Sunday, 30 December 2012

queue Annie Lennox...

...here comes the rain again.

I have been watching the weather from my standard inert position - the sofa in our kitchen - for the last couple of days.  The sun is trying to do its job today but the rain still comes. 

We had a sociable Christmas - lots of family, lots of food, lots of games (sober and, hic, otherwise).  It was all very festive and jolly.  The turkey was delicious and the ham made the best carbonara as well as doing its duty on Christmas Eve.

We have, I suspect, though become the laziest family in Wiltshire, if not the South West.

E & I managed to take ourselves to Swindon's Orbital yesterday - a mammoth shopping centre where you could live quite happily if you happened to be there when Armageddon struck - there is a gargantuan Asda, a massive New Look, a serviceable M&S, a Boots, a Next and a Homebase. 

M&S looked as if retail locusts had ransacked the joint.  Nothing to buy but some sad looking prints and some scary gold Christmas cards.  I think I managed to persuade E that sales are just full of stuff that nobody wants anymore.   I had some items to return but will wait for a while to use my gift receipts.

The Worker took J out for their traditional Christmas football outing.  I think they had a good day but the football wasn't up to scratch.

We all seem to be much happier loafing about in our various elasticated waisted clothing.

I am just about getting to the point where my own personal inertia is starting to grate and I can feel lists and recycling and shredding coming on.

I've got some good stuff to look forward to right at the beginning of 2013 - a trip oop North in the next week or so and a college study trip to Krakow at the end of the month.  There's also the small matter of a tax return and a group exhibition to prepare for. 

It's time to get off the sofa.



Monday, 17 December 2012

my other home....


...is a studio space at Swindon College. 

I had an assignment deadline today.  Studio Practice 3.  This counts.  For those of you who don't know I dropped out of college the first time around for reasons I don't want to revisit.  I was a fairly useless young adult.  I started off OK and then when it came to A levels and leaving home I really didn't make very good decisions.

I've written here before about my recurring college nightmare of going back and failing / leaving again.  I've stopped having those dreams thank goodness.  My final year is proving to be a challenge.  I'm working part-time, family life seems to be getting busier, the Worker seems to be having to work ever harder.  It's not an easy run.  Sometimes I wish I'd just stuck at my course the first time around but then I wouldn't be having this opportunity now.  How many other ladies of a fortyish age get to spend at least part of their week contemplating their artistic practice? 

I do feel lucky to be able to do this and I hope my Dad would have been impressed that I finally got to go back and (with the wind behind me) get a degree. 

Already people are asking what I'm going to do with it?  One of our modules at college is 'professional practice'.  The answer is, I don't know.  I think if I were younger without a family, I'd be heading off like every other aspiring artist to London or Paris or New York.  I'm not.  In fact, I almost don't want to know what I'm going to do.  What I think I will have gained from these three years is the confidence to do things I would never have done before.  So far I've completed a residency and exhibited in brand new venue.  I know that if I want to pursue a career as a practising artist, it's really up to me.

I think it will be interesting as an older artist, and one based outside London.  I do feel that I can do anything.  I don't feel constrained by trends or the 'nowness' of things as much as if I would, perhaps, if I was younger. 

So, today I finished the first of the assignments of my final year.

Tonight - the annual Zumba Christmas party...a little different but just as enjoyable!

Friday, 14 December 2012

nigel(la)

The Christmas culinary countdown has begun.  I have spent a happy hour this evening enjoying the delights of Ms Lawson and Mr Slater. 

As predicted Nigella was on her best innuendo-laden, luscious housewife form with oodles of this and swirlings of that and a set bedecked in hues of vermillion and gold.

Nigel, on the other hand, was in his minimalist abode (I still think his kitchen looks like it's in a greenhouse), making nut roast and choosing a tree for Trafalgar Square - how did the Beeb get that to happen?

He did make a delicious looking lamb casserole with prunes which looked suitably rich and stew-ey.  I think there were biscuits too.

I was particularly taken with Nigella's spicy popcorn too.  Something to try perhaps.

J  & E groaned with despair at the prospect of a couple of cookery programmes but I hope to re-ignite an interest in cooking, particularly for J who has endured two years of incessant pies and various forms of bechamel sauce as part of his home economics GCSE.  I have great admiration for him as the main thrust of the course seems to have been 'evaluating' rather than enjoying anything to do with flavour, preparation or taste.  When I've met his teacher, I've been impressed - I assume it must be the course itself that seems to want to reduce any interest in cooking to a set of bullet points.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas List II

I made the mistake of sofa slumping in front of the delicious Lorraine Pascale on BBC2 last night.  Apparently I need to add hibiscus flowers in syrup to my list of Christmas must-haves.

These are delicious, so LP says, as an alternative to cassis in sparkling wine before Christmas lunch.  I had to google them and such things retail for £9.99 a jar!  I think I'll stump up for proper fizz instead.

They did look pretty though...

I did wonder about her strategy for making sure the turkey didn't dry out.  This involved placing 2 bags of frozen peas on top of the breast whilst the rest of it was coming to room temperature.  Does anyone have room in their freezer for two massive bags of superfluous frozen peas at this time of year?  I think not.  A doomed strategy if I ever I heard one.  What happened to a bit of foil? 

She did, however, reignite my desire for one of those fat separator things that has a spout and divides all the turkey loveliness from the turkey fattiness.  I loathe that part of cooking where you have to do complicated things with the roasting tray.  I had one a couple of years ago but it didn't like the dishwasher and the spout made everyone cross at washing up time.  Lakeland have them on sale for £4.99.  I do know how to treat myself!

The Beeb cunningly dropped in adverts for Nigella's festive innuendo hour and a master bake-off with telly's culinary odd couple Berry (she even has a festive name) and steely-eyed Paul.  That's my Christmas wrapping time sorted then.  Yum.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Christmas list

Well, I gather from the lack of response to my CB rant that my political commentary doesn't go down that well.  Perhaps it's a Christmas thing.

I'm so over GO and his autumn statement and my New Year's resolution is to spend the time I usually spend shouting at Bruce/Gompertz/Peston et al on something more enjoyable instead.  Half an hour in bed, reading more than a word before I fall asleep is how I'm envisaging January evenings.

I am in the midst of assessment 'doings'.  My studies have been somewhat fragmented and dislocated since we started back at the end of September.  I have, however, had an exhibition to which lots of people came and of which lots of nice things were said.  Unfortunately, my artistic practice underwent something of a schism and I now find myself with a variety of 'work', none of which seems to hang together in what my tutors call 'a body of work'.

Besides my studies, there is the small matter of Christmas to be getting on with.  Based on the snatched conversations I have had with those I know of a female persuasion and the faces I've seen in my recent supermarket visits, I don't get the sense that Christmas 2012 is really being entered into with a sense of joy and excitement.

Perhaps it is because I'm getting older and, therefore, so is my peer group.  There are those of us who did everything in February although don't admit it and sigh and eye-roll with the rest of us when we realise that we have several things to do:
- write the cards (sometimes make the cards)
- arrange a 0% credit card to pay for the stamps
- clean the house
- arrange for an obscene amount of food and beverages to arrive at the right time, hopefully avoiding any trip to the shops after 21st December
- buy charming and thoughtful presents that don't look as if they came from a 3 for 2 offer or were bought with Nectar points
- decorate the house with delightful gewgaws that have the right balance of quirky tackiness and vintage/retro/chic/scandinavian charm
- adopt the demeanour of a person who delights in all such matters
- start drinking sherry and/or amaretto
- eat, drink and be merry whilst having a temporary bout of bulimia so as not to put on three stone

What a palaver.  Christmas, it seems to me, is a time for just hanging about with people you like, doing the things you all want to do that you don't really have time for during the rest of the year because every day is busy.  At least at Christmas, it's busy with fairy lights.



Monday, 3 December 2012

Kwills, babies and child benefit (rant alert)

Well, I hear that Kwills are pregnant.  Congrats.  Yet another one of my predictions has come true. 

I make such predictions all the time.  Predictions that are, in fact, statistically quite likely.  It makes me feel a little bit more clever than I am.   My most recent prediction (apart from their royal preggerness) was that Charlie would win IACGMOOH on Saturday.

I didn't watch - I went to bed in a fug of Saturday night reality/competitive/celebrity overload.  I felt particularly clever on Sunday  morning when my prediction had been proven without the necessity of watching her eat wallaby genitalia.  See, I'm a lucky girl.  I have a lot to be thankful for.

On to the subject of this post...

We had our Child Benefit letter recently - the one that tells you that if the father of your offspring has worked hard enough for however long to make sure he provides enough cash for your family then you won't get a benefit that has been the backbone of our welfare system since 1946.

It has been paid to everyone, however much their father/mother earned or where they live or what they do, since 1946 - that's 66 years.   Since the war.  Since the war that inspired various politicians to endeavour to make our society a better, more equal place.

Now, if you/I/we are earning more than the threshold amount then there is a big part of me that says that's fine.  If you don't need it or you use it to pay for your highlights or your La Perla lingerie, you don't need it and in these straightened times we must all take the hit, suck it up, reduce our circumstances, tighten our belts blah di blah di blah.

However, for me the principle here is the equality of the benefit.  The fact that every child, no matter into what circumstances they were born were automatically entitled to receive that benefit until, I read, 7th January 2013. There was nothing to stop the wealthy from refusing their Child Benefit or not claiming it in the first place.  It would be intriguing to find out how many did not.

Child Benefit, or as it used to be called, Family Allowance was one of those principles - like the NHS,  like free school dinners, like tuition fees - one of those things that the politicians in 1946 put into place to give everyone, if they needed it, that little extra bit of help. 

I know it's a different world.  I know things have gone pear-shaped financially but does everything have to be so mean-spirited all the time?  Are 'benefit scroungers' and 'disability cheats' screwing as much out of the system as the corporations and high-net-worth individuals with particularly special tax advisors managing to screw?  Would it really make that much difference to the national coffers to protect something of our welfare state?  Would it be so hard to make sure that babies and children went through their school life with that little financial buffer for their parents?  I think not.

So...on the day that Kate & William celebrate the birth of their baby, hundreds of other babies will be born and their parents will be wondering where on earth they are going to find the £20 or so a week they would have received for 18 years (after tax).  If my maths is right, about £1000 per year, so £18,000.   Saved, that's a good start for university.  Spent, it might make the difference between a square meal a day or not.

Happy Christmas Mr Osborne.  I won't be forking out 50p to send you a Christmas card, 2nd class.


Monday, 26 November 2012

who would have thought it...

Facebook informs me (I didn't enquire) that 6,038,255 people like food.

Really?

Actually?

Seriously?

I write this in homage to that bloke who has a serious(ly) problem with adverbs in the new cooking show on More4.  It's called Spice something or other and I was watching it to avoid the Xfactor last night.

I am sure Enthusiastic Spice is a very pleasant young man and I read his cookery column in the Torygraph on Saturdays but, dear me, every other word with a 'ly' on the end.  Did no-one notice in any of the rehearsals/recordings....at all????

Sunday, 25 November 2012

rivers deep...






There was quite a gathering at the bridge today.  There were iphones and camcorders and proper cameras pointed at the scene above.  The sight of our 'show field' dressed up as a wide, fast-flowing torrenty river was one to see and I'm pleased we ventured out with our neighbours to have a look but the whole thing makes me angsty.

I didn't like the dramatic change to our gentle landscape.  I didn't like the noise the thousands of gallons of water made sleusching under the bridge.  I didn't like the idea of the damage that water was doing to the bridge that we take for granted.  A few months ago, J & E were in tractor tyres bobbing down here in a raft-race.  I wasn't happy then and they were in three feet of water. 

Let's hope the sun comes out soon - here in our little corner of Wiltshire and in the places more badly affected by this weather.



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

'tis pity she is a hoarder


These are the (mostly) empty notebooks and diaries that I have collected over the last few years.  I have a problem.  It's not serious enough to get me on the telly but, dearie me, I need to do something.  In my defence I haven't bought ALL of these books.  There are gifts in there and also books that needed a home.  This, however, is the tip of an exceedingly large iceberg.  There are collections of yarn, fabric, paper, stationery (do I count books?) around our house and they have all been gathered by me.  There is no-one else to blame. 

I could say I'm going to have yet another sort out, another clear out, another tidy up.  That's not going to happen - certainly not before next summer but I have made a small start, clearing out my inbox and unsubscribing to the daily barrage of emails from online retailers, grocers and insurance salespeople.  I've spent a very satisfying half an hour deleting myself from their communication lists.

I don't want their incessant cries of 'buy me, buy me' popping up before my very eyes.  I just don't have the bandwidth.  I am going to strip my inbox of all un-necessary communication - especially the ones from Paperchase.


Friday, 12 October 2012

work in progress

If you'd like to keep up to date with my latest artistic endeavour, head over to hall-mark.

Judy and I are friends and neighbours who just happen to be third year art students.

We're collaborating and making new work for a show in the brand-new Goss Croft Hall, Seagry.  Goss Croft is a very new hall and an amazing achievement of community fundraising and effort.  We both feel honoured to have the opportunity to present our work here.

We hope the blog will form a record of the project and its development.


Goss Croft Hall
***
PS:  Private View, 6 - 8pm, Friday 30 November
Too early for mince pies and mulled wine?

Monday, 8 October 2012

priorities

I have spent the last three hours in a blind panic, thinking I had lost my purse.  Some of you who read this will not be surprised. 

The last three hours were also spent at J's 'sixth form open evening'.  I concentrated as hard as I could whilst worrying about my bank cards and driver's licence and working out how early I could get to college tomorrow morning to check lost property.  I found my student card in my pocket and the last time I saw my purse I was printing out some articles in the library.  I was convinced I would find it there.

A few minutes ago I found it in our 'so-called' first aid box - the box that's full of old penicillin prescriptions, a pot of crusty vaseline and some random herbal sleeping tablets.  The box that used to have Calpol and those useless head thermometers.  I had scooped it up after digging about for some paracetomol for The Worker whose patience, I can tell, is wearing quite thin.  This is the first drama of the week but one of several since I started back at college - all minor, all solvable but involving quite a bit of faffing, dithering and hyper-anxiety.

I feel stupid and cross with myself for tonight's events.  I'm nearly forty five.  I'm not fifteen.  I'm worse, in many ways, than the kids who seem, thankfully, to have inherited their father's organisational abilities, not mine.

I feel stupid and cross with myself for not concentrating, for not taking enough care of the important things by allowing myself to get distracted and disengaged simply because I'm rushing about and doing too many things without thinking.

It's time to start concentrating.





Sunday, 7 October 2012

Bag lady

I'm a bag.  Just in time for my birthday....

Here's the lovely Janice bag by Raoul (what a clever man he must be).  Who would have thought that I'd be in the same company as Alexa, Ms Birkin and Ms Del Ray?  And me, from Wigan!


We live in hope!


Monday, 1 October 2012

'tis the season

I feel a little out of kilter.  As you know, I'm not fond of the summer months.  I do not enjoy heat or hayfever, prefer red wine to cold, chilly white, roast dinners to barbecues.  I'm a shade-loving creature.

This year, however, I have not had enough sunshine.  I have realised that I need the summer months and the sunshine to get me geared up for our autumn/winter extravaganza that starts with J's birthday this week and concludes, usually, with a slightly weary liverish feeling on the 1st January.

My seasonal down-time, like most of us are the months of January and February although, perhaps unusually, I love that chance to really cosy up inside and get ready for spring.

I know that the next twelve weeks or so will be a whirl of this, that and the other.  Luckily, we have a sunny trip planned which will, with any luck, top up the Vitamin D for the following months.

As it is, I'm going to eat cake (sorry Slimming World), imbibe copious amounts of caffeine and make merry every fortnight or so until 2013 whilst inwardly fretting about deadlines and projects and sketchbooks. 
***
Did anyone see the 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger' translation on Downton last night?

Sybil got jilted at the altar - Mama's wise words - 'whatever tests you, my darling, will make you stronger'.  See - the oldies are the best.

And what's the story with Mrs Hughes and Carson?  I think things are going to hot up with that pair of lovebirds.

***
On running....I can do it for 30 minutes now, I remember, I told you.  Mmmmm....haven't run for ten days.  It's too dark, too cold in the mornings and I can't bear being spotted by anyone else in daylight hours - too embarassing.  Suggestions on a comment please.
 



Monday, 24 September 2012

Didn't we have a loverly time...


I didn't go to Bangor on Saturday, I went to Margate.  I know you're humming the tune...





Margate, it has to be said, isn't the most beautiful of seaside towns - yet.

It appears to have had a colourful history.


But it seems to have lost much of its charm.  I took a trip with J and L to see the recent work of Margate's prodigal daugter.

Our destination gleamed in the low September sunshine.





It, the Turner Contemporary, is truly a beacon of cultural hope and modern optimism.  It's strapline (we must all have one) is 'art inspiring change'.

In it we saw a selection of Tracey Emin's new drawings, watercolours and embroideries.  They were/are beautiful, raw and poignant.

I learned that Turner's champion, Ruskin, took it upon himself to censor Turner's more intimate, physical works to ensure that his idol was seen as a master of light, colour and landscape, not legs, tits and bums.  There were three of Turner's tiny sketchbooks on display.  Mesmerising.

Tracey obviously wanted to demonstrate that her work is, in fact, nothing new or shocking.  Displaying her work alongside Rodin and Turner watercolours, she made the links clear.  I loved the way she referenced 'my house in France' and the trauma of having her olive grove brutally pruned.  One of the rooms was painted 'cooking apple green' by Farrow and Ball.   As they say - the girl done good.

I loved it but then I've always admired her.  I love the way she's just carried on, doing what she does, having the heart and sheer brutal determination to work amidst the fury that often surrounds her.  Now the Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy, I think she's worked for her good life and I'm interested in how her confessional work will change as she ages. 

Around the gallery, it seemed that there are changes afoot in Margate.  It felt as if there was a little seaside garden of creativity and entrepreneurship being nurtured and protected by the sea wall and this brand new artistic venture. Almost as if the gallery had just moved in to a house with a run down plot and had started to plant the basics - there were cafes and vintage stores and pop-up galleries. 


Old Town seemed to be the main hub of regeneration.  There was a little on the sea wall that jutted out from the Turner but there needs to be more than a few fuschia parasols involved to make this Brighton.

Margate left me hoping that it would succeed, that Londoners would take the trouble to train it to the seaside again.  It's got all the raw materials.  I might go back again one day. 





Monday, 17 September 2012

project third year


Like millions of families, we took ourselves to Stratford during the summer holidays.  You  know I'm not a sports fanatic.  Despite much boring protestation on my part in the run up and duration of the greatest sporting event....ever, I enjoyed our trip.  I loved the buildings, the landscaping, the demonstration of sheer organisational perfection.

I was, in my youth labelled with 'clever but flaky'.  I still leave irons on, doors wide open, cars unlocked and trails of random items, most recently my bank card in the cash machine at HSBC in Malmesbury.  It was OK.  It was in Malmesbury.  The lovely lady at the bank had acquired it by some sort of banking magic where it was absorbed into the building. 

I never leave my keys in the same place which amuses (not) The Worker no end.  I make piles rather than files and my knickers are in with my socks.

I admire people who build things, make things, arrange things especially when they manage such things on time and without shouting at people.  I imagine Seb Coe's household must be a minimalist shrine to doing and being pleasant with it.

So, to get to the point.  You knew I would, eventually.  I find myself, today, hours before my induction with a pile of books I've sort of read and a few scrappy pieces of paper on which I've made scribbles of notes and ideas upon.  They may find themselvs in a lever arch file at some point but, they're strewn across my desk.  There is no evidence of drawing - at all - since I finished the second year at the end of May.  That's three and a half months of no drawing. 

This will not do.  I haven't had my recurring college nightmare for years (until last night).  The one where I've messed up (like last time) and get a chance to go back (like this time) but I just don't do it.  The events that conspire against me are different every time I dream it but I've never dreamt I graduated.  I've always dreamt that something stops me whether it's my own incompetence of a green, fluffy monster. 

Study-wise, I need to prove what I'm thinking and not keep it all in my head.  I have to produce sketchbooks, notebooks, reading notes, dissertation outlines, all the while 'developing my practice' and drawing, drawing, drawing.

It's going to be an interesting nine months of productivity.  Can you tell I'm feeling a little anxious?

*****

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

what's that coming over the hill?

It's a new blogger interface, apparently.  I'm looking at it now as I post and I'm not very happy.  There's quite a bit of orange and it looks completely different to the old dashboard I have been managing with for however many years I've been blogging.  Yuck.  It's interesting how one small change can have quite such an impact.  I like things to stay the same or, at least, change slowly.  I don't like pop-up warnings that shout about impending upgrades and do it now or, you never know, your blog might disappear in a flash of html.

****

School has started.  The primary years are over in our house.  No more walking to school, delivering our precious offspring, no more carol services, no more cycle proficiency, no more chatting at the school gate.  From now on it's slightly earlier mornings, off on the bus at 8am and back at 4pm unless there's something else more interesting going on instead.  I'm sure there will be several dramas of a variety of descriptions along the way but I have to say I'm happy to be slightly further along the parenting road. 

****

I should have known that things might turn out to be a little more complicated than when I was optimistically making lists.  The final year of my degree starts next week and I have been given a copy of the timetable.  The next nine months are going to be a challenge.  I see that now.  No amount of list making is going to help me avoid the fact that there are deadlines to meet and actual, real studying/reading/drawing to be done.  All this and our usual shenanigans.  There was an article in the Sunday Times at the weekend about being busy and the types of busy we can be.  I've put it on my noticeboard with an addition.  Just *&^%$ing busy - that's all!

****

I'm still running.  Three times a week.  Enjoying the early morning mists and the low sunshine. It might be time to invest in a long-sleeved running top.  I'm getting a bit chilly around the upper arms.  I also invested in a rather attractive running belt.  No more sweaty ipod for me!

****

And finally:  Geri H & Russel B - can this be real?  There's a part of me that truly hopes it is.

Monday, 20 August 2012

the calm before

Since I last blogged, I've added a couple of things to my to-do-list.

I have added part-time Learning Advisor to my ever-increasing list of job-titles.

I got whiff of a job in the library at college towards the end of term.  Fifteen hours a week.  Perfect - I'm going there three times a week anyway and I love, love, love the library.  What did I have to lose?  Well, it turns out, nothing.  I got the job - hurrah - and started last week with a very lovely team of co-workers and a whole library of books, magazines and the opportunity to have a go with the scanners.  There was the small issue of starting in the summer holidays but neither J nor E have batted an eyelid.  I think they quite like the fact that I'm not nagging them to leave the house three mornings a week to go for a picnic in the rain at the nearest National Trust property before our membership runs out.

My logic?  Fifteen hours a week will bring a reasonable amount of extra income into the household without spending what seems like days and hours doing the donkey work that needs to be done as a self-employed writer/tutor.  I love teaching crafts.  Love, love, love it.  However, not everyone in our current economic climate has the interest or wherewithall to send themselves to classes on how to make lovely handmade things.  Me and my lovely workshops are not high on everyone's shopping lists in a double-dip recession.  Fair enough.

So, I have been calculating and planning my weekly schedule - anticipating the routine that will emerge in a couple of weeks time.   Both children (or, rather, young adults) will be at secondary school - leaving the house at 8am and returning at 4pm at the earliest.  This means there are 40 hours every week when, in theory, I should have no distractions.

15 hours I'll be at work and, unfortunately, 5 hours will be spent driving to and from work/college but for that, I have a new plan - podcasts.  I am busily googling and downloading as many art-related radio programmes as possible so that I can listen and get brainy whilst I drive.  Suggestions would be welcomed. 

I know I am fairly deluded about this clockwork time planning but it is giving me an inordinate sense of well-being and calm so I am going to continue until the (*/$£^ hits the fan and I start hurling myself around in an incoherent panic of dissertations, GCSEs, sports kit and sleepovers.

I love this time of year.  I love the nights drawing in slowly but surely and I have a severe case of new pencil case syndrome (this year I am self-medicating with a new phone - I do love an upgrade and it would be rude not to give Orange a little bit more of my hard-earned cash).

I love the possibility of the new term and I think it's because I loved school.  All the way through.  I loved being with my friends and learning all that stuff.  I never got bored and I've realised that the only times I get bored now are when there isn't enough to do.

So, here I am preparing, preparing, preparing before the new term starts and we can all get doing, doing, doing.

Monday, 13 August 2012

PB

It's been two months since I attended to this blog.  A lot has happened in the last few weeks - did you hear? 

I was never an olympophile - more olympiphobe than anything.  I don't understand that 'faster, stronger, higher' thing.  I admire people who strive for all that stuff (to an extent) but I just don't get that pursuit of one task to the final, superlative degree.  It's not that I'm an advocate of laziness, particularly, I just think there are other things in life than running about and chucking stuff - like art, like literature, like beautiful music.

There, I said it.  I've been quiet because I didn't want to be a bah humbug.  I have felt like one of those people who can't bear Christmas - slightly suspicious to others and a bit of a killjoy. 

I liked the opening and closings and I quite enjoyed the athletics.  I was partial to the odd bit of shot put and thought JE should be promoted to 'inspiring young women tsarina'.  We went to the park and I loved the buildings and the flowers and the atmosphere and the overall jollyness and Britishness of it all.  I wasn't too much of a party-pooper.

Added to all this, since I last blogged, I've started running again.  I'm now dong a PB every other day, increasing my running time by a minute or two each 'go'.

This morning - 13 minutes run, 2 minutes walk, 8 minutes run, 1 minutes walk, 6 minutes run.  That's 27 minutes, folks.  Two 5K races for Mo Farah, one shuffle to Dauntsey and back for me!

Back soon.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

someone's stolen me pots

They're gone - our massive terracotta glazed pots that have stood either side of our front door for the best part of ten years with a drought-resistant, low-maintenance conifer in each of them.  How sad is that?

I didn't notice, of course, despite being the first one scooting away from the house this morning.  The Worker called me to let me know.  Nothing else has gone but the house is looking a bit bereft and there are two little circles of soil where the bases of the pots stood.

Need to get the broom out and sweep away evidence of our local crimewave.

Maybe the thieves will be struck down with a bad back from lugging the not insubstantial articles from van to their own front door?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

DIY (makeover) SOS

Having got to June without any major domestic upset - we had SATS, end of term assessments, GCSEs and a job changeover as well as other stuff rumbling about - I find myself at the beginning of June a tad deflated.

The Jubilee came and went - all very jolly if a little damp and now the summer (damper) is upon us. 

I've started on the house (although it's hard to tell) and the garden was looking good until the tornado hit.  I spent Saturday afternoon mowing the weeds on the allotment, looking like a middle-aged, transgender, Edward Scissorhands wielding the mower with my hair tied up (hair appointment tomorrow).  It was very satisfying and the patch is now covered and waiting for a gap in the rain so that I can plant my pumpkin seedlings.

This week, I am feeling most in need of a long, extended spa visit - an MOT for the body.  I have an almost cellular hankering for horizontal pampering - to be wrapped in a warm bathrobe and for someone to appear with a menu of primping, polishing, waxing, moisturising, styling, manicuring, pedicuring and any other procedure which might result in a less frazzled looking moi.  If I had the time and the cash I'd go somewhere that detoxed and beautified at the same time - somewhere to recharge and renew.

This is not to be.  There is no time and there is no spare cash!

I am going to have to take matters into my own hands - incidentally my hands are the only bit of me that are looking reasonably presentable.

This is not a woe is me post.  I have plans.

Significantly Euro (bloody hell, can there be more sport on the sodding telly) 2012 has started.  This means that my opportunites for crap-telly watching are severely impeded.  Last night I made a messenger bag.  Tonight I am doing a talk at our local Embroiderers' Guild.

Tomorrow night - the pampering begins.  

Accept this as a DIY (makeover) SOS call.  If you have any hints, tips for 'at-home' beauty, here's the place to send them.  If you send them, I will do them as long as they don't involve fish pedicures or plucking my own eyebrows.  I'm thinking scrubs made from ingredients in my store cupboard, facepacks from avocado - you know the stuff.  What works for you.

Will it work for me?

So, wish me luck.  I will be gathering supplies and finding all those freebies and pots that have been lurking in the cupboards.  Let's hope it works.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

communication, maritally speaking

I have sent The Worker two emails today.  Both involved offspring-related events and activities.  I presume this is a relatively normal activity?  Do other couples communicate using email?  I suppose they must.  I don't often email him.  I wouldn't email him a list but then again I don't provide written lists either.  I still live in the optimistic hope that if a thing needs doing then both of us can see it and at some point in time one of us will sort it out.

We do have 'departments'.  I don't do bins (internatl or external) or lightbulbs or anything resembling or relating to DIY.  I am not authorised to load the dishwasher as, apparently, I haven't been able to get to a good enough standard of loading since we've lived together which I think is now in the region of the 20 year mark.  Suits me.  I seem to have relinquished all responsibility for recycling and, again, I think this is due to the air of flibbertigibbity-ness I've been cultivating ever since realising that someone, somewhere has to do these things.

Anyway....the email thing got me thinking about the effect of technology on marital communication.  I have friends who seem to receive numerous communications from their spouse during the working day.  I get an ETA call most days (not always) but rarely an unprompted text about, well, anything.  Should I be feeling neglected?  Should I try to ignite some spark of marital texting?  Might our relationship suffer if we are not in constant communicado throughout the day?

Part of my reluctance to instigate such communication is that I loathe The Worker's ringtone.  He has a somewhat middle-aged blackberry and I can't work out how to change the *&^$ing thing.  It's a sort of two town squawk.  I hate to think I might be making it ring more than it has to.  It's just a hideous noise that doesn't deserve to be heard.  Unfortunately, it's heard quite a great deal but then thank goodness for that - economic climate and all that.

So, this is what happens when essays are finished and assessments are done.  There's a little more time on the brain as well as the hands.  I'm sure it can only get more obscure.

As an aside - I've been given an ancient loom which is looking for a home, preferably not our garage for much longer.   It's old and battered and needs some TLC.  Someone needs to take up weaving and it's not going to be me.

Friday, 25 May 2012

r,w & b

Will it ever end?  Entering a Tesco this week is done so at risk of being dizzyfied by Union Jacks strewn across aisles, smothering everything from Weetabix to dishwasher tablets.  I fear for those 'Keep Calm and Get the Beers In' t-shirts.  What will happen come a week on Wednesday when we're all a few pounds heavier and wishing we hadn't eaten quite so much coronation chicken and sausage rolls?

I'm not a party-pooper.  I'm looking forward to our village 'do' which is being ably and efficiently organised as I type.  I love a bit of patriotism every so often but, dear me, this has been going on for ages - since that wedding.  Two street parties in two years?  It would seem so.

I dreamt that Kwills were going to announce a pregnancy just to make the Jubilee complete.  That way, we can have another street party when the next wee Windsor pops out.  Might be a bit chilly on the streets in January/February next year but perhaps we can have indoor street parties in houses where they can afford to put the heating on.

So, here we go - paper cups and plates at the ready.  Will the sunshine last?  Will there be a downpour?  Will we all have a good time?

I should jolly well think so.

Rule Britannia!

Monday, 21 May 2012

waiting game


I, the autumn/winter lover.  I, the woman who loves winter boot shopping.  I, the woodburner lover.  I am sick to death of this freezing so called summer crap grey weather.

The poppies are from years ago.  My wild poppies in the garden (pinker than these) are still shrunken little seedlings, barely brave enough to shoot up from the soil.

I know this because yesterday I gardened.

I dug, I hoed, I forked, I transplanted, I sowed more pots and I built wigwams for beans.

It must be summer as I now have too many spindly courgette plants on the allotment, flailing about in the chilly breeze.

Why am I still wearing a cardi?

On a positive note, I have finally caught up with the rest of the Western World and started watching the first series of The Killing on DVD.  We started last Sunday as a replacement for Homeland but I fell asleep after the first ten minutes.  We had to watch the first episode again last night and, in the end watched three.  Gripping stuff. 

I recorded TOWIE.  It's my not so secret, guilt-ridden TV must-watch.

Friday, 11 May 2012

change of direction

The assessments are done, the sketchbooks are filled, the critiques have been made.  Apart from a little dissertation thinking and our actual feedback (they don't seem to be called marks any more) the college year is over.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Berlin, staying up into the wee small hours and taking myself to places such as this

Once back in dear old Blighty and the reality of three projects, an exhibition to finish, mock GCSEs (not for me, for J) and impending SATS (not for me, for E) had hit, I got up between 4 and 5am every morning.

My body clock is *&^(*ed.  On Friday, I went to bed at 9.30pm to get an early night.  I woke at 11.11pm and got up, stayed up working till about 3am and then went to sleep for a couple of hours before waking up.

I'm a middle-aged woman.  I can't take this.  Thank God it's done.

My job, it would seem now, is to slowly purge the caffeine and sugar I've been 'using' to sustain such high levels of artistic activity and to get back on track with my efforts to hold back middle-aged spread.

In short, I've got to get back to those projectforty principles and get ready for the final year.

Wishing you a rain-free weekend.

Friday, 4 May 2012

if you're wondering


Normal service may resume next week...