Wednesday, 27 August 2008
I had anticipated that there would be some difference to allow for all the accents and the like but I didn't expect to to find the first line of the keyboard say AZERTY instead. As a touch-typer the moving of those two letters is bloody confusing.
They've also moved the M, it now resides to the right of the L.
You have to hit shift to get the numbers.
And shift for a full stop.
I like the odd apostrophe, but if I hit the keyboard where I expect it to be, I get ù instead.
I have regressed to my pre-touch-typing days.
It feels so very odd!
Even the location of the exclamation mark has wandered.
I'm sure I just gained a wrinkle from the level of concentration required to complete a single sentence!
The sun is shining, I've seen the mountains, ridden a cable car (without Jaws from Bond biting through said cable), today is Mum's birthday so a birthday meal is on the cards, even Louis has been to have his hair done.
Not a bad week at all. If only the letters would rearrange themselves!!
Friday, 22 August 2008
I was listening to the AOL radio yesterday, I typed in 'folk' and it presented me with a wonderful array of tracks and I heard a Johnny Cash one I'd never heard before and I decided he had to be Song Of The Week. Then this morning, again on AOL radio he popped up again, singing Danny Boy which is a song that has a special place in my heart.
So when I chose to have him for Song of The Week I was faced with a dilemma.
Did I go with Boy Named Sue, or Ring Of Fire, Hurt or Walk The Line? Or any of so many other choices?
I've only recently discovered his work with Bob Dylan and am falling in love with all of those songs.
But, I decided on him and June in the end. It's a classic!
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
However, it's taken me ages to get around to watching the most recent installment but lovefilm thoughtfully delivered it to me at the weekend so I managed to find time to curl up on my sofa and watch it.
I liked it. I'm no movie critic, but it entertained me and that's what I want from a movie. Sometimes I want to be moved, sometimes made to think, sometimes to laugh, but always be entertained.
After the movie ended I hit the special features and found this:
I laughed so hard. And at about 3.15 when they do the Brokeback skit.... well I still chortle. Bruce Willis is funny! I had no idea!
The real question however is whether I confess that it was my recent attraction to baking that really screwed it up in the first place?
This morning I've been updating my cooking/recipe blog with my most recent adventures in baking, with delights like Luscious Lemon Bars, Praline Pavlova Cookies, Ladies' Kisses, Chocolate Truffle Cookies, Black Forest Gateau Cupcakes, Rocky Road Chocolate Bars, Chocolate Maltesers Cupcakes, Peanut Crunch Cookies and Chocolate Caramel Nuggets. My adventures in Ice Cream making are there too.
Got your tastebuds all moist? I bloody hope so, I make a fine cupcake and cookie I do!
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Ahhhh, delicious. I know he'd find and successfully outwit the fiend who killed me.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
A skirt too but that goes without saying, I'm not a great exhibitionist after all.
So, here's the question:
How did I, whilst wearing tights (admittedly of the wee fishnet variety) manage to create a 2 inch long cut in my right leg with my car keys?
No wait, it's a two part question.
How did I achieve the above and manage not to ruin my tights?
I think we'll all agree I have a spectacular talent.
I'm still not entirely sure how it happened.
Today, I dropped in to see how Mum was doing and collect my ice cream bowl (as my freezer is too small to store it). It was then suggested that we go pick the ripe blackberries across the road. Tupperware in hand, we slowly sauntered off. I moved round the back of the bush and a short while later I felt a stabbing in my leg and decided a thorn must have got me. I glanced down. No thorn. I felt my leg. There was something inside my trousers. Running further round the bush and at the behest of my mother, trousers were dropped. A wasp had got inside my trousers. And stung me.
Would you believe it?
I now have a greater dislike for them than before....
Monday, 11 August 2008
The deliciousness you are about to behold will have you smacking your lips.
It doesn't matter if you've already eaten, hunger will overcome you.
Forget doughnuts, chocolate, your favourite flavour of crisps, the best cake in the world; this will surpass it all.
You may instead experience a feeling of revulsion.
Below you will find what, in Lincolnshire, passes for food.
But more than that, hospital food.
A place where health is paramount, or rather you regaining your health.
To do this you need a balanced diet.
Food must appear to have been retched up earlier in the day, caked in fat, microwaved to within an inch of its life and most importantly have zero substance and no taller than a pancake.
This, my friends, is cheese, leek and onion bake. No really, it said so on the menu.
I love hospital food. I love that this particular dish has a distinct aura of grease, you can see it deep on the plate.
The government recommends "5 a day". But not in its hospitals. If you want that in hospital, you'd damn well better have one of two things.
1. Enough fitness and mobility to go to the shop/canteen to buy it for yourself.
2. Relatives willing to bring in food with nutritional value.
I remember being in hospital, the one thing I regularly pleaded for was fruit. Taking grapes to the ill is a standing joke - but damn it, if you want a vitamin or two it's essential.
Orange juice is on the menu. I have concluded that this refers only to the colour of the liquid you are supplied, not to any fruit content.
In the times I was in hospital, waiting for surgery to remove my gallbladder I had an incredibly limited menu. Ok, I'm vegetarian, so that meant that virtually all of the 2 week rotating menu was off for me, so I turned to the patient information folder and the vegetarian menu. There were about a dozen choices on the vegetarian menu. Great! Not so much, because were they also low-fat? No.
It shouldn't be hard to eat a low-fat diet in a hospital. Should it?
It wasn't through choice, but fat + gallstones = a serious need for morphine.
I remember ordering peach slices for a pudding one day. You know how many peach slices I got? Three. The actual NHS guidelines state 2 halves. 3 slices doesn't even make one half! The NHS doesn't even follow it's own guidelines.
As I look back, I'm so furious with myself for not making a formal complaint.
However, on the upside, the ice cream is gorgeous!
That was the easy decision.
Deciding who to choose as the singer was the tougher choice.
So I didn't choose.
Well, I did, but a selection...
This has to be one of the most beautiful songs that exist.
Every single time I hear it, it gives me goosebumps, it's good enough to move you to tears.
So, the past few days has been rather manic. I woke on Wednesday morning after a really good nights sleep and was lazing in bed relaxing when the phone rang. It was Mum and 15 minutes later I was rushing her to hospital with suspected appendicitis. I spent almost all day at the hospital while they decided what they were going to do with her, I was sure she was going to be admitted although they wouldn't swear to that at any point. Once she was relatively settled I had to head to the barn and to the doctor. Good news was that the lump in my neck isn't sinister, although the way it disappears behind my collarbone feels weird. I'm being referred for tests on my right arm which sounds like lots of fun. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Tendonitis.
Baking is officially bad for you!
I had tendonitis in my foot once, although that was called Plantar fasciitis, impressive non? I am a walking disaster area.
Anyway, Tim decided to fly back into the UK, so it was a drive to Stansted on Thursday. Mum had been scheduled in for surgery on Thursday too, some time after 10am. However when Tim and I returned and visited at 5.30pm, she was still on the ward awaiting surgery. We stayed until the end of visiting at 9pm and on the way home proclaimed it impossible she have surgery that night. But a little after 10pm they shot off with her to take out that mean appendix.
It's now Monday and after a few days of recovery I shall be heading off to collect Mum and take her home. You always feel better once you get home and can do what you want, when you want, in peace.
Sadly, she was supposed to be heading to France on Saturday, the one just gone, but has been decreed safe for flying, so after a week she'll be jetting off to France too.
Still, at least the sun is shining here now.
I can hang out the washing on my wonky washing line.
Before I sign off, I must relate the tale of the car park karma faery getting the better of me.
On Wednesday I spoke to the folks at main reception at the hospital, as although they don't advertise the fact - you only have to pay one parking fee a day. So, I got a free ticket to leave after my second visit. The same happened on Thursday after my second visit. On Friday Tim had visited twice and I had only made one visit, but their prices are extortionate so Mum said to tell them I'd already been.
So I did.
I managed to get McGrumpy-Pants on reception who berated me for not having obtained a receipt at my first visit. I explained that neither receptionist on the previous two days had told me this. She duly gave me a free ticket. I went back to the car and drove to the exit. Now, the windows don't work on my car, so I have to drive past the ticket machine, insert ticket, leap back in my car and drive in time for the barrier to go up. This I did. The barrier didn't move. I looked back and my ticket was sticking out of the machine with the words "Card Unreadable. See Cashier" displayed above.
I removed the card. I reinserted it. The exact same thing happened.
Thanking my lucky stars that no one was behind me, I backed up the car, parked it again, returned to reception whilst cursing the karma faery. A girl was blathering away at the receptionist so I waited for the babble to end, before telling the receptionist my card didn't work.
"Did you put it near your mobile phone?" she asked.
"No" I said, "I saw the note on the card not to, so I kept it in my purse, away from my phone."
"Do you have bank cards in your purse?" she queried.
"Yes", of course I bloody do, it's my fricking purse I thought.
"They can wipe the ticket too" she snootily told me.
Really, where the fuck are you supposed to keep the bloody ticket? You're not allowed to bend the things either.
She went on to ask me if I'd already paid, I reminded her I'd only just been there - seriously, I have scarlet hair, I'm fairly recognisable.
So, finally she issued me with a new ticket, which I treated with kid gloves.
I drove back to the exit. Jumped out of the car. Inserted ticket. Jumped back into car.
The barrier didn't move.
I looked back.
My ticket was again sticking out of the machine.
The display read "Please take your ticket".
Seriously, every other day it's kept the ruddy thing.
Ticket retrieved, escape made. Hurrah!
But, oh carpark karma faery, I have learnt my lesson.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Well, not injuries per se.
I mentioned in a previous entry that my wrist was dodgy, well it was much improved due to lots of very sensible resting of said wrist.
Then I went to the festival. And clapped. A lot.
By Saturday the splint/bandage/support contraption was back in place.
Oh yes, I hurt myself clapping. It takes a certain kind of talent.
Today I went to the supermarket, I was amongst the vegetables, pondering on the broad beans and remembering the broad bean & pea risotto recipe I had stashed at home. I squatted to examine the low boxes and immediately squealed.
It would seem I have hurt the muscles at the front of my lower leg, the name of which escapes me. (It's been a long time since I took Human Biology.) Luckily my day-to-day life does not involve an enormous amount of squatting, so am saved from further agony!
I have an appointment tomorrow to see the doctor. Hilariously, for neither of these complaints. I ask you... I feel like a hypochondriac.
But, I found this lump in my neck and the ostrich approach is generally frowned upon.
Also, whilst talking to Mum over the weekend we discussed her recent surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. She mentioned a couple of symptoms which rang very clear bells for me as I regularly wake to discover numbness in my hands. I'd always thought it was the whole hand, but she said it's never the little finger. I laid, chilling out over the weekend and realised only my thumb and first two fingers were numb. Oh good.
Always with the drama. Although, this is officially the first time I've had to book a double appointment to discuss a double problem. Is this the way of the future?
Still, they don't know my name at the surgery, which indicates I haven't been there too much... or the staff have bad memories? Or, when I worked in a dental surgery and remembered probably thousands of patients that I was a freak.
Yeah. I'm a freak.
As an aside, I managed to hurt the wrist on which my festival wristband was residing, so the splint contraption had to go over it. Now, viewing of said wristband is obviously essential to security staff. As I entered the festival on Sunday, I walked up to the security man, winked and quickly pulled back the Velcro to surprise him with a flash of orange wrist band.
His eyebrows raised as he said "I've never been flashed before!"
I like to create a few firsts.
Monday, 4 August 2008
Although I'm not quite willing to give it up just yet and am listening to the highlights on the Radio 2 site as I tap away at the keyboard.
Eric Bibb is currently belting out a song and a very fine one it is too...suddenly seems so long ago I stood dancing to it, the cheers in the background may have been mine!
Midday arrived on Thursday, our scheduled departure time, we packed everything into the car. I still haven't mastered the art of packing lightly, I don't like sleeping bags so take a king size duvet. And a suitcase. And a Texan icebox. And. And. And.
We headed off and stopped for lunch on the way, which meant that we made our arrival at the campsite at the perfect hour. You see, there are two campsites for the festival. One at Cherry Hinton where the festival itself is held and the other a short bus ride away at Coldhams Common. I always camp at Coldhams as it means I can have the car right next to the tent - which stores all my crap which comes with my inability to pack lightly. Now, Coldhams Common is split into two halves, the first being proper Common ground, long grass on undulating ground with cow/sheep pats for extra interest. The second half is a playing field. Perfectly flat with short mown grass.
No prizes for guessing which half is most comfortable to camp on.
Tent was erected. Beds inflated. Wristbands attached. Programme bought. Bus caught.
We strolled onto Cherry Hinton. I felt the atmosphere and tried to decide what I was going to do. My one real prayer had been that Laura Marling and Three Daft Monkeys didn't clash. I examined the programme. Shit. A tough decision was going to have to be made.
I put it off a while as we wandered around the stalls, looked at the food, I stared longingly at the CD stall, wishing the bank balance allowed me to purchase almost everything on view.
Every Thursday I have Nachos Grandee. It's become a tradition and one that I dragged Mum into, although she wasn't unwilling! We managed to grab a table under the food marquee and a few moments later the rain started to fall.
When the food was consumed and the rain slowed we headed to the Club Tent to watch Megson who I enjoyed, a nice way to ease into the weekend. Then a man, well over 6 feet tall decided to stand smack in the middle of the seated crowd. There were yells of "sit down" from the back, eventually someone waded through the crowd, tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he'd mind sitting down as he was blocking everyone behind him. His response was a little impolite, needless to say he stayed standing. It's worth adding here what a sense of karma there was to see him escorted from Stage One by security on Friday night, and a sense of glee. Obviously.
After Megson it was time for Stage Two to watch Cherryholmes. Who were awesome. Absolutely loved them, but left in the middle to go back to the tent. I had made my decision, 3 Daft Monkeys were the choice of the night, so I had to drop off my bag and chair.
I returned and told Mum that we were going in. But she exclaimed, we've already been in the marquees. I shook my head. No, no, no. Standing at the back is nothing like standing in the melee at the front and it has to be experienced at least once. The difference in atmosphere in different areas of the marquees is distinctly palpable. So in we went... I'd decided that the Club Tent would be the safest melee to experience and it was excellent. I really enjoy Three Daft Monkeys, they're just such great fun. I'd heard the albums before I saw them live and love them even more now! I danced and danced and then danced some more. I was lovely and pink faced and a little glowing to say the least. Just the way I like it. Although, I must admit I saw Mum visibly flinch and her fingers fly to her ears when the whooping and whistling commenced at the end of the set. I love a good whoop I do.
We headed back to the tent afterwards and to the showers. There was a small queue, this was new to me, the late night showers used to be something I was totally alone in. Showers slowly became available and I let Mum go first. Another door opened, the gentleman emerging told me that the water was "a bit cold". That may have been the definition of an understatement. I have established where the glacial meltwaters are going - to that shower. I'm pleased I was still so hot from dancing otherwise I'd have risked hypothermia. I washed my hair, got dried and headed off to bed. I slept quite well, despite my habitually deflating airbed.
Friday morning. Off to Sainsburys for breakfast and to shop for lunch. I prefer to graze on salad and fruit than buy from the food stalls most of the time. It stops the fighting to get in and out of Main Stage. Breakfasted and shopped, we headed back to the tent, got ready and headed to the festival. We sat down, readying ourselves for the run for a prime spot. Midday rolled around again and we all prepared ourselves for the barriers to be removed, for the compere to come onstage and tell us not to run.
A short while later the barriers were removed and obviously we all sprinted to our spot of choice, settling ourselves in and waiting for the first band to make their way on stage.
First of the day was Mauvais Sort. High energy and great for a bit of dancing, wouldn't mind owning one of their albums!
Second was Cherryholmes, so I got to see a full set this time. The band is one family and every single one of them is an incredibly talented, accomplished musician. And I'm not a bit jealous. Ahem.
Third was Eliza Carthy. I love Eliza I do. Everything about her, she's just a natural on stage, loved by the whole audience and you can't help but warm to her. She came on stage and very obviously pregnant, at one point resting her accordion on the bump and announcing that she was not having a child, she was having a table.
I'd arranged to meet a couple of ladies from Facebook, and we were all sitting together as I related something I'd read on another blog. I'll call it the Lift Theory. Basically, it's a way of judging a person by how it would be if you were stuck in a lift with them. You just know that Eliza would be cracking to be stuck in a lift with!
I must say here that it was a real delight to have arranged to meet some new people. Cambridge is a notoriously friendly festival and I ended up chatting with numerous people over the weekend, seeing people I recognised from the years I've been attending. I'd originally contacted Pip and Emma on Facebook because they'd noted on the site that they were attending alone, something I'd briefly considered doing before Mum said she'd like to go, so I thought it would be really good to meet the brave folks that had gone for it.
Before the short afternoon/evening break was Michael McGoldrick Band. What I found most amazing about this was their fiddler had got stuck because his flight had gone tits up, so in desperation they'd rung another fiddler. He'd learned the entire set, that day, in the car to the festival. What a true talent!
The evening sets began and three of my personally most-anticipated acts were on.
The Waifs were superb, I remember how blown away I was the first time I saw them and that still stays. I love how they work together. What I think is really interesting is that they're brilliant with a band, just as they're brilliant when it's just the three of them. I find it almost impossible to pick a favourite song - unlike the woman who relentlessly screamed for them to do 'Gillian'.
Then came the Peatbog Faeries. Who I adore. I danced until I was once again glowing. Just excellent. I never tire of seeing them. What was quite special to me was that the last time I had the opportunity to see them live I was really ill, it was before I was diagnosed with gallstones but I spent that gig in agonising pain and being desperately upset I was missing them.
The next gig was Billy Bragg. Not one I was looking forward to if I'm honest, I saw him once before and it just didn't do it for me. But, I really wanted to see the Levellers who were on immediately afterwards. So, did I attempt an escape to go and watch someone else or hang around? I'm lazy, I chose the latter. Then he went and opened his set with 'World Turned Upside Down', damn it, I was starting to warm to him. A little later he did 'Sexuality', damn I knew that one too. He covered a Bob Marley track. Then to top it all he did 'New England'. I actually mostly enjoyed it. Who knew! I am surprised.
Closing Friday night were the Levellers. Before they came on I leaned in to Mum and listed the songs I wanted; England My Home, Liberty, Dirty Davey, One Way, Riverflow. I got them all. My wishes were granted. I danced and once again was left glowing and mighty hot.
Again we trundled back to the bus and to the tent, I once again braved the showers, this time leaving my stuff on the step outside, going in to check that the shower both worked and had heat. The first one was icy, so I moved on, turning on the second I felt the water start to warm so went and collected my stuff. I undressed and went to step under the water, noticing the fast rising steam. I decided this must be due to the cooler temperatures outside, then I felt the water and wondered if I was risking third degree burns by stepping into it. But, I showered and left with all my skin miraculously still attached to me.
Once again, I slept well, although waking early due to the deflated airbed and light coming into the tent. Another Sainsburys breakfast later we packed up our food for the day and went to find a spot to settle in for the day.
Saturday held a few unknown names and a few that I was looking forward to.
First up at midday was The Chair - an Orcadian band and they bloody rocked! I had planned to have a lazy start to today's music, but was forced to my feet by the need to dance to their fabulous tunes.
Second was Chris Wood, who gave me the opportunity for that lazy time.
The thing is with Cambridge, whether or not an artist is to your taste you can wholly appreciate the songwriting, the musical talent, their incredible talent.
Having just finished listening to the Cambridge highlights this Monday evening I have heard a myriad of comments about Devon Sproule who was next up on Saturday. I enjoyed her, but I wasn't wild about her.
This is something I discussed with various people at various times, we can have an artist that we both love. One gentleman I chatted to shared a huge love of Loudon Wainwright III with me, but we couldn't have disagreed more about Kate Rusby.
It's like each of us is two circles that interlock to greater and lesser degrees. The overlapping part contains the artists in common and the outer part the ones we don't share, I've yet to find someone that completely overlaps my circle and I never expect to.
Altan were fourth to the stage, I've seen them a number of times and always enjoy them. Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh has such a beautiful voice and I never, never tire of it. Along with that there are jigs and reels - perfect!
Then, before the evening set began were Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba. Absolutely brilliant, one thing about Cambridge is that the artists really always appear to enjoy being on stage. This was particularly true of one of the band members here who was flinging his legs around with gay abandon whilst wearing possibly the most enormous grin I've ever seen.
The evening set kicked off with Eric Bibb, who is really a consummate performer and wonderfully easy on stage. I'd met up again with Emma and she loved him too, debating whether to see Martha Wainwright who was up next or to head off to get a signature from Eric Bibb. Mr Bibb won the toss and as a result I too have a signed programme! Hurrah! Thank you very kindly for that Emma! I just turned to that page in my programme to look at it and had a huge grin to myself.
Martha took the stage and I thought she was wonderful. It's such a change to come from not enjoying her at all the first time I saw her live to now feeling like I could listen to her for hours. I loved her version of Stormy Weather. I love her confidence on stage and I think that's what has made the difference. I also loved that she covered one of Loudon's tracks - Pretty Good Day, which is a really beautiful, powerful track.
Next was Allen Toussaint, someone who has been around a long time, written so many songs that you know so well, but without appreciating where they originated. The current Boots advert? With the 'Here come the girls' song? That's his. That classic 'Working In The Coal Mine'? His. Along with so many more. Once again someone born to be on the stage, wonderful.
Fourth was k. d. lang. I wasn't sure what to expect from her.
On Friday Mum and I had been chatting away to a gent called Geoff/Jeff (I'm sorry if you're out there that I didn't check the spelling!) We'd joked a little about the fact he'd injured his leg and wasn't able to dance and bounce around as he'd wanted. I felt I should maybe do my bouncing behind him so he wasn't tormented by having to gently bop.
Anyway, I digress, J/Geoff and I were stood a couple of people apart when he caught my eye, a few songs into k. d. lang's set. He put the palms of his hands together, put his hands to the side of his head and pretended to sleep. His thoughts matched mine perfectly and I chuckled, the chuckle became a snort, became a full on guffaw. Which transmogrified into an intense coughing fit, which I'm not sure was appreciated by the people around me who appeared to be enjoying Ms Lang. I wasn't really enjoying the songs. I'll admit that she was very funny, her balletic leaps were something I could also achieve, in their non-balletic-ness. However, then she went and did Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. I adore that song, it's so phenomenally beautiful. I've heard it sung by a number of people and it's never anything less than beautiful. She finished off with a hoedown which was just brilliant and I sort of wish that was how her whole set had been.
The evening ended with The Imagined Village. Abso-fuckling-lutely-brilliant. I mean, you get Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy, Sheila Chandra, Billy Bragg, Johnny Kalsi just for starters - it can only get better and better. I believe in total there were 17 on stage and added to that a huge video screen. At some point an idiotic woman shouted something along the lines of "Shut the hell up and sing us a song", she could be heard whining that the video was shit or suchlike. Then speaking to someone immediately in front of me she yelled "I'm sick of this wank, I'm leaving". I bit my lip and resisted the urge to trip her on the way out.
I fucking love this: