectations and had a fantastic, if solitary time.

This year, I had great company, my neighbour, K, whose sister, K, lives with her husband and family just up the road from the festival. We had a blast, arriving to the amusement of the doorcheck people, Peronis and pretzels in hand.

K is a DofE graduate so, usefully, put my tent up. I arranged the bottle of fizz and the picnic basket. My tent neighbours were a little sniffy about my wheely suitcase and K usefully pointed out that wheely suitcases are, apparently, one of the top ten things NOT to take to a festival. In my defence it doubled up as a table.

After lobster on the lawn, accompanied by a ukulele band, we mooched to the cabaret tent to catch the last of the most dreadful stand up I think I've ever seen. I don't even want to think about it. Perhaps it was me. We were really waiting for the lovely Evan Dando and he turned up just after ten. He played a great set but scuppered my desire to see whether he'd become even more lovely than I think I remember he was. Unfortunately I had a very good view of his fringe and the top of his head, with the lighting reflecting off his guitar, putting his face into deep shade. He played a good set despite the dodgy electrics and eventually gave everyone what they want and did 'It's a shame about Ray'. He then shuffled off the stage a little uncermoniously but the DJ cranked up and all was well.

K, K & P went home so I made the effort to dance for a bit. I think I'm a little strange as I really do quite enjoy dancing on my own. Mind you, I like shopping on my own too. And going to the cinema on my own. Fortunately, this does not extend to drinking on my own.

I had a little optical difficulty finding the tent but eventually squished myself onto my self-inflating mattress (not very thick) and wriggled into the sleeping bag (not very long). I slept. Just. I woke up concertinaed into the slope we'd pitched the tent onto as expected.

I had the most expensive cup of tea I've ever had: £15.99 for the stove, £2.35 for the butane canister makes a total of £18.34. Bargain! There was a tricky moment when the stove wouldn't light but I got the hang of it eventually.

Camping is just, so, well, horizontal. I really don't think a person of my stature and age should wriggle on the floor while getting dressed. I need to be able to see what I've put on and adjust accordingly. I was envious all weekend of the effortless dressing of almost every other person at the festival. How do these people make it look, well, so gorgeous? I could do several posts on the fabulousness of the outfits I witnessed although there were some 'try to hard, look at me, I'm at a festival' outfits but that's OK. If you can't look a bit of twerp in a field at the beginning of the summer holidays, when can you?

Saturday was a fantastic day - sunny, chilled, great speakers. I met dovegreyreader and said hi. I was thrilled to be quoted in her talk and her snippets from school reports were very entertaining. I wanted to get my crochet out and have a proper sit down and a natter but it didn't work out that way this time. Maybe sometime else.

Jung Chang was just amazing. I was dying to ask where her skirt was made in the Q&A but I suspect that might have seemed shallow. I tripped over her when exiting Rosie Boycott's Q&A on the way back down to find K, K & P. Not very elegant but I was wearing my favourite maxi-dress. I think I should have opted for shoes, not flip-flops. Floor length dresses and flip-flops are quite a health and safety hazard.

Saturday night, we danced at 'the shitty little disco'. I can't even begin to explain that one and ate nuts and mini-poppadoms on the hill overlooking the house. We caught the last five minutes of Edwyn Collins, all of Louis Eliot and the fantastic Magic Numbers who get my vote for 'most entertaining' band of the festival. Lots of jumpy, arm-waving dancing - just up my street.

K&P went home to the babysitter and K & I sought out British Sea Power and a chicken fajita by the boathouse. After a couple of hours dancing (K looked amazing in her vintage 60s, pucci-style dress) we called it a night.

In bed by 3 and 5 hours later, I was back up walking back to the festival to load up the car and drive home. It was raining and it was time to get back to our nearest and dearest. The thought of soggy festival going with a slight prospect of a small headache and a 3 and a half hour drive was not a pleasant one. Sometimes you just need to know when to leave the party!

So...that was the weekend. There will be photos but not until I get back from my next trip.

See you Friday.

Friday, 24 July 2009

festival fever

tent - tick
magic self-inflating mattress - tick
sunnies - tick
pashmina - tick
stove - tick
kettle - tick

book to read
book to write in
wellies (have hole in - should I risk it?)

I am so looking forward to my literary break. I went to Port Eliot a couple of years ago and had a great time. There's no reason to think this one won't beat that. A bigger line up, live bands and the programme looks fantastic. I'll try to blog but it's unlikely. I'm certainly not going to twitter as I can't work out how to do anything than tweet from my laptop. I haven't got the brain capacity to work out mobile tweeting and pack at the same time.


Having had wonderful treatments and a whole day of R&R, I developed a searing headache last night. I took double-dose paracetomol and tripped off to my friend J's house for a spot of end-of-term houmous dipping and wine sipping. Said head was so severe I started with a lime and sparkling water concoction. Wasn't sure about that but by the time I reached the bottom of the glass I was feeling much perkier.

It must have been the toxins. Apparently we're all full of them. I read about 54 magazines yesterday (I know, I exaggerate, sorry) and I now feel compelled to avoid sugar, salt, cake, wine, fruit juice (too much sugar) and Paris Hilton. If I followed these instructions, I would also avoid fun and enjoyment and my tastebuds would shrivel and hate me for ever.

I also read an article about a gym, apparently frequented by Hugh Grant which charges 'committed clients' (I think they may have to be) £100 per hour for their advice and admonishments. Apart from the prospect of pairing up for pilates with the Grant, what could they possibly be offering? I'm no fitness guru but I do think a fair bit can be achieved with a concerted effort on the exercise front and slightly fewer hobnobs. I really think that all the pseudo-scientificating of food and our physical appearance just turns us all off and makes us all think that we can't do anything without expert assistance.

I'm convinced there's a gap in the market for 'common-sense coaches' but I think that may be a symptom of my 40-plus-ness. I have decided to start a piggy bank for potential botox and fillers as my constantly raised arches are going to make an unsightly ridge across my forehead and will quite likely require non-invasive surgical procedures in the near future.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

spa wars

I have had my day of pampering luxury at Calcot Spa today. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

breathe in, breathe out

It's not cold enough for a photo of my breath. I learnt a new breathing technique in bodybalance this week. Breathe in for four, breathe out for seven. It's surprisingly calming if a little light-headed-making if pursued for more than a couple of minutes.

I am gripped in the throes of temperature anxiety. I know, I am lurching from one minor crisis to another. You don't need to tell me!

Anyway...along with every other mother in our corner of North Wiltshire, I am making regular visits to our local pharmacies in search of a thermometer. I bought a thermometer each time I gave birth (well, afterwards). Neither the pop in the mouth or the stick on the head version worked. They gathered dust with my hardskin remover at the bottom of the bathroom cabinet for years. I have to admit that I've always used the back of the neck feel approach, or asked various friends, neighbours and family whether the kids 'looked a bit sweaty'. Not very scientific, and not very useful.

I couldn't buy a thermometer in Lloyds or the two Boots stores we have in our locality. I have bought, however, enough paracetomol and ibuprofen to last us all the summer and I've stocked up on vitamins - immunity and memory-promoting for the kids; a skin, hair and nails combination for me (who cares if I get swine flu, at least I'll have active follicles).

Amidst all this flippant jollity, however, I do have a sore throat and feel a bit tired. I had to resort to Paul McKenna's relaxation session that I keep on my ipod to get to sleep last night. I have never actually got to the end of the words awake so I'm probably being mindfully controlled by proxy as I write. I call it 'relaxation' on the ipod but it's actually his weight loss mind-control-words. Whenever I listen to it, I can't quite face my breakfast and white bread looks a little suspect. As I said, I'm usually asleep faster than you can say fondant fancy so I wouldn't really know what he's telling me.

I've finished my day job for the week and am booked in for my long-awaited spa day tomorrow. Can't wait although I will have to do some pre-spa preparations tonight. I have been walking up and down the garden to the chickens in my mock-crocs and my feet are not at their most beautiful.

Will be back after my festival shenanigans. Have fun.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

almost as promised...


Photos of my handiwork, some anti-raincloud crochet (I promised knitting).

As for the rest of my list, all things have been attempted and some matters have been achieved. Mostly, I have been making progress on all fronts but completing nothing. I have been dodging rain showers and trying to think through a particularly tricky issue which no-one else can help me with.

I am not good with big decisions. I have a tendency to overthink. Hence the dedication to my crochet - it helps on a meditative basis. As discussed in a previous post, my Libran nature compels me to see almost everything from almost every angle.

I can reduce myself to a catatonic state by thinking through any large to medium issue that is going on around me.

I am not sure I'll sleep tonight. At least my crochet will grow.

Friday, 17 July 2009

weekend list

To do in the next 48 hours....

- not eat fish & chips (one of the suspected contributors to my 2lb weekly weight fluctuation)
- exercise tonight and tomorrow
- retain a sunny disposition despite imminent drizzly wetness
- do a little knitty photography
- pack for Port Eliot
- pack for Isle of Wight
- make a food pack for Port Eliot
- make a food pack for Isle of Wight
- make a craft pack for Port Eliot
- make a craft pack for Isle of Wight
- remove all items from my skip (sorry car) and scrub its exterior till it shines (showers permitting)
- sort out craft supplies to swerve E from summer 'Claire's Accessories' desires
- do something about the weird smell in the living room (I think it's the new lightbulb but there may be another, more unpleasant reason)
- dance about the kitchen and sort out my itunes (we have all our itunes on the old computer which needs to be stripped of said files before, hopefully, getting turned into something recycled)
- eat some of our beautiful yellow courgettes before they swell to mammoth proportions
- clip the chickens' wings (rather, get a neighbour to clip chickens' wings)
- find the eggs that I suspect the chickens are laying in inappropriate places around the garden

So...not much, then. We have no trips planned, no activities (apart from the relentless football)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

barley there

We live in an old pub. Old as in former and old as in, well, old - 1840, I think. We should grow hops or, indeed, barley but we don't. We grow apples and plums and blackcurrants and vegetables in general, but not beer making supplies.

I was drawn to the swathes of barley at Eden. I suspect they do something clever and organic with theirs. It was very beautiful in the way it made a frothy ribbon through the veggie section.

We have just taken delivery of our cider from a local farmer which offers apple pressing and cider making services to its local communities. The cider's OK and we tested it quite thoroughly on Saturday but it just doesn't taste like cider I've ever drunk before. It's more like wine, which is decidedly weird.

When it gets cooler, I'm going to make warm cider punch with it and see how that goes. I think it might be tastier. It's quite groovy though, having our own cider. Kind of Hugh-Furry-Knittingstall-ish. Next...chutney.

Monday, 13 July 2009

dappled shade...

I am a Libran. This, I believe, explains my pathological need to see both sides of every story, to see the light and shade in every situation, to tip the negative into the positive and to look for the good in the bad. This is not to say that I have a happy-go-lucky nature, that I am continually smiley and jolly. I am not. I complain and moan and rant and rave. Again, part of my Libran charm is the ability to be enjoying myself on the inside but behaving like a proper stroppy mare on the outside. It's a gift.

It could be the fact that I'm a northern Libran. One of the uppermost lessons I learned during my childhood was

"Do not show off. Ever."

Whatever I did as a child was clouded by this instruction. Any shy attempt at show and tell at home was greeted with "That's nice. Don't show off."

I am convinced that if there'd been such a thing as 'Britain's Got Talent' in my youth, my parents would have stood in the wings complaining about my 'showing off'.

Perhaps this was all a plan to keep us all grounded, down to earth, the same as everyone else. Who knows? Again, I can see both sides of the argument. It was quite confusing though to be encouraged to succeed and then, when that happened, to be told to hide that success.

The 'don't show off' philosophy contrasts greatly with our modern parental instinct to praise our children from their first burp to their university graduation. J & E have been given certificates for turning up, for improving, for being helpful. I'm all for positive reflection but it's a dreadful waste of paper. Isn't there an argument for children to be encouraged to be their own judge, to self-reflect, to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. I worry sometimes that, eventually, we will have a generation of adults who won't be able to go to work and come back again without someone giving them a badge or a lolly.

I'm not sure why I'm feeling so philosophical today. I suppose I haven't done much in the way of bloggable activity. I've knitted a bit (bunting, if you must know), written a bit, emailed a bit, worked a bit. Perhaps I'm subconsciously gearing up for a bit of action. I need to move on to the next thing, make some progress, shake things up a little.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

a tidy mind... what I wish for.

It is the eve of week 8 of projectforty. I have 10 working days until I trip off to Port Eliot for a weekend of literary and musical entertainment. I have much to do before then.

In fact, I have so many different things that I must do before I fill up my little car's tank and trip off to Cornwall, my head feels like my embroidery skein box - shaken and stirred despite my careful re-organisation last week.

No matter. I have been here before. I'll just do the things I need to and hope I don't miss anything vitally important.

On the projectforty front. I am continuing with my lose 2lbs, gain 2lbs pattern. I do feel pretty good though. I have slimmed down a little and my self-critical eye can see that I look much better, if not that much thinner. I am exercising almost every day. Sometimes for an hour or so, othertimes just for twenty minutes and, to be honest, the fact that I'm exercising just makes me feel good. It makes me feel almost good enough not to care that my BMI is probably just going to hover about where it is - and no, I'm not going to tell you. You'll just have to take my word for it.

It all becomes very superficial though. I've got to the point where I can see that I've changed parts of my body slightly and my mind now understand that this is a possibility. I have finally made the link between cause and effect in relation to my body. Something that has eluded me my entire adult life. There's something a bit psycho-babblish going on in my head but I don't really want to start examining my relationship with food, or my body for that matter. There's enough going on. I really don't need another layer of self-analysis. I just like those endorphins or whatever chemical is released when I sweat and turn my head purple.

I'm a simple girl. All I need is a Davina DVD, a set of weights and my rebounder thingy. Perhaps I should invest in some leg warmers.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

one small step for writing kind....

I have done it. I can now call myself a writer. One of my ideas has only gone and found itself in a magazine. Not only that, my idea has found its way onto page 11 of 'Let's Knit' magazine. Knitting and writing. Writing and knitting. A divine combination.

More tomorrow. Am just having a pitstop at home before going back to school for the end of term performance of 'Grease'. Break a leg!

Monday, 6 July 2009

2 short days of small discovery

I discovered several things this weekend...

I can only remember so many things when packing, my embroidery spent two days on the kitchen table, abandoned...

Some beautiful flowers and planting at the Eden project...

One of the best gig settings I've ever been to...

I do have the ability to dance whilst waving my hands in the air (thank you, Kasabian)...

I enjoy seeing my kids enjoy what I enjoy...

I like to knit on the beach...

I do not need to match my family's appetite for ice-cream at every turn...

I also discovered why 'projectforty 2009' is not the greatest success on the weight loss front - weekends.

Every week, between Monday and Friday, I lose 2lbs. Every Saturday and Sunday, I put on 2lbs. There is some kind of karmic logic in this but it is now, officially, getting on my nerves. We do not have a great deal of weekend activity for the next two weeks. There are no big parties, no long road trips. We do have some fun planned but it is probably fun that can be carefully and moderately enjoyed. This is my final chance to make some proper weight-loss. Otherwise, it is literally, 2 steps forward and 2 steps back.

After our epic trip to Cornwall, a little vegetative TV watching was in order last night. I confess I watched Project Runway (new series, hurrah!), Ugly Betty (not fascinating, but OK) and Wife Swap (predictable). I know this is likely to alienate some of my more erudite and cultured readers but, hey, there you go, my dirty little secret is out in the open.

Anyway...punctuating my tellyfest were a couple of adverts that I couldn't quite comprehend.

The first for pcworld showed a hovering laptop and a voiceover telling me that 'our world is our children' blah, blah, blah. The upshot of this was the message that if you spent £349 per child, buying said child a laptop, you could then, as parents enjoy more quality time sat in front of the telly. Now, I don't mean to be an old stick in the mud but if 'your world is your children', wouldn't it be preferable to spend some time with them rather than parking them in front of a screen just so that you could park yourself in front of a different screen? I'm all for a little me-time but have we all become so selfish and anti-social that we're prepared to buy our nearest and dearest little boxes so that we can have our own little box to ourselves?

The second was for Radox - intimating that having a bath or, indeed a shower, was some kind of release from family life, that we women who may or may not be mothers or may or may not be wives should absolve ourselves from our daily routine to indulge ourselves in a bath, or, if time-pressed, a shower. Has washing, combined with a little unauthorised soaking now become some sort of spa substitute, a holiday at home. Is that all it takes? I would have thought that the recession would have given all sorts of companies the excuse to get rid of marketeers and ad execs who still think that all the 'little woman' needs is a few bubbles and a couple of candles on the windowsill to have a good time and 'recharge her batteries'. It seems not.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

perennial, prefers shade

If I were a plant label, it would read as above.
I am long-lasting and have a great deal of stamina but only in temperatures below 22 degrees centigrade, if not a little cooler.
My school week is over, bar attending a Local Area Board meeting this evening. I am intrigued to see who attends. Local Area Boards are new political entities and I hope this evening's happenings will clarify some of their role. I have to know about all this for my day job. I wish I felt I knew as much about my day job as I know I know about knitting or stitching, or anything else for that matter.
You may have noticed the blog has had a little revamp. I love my 'inspiration blogs', not only because they're inspirational but they're now all a click away. I am a repetitive blog-reader, pootling around a well-worn blog-track every day. My wanderings are quite limited but, I think, they combine my interests with a huge dose of quality writing, too.
From my window I can see just-about-bursting lavender and a swathe of monkshood (aconitum?) behind, framed by the waxy green of virginia creeper. Our drive narrows as the summer holidays approach, partly because neither of us are great hedge cutters but partly because the lavender stretches out it's stems across the driveway. It's great to drive past it with the windows open. I like to think my little Punto spreads a little lavender perfume wherever it goes!
We are taking the kids to see Kasabian at the Eden Project this weekend. I am trying to be calm about packing and about driving. The last time we went to the Eden Project was in November and, surprisingly, midweek, it was very quiet. This time I think it may be slightly busier with more piercings.
There are articles-a-go-go about holidaying at home this year and, although I agree with the sentiments, I'm not sure my carbon footprint would be reduced much by sitting in a traffic jam on a beach-bound 'A' road. We are off to Turkey. I can tell you no more as I have decided to absolve all responsibility and interest in the location, the hotel, what it will be like. I am merely going to pack sunscreen and books.