Monday, 6 September 2010

Random Rounding Up

Last year I contemplated hacking my fringe off. I neglected to update and say I had done just that, look see:

So here's the thing. I decided I would just go for a just-above-eyebrow length fringe, to start with and work up to a super short one.
So, I concentrated hard to make a straight line.
Then I relaxed my face to see how it looked.
Apparently I'd massively raised my eyebrows in concentration and my fringe? Much shorter than I'd intended.
I spent the rest of the week flattening it down and unconsciously pulling on it.
I'm not sure I'd have cut it so short if not by accident, but I've come to like it. It's makes my face squarer and I just don't care. We care a jot too much about what we should and shouldn't wear, what does and doesn't suit us. What the hell, I'm going to cut my hair any way I jolly well like.

What I didn't foresee was the amount of people stopping me to talk about my hair, some physically grabbing me to say how they liked it. And what surprised me more than anything was the age of the complimenter, the vast percentage being well past retirement age.
I'd wondered if my new, visible, tattoos combined with my bright hair would make people quick to judge me, but that hasn't been the case at all.
Not that I have any idea what people are saying behind my back of course!
But then, I'd have to care about what was being said!

I spent the entirety of August unwell. I got Croup. My younger sister refers to it as my baby disease. There was no recommended treatment for adults, because adults don't get it. Hmph.
Let me tell you, it's a horrible thing. It's like flu, with a cough that is antagonised by every single thing you do. Want to talk? That'll make you cough. Want to sit upright? Why that'll make you cough too. Want to buy milk in the shop? Yup, that'll make you cough. Not just any kind of cough, the one that makes people threaten to call the Sea Lion rescue centre. The kind that makes your ribs feel like they'll explode. Couple that with the extreme fatigue and it's just wonderful. I kept saying that I was sure I'd be fine, whilst all the time thinking it was the most unwell I could remember feeling for years and years.

Prior to the miserable croup I was at Cambridge Folk Festival, which was super this year. I had a wonderful time, the croup made its appearance on the Sunday evening, I was aware I was starting to feel unwell but made it to the end and dutifully sang along with Show of Hands as the closing act. Actually, I would like to thank the croup for waiting until after the festival to put in an appearance.
Anyway, despite a little rain, I really had a fabulous festival indeed, come along next year, all of you, I'll befriend you!

In other news, I'm getting an allotment. Oh yes. I rang the lady, I should have my plot of land in a matter of months.
She told me the plot is approximately 40m by 10m.
Well put me down for half a plot says I!
Then I go away and think about it, suddenly 20m by 10m starts to sound smaller and smaller.
If I had a full plot I could have a dedicated asparagus bed, and a globe artichoke bed, room for masses of my beloved peas, a polytunnel!
I rang back, please make it a full plot dear lady!
Because I have OCD I have created a scale plan of the area.
Holy hell 40m by 10m is a big space. What the hell was I thinking?
Digging anyone?

I have decided to do an Open University Degree, with Honours no less.
It came about after reading a lot different blogs online, reading peoples ideas, their opinions and realising that I really needed to go back to learning, that I needed something extra in my life and that maybe, for the first time I can ever remember, I really wanted to study.
I wanted to learn more about Feminism.
My attitude towards myself and my environment has altered so dramatically over the past couple of years that I wanted to add more fuel to that, to the discovery.
After some trawling through prospectus after prospectus, I'm going to do an Open Degree, I like the freedom that gives me. I can study some Social Sciences, some Criminology and Psychology, do some Environmental Studies and also try to take on some of the History courses over the years.
I wonder if my long held love of folk music and my growing interest in the English tradition has led to my desire to learn more about England and our/my heritage.
It's exciting and it's nerve racking.
I hated school. With the exception of seeing my friends, there was nothing about it I enjoyed.
I had this overwhelming feeling of not fitting in. I knew there was something a bit weird about me, I knew I had desires veering towards the eccentric, but I didn't know anyone else like that and I caved to peer pressure. I did my GCSEs, and despite zero revision, I did pretty well. Then, as all my friends were doing it, I progressed to A Levels. I didn't want to, but my paralysing terror of the big wide world was worse. I didn't revise for my A Levels either and fluffed one of them totally. My friends were heading to University. I really didn't want to go to Uni but what the hell was I supposed to do? I didn't want to work either. Not through laziness, but through fear of all those new people to meet.
I look back now and see the social anxiety but back then I just knew I had to do everything I could to avoid actually getting out there.

So I went to night school to get a different A Level, and after that, then I would go to Uni.
It goes without saying I fluffed the night school A Level too. I hated the topic.
Suddenly, all choices were gone. Work was looming. I had to get a job.
I did. And you know what? It wasn't nearly as bad as I'd imagined, not only that, I made new friends and whilst the job was crappy, I had fun!
I'm never studying again I thought to myself.
I've always said I'm just not academic. I'm just not made that way. I'm not good at essays. I can't write that way.

But now? I just think that nothing piqued my curiosity, I wasn't actually interested in learning. I couldn't find subjects that I was passionate about. It's taken almost 2 decades but I've found the things that pique my curiosity. I've found the passion for learning.

I think it all started with my discovery of the Body/Size/Fat Acceptance movement. Reading what those ladies had to say was inspiring. It challenged my beliefs, it made me challenge things generally. As an intelligent woman I'm almost surprised at how willing I was to just believe everything I heard & read as the truth.
Then the feminism started to creep in and my desire to read more grew and grew. I feel like my eyes are opening wider and wider day after day. I feel like there are people out there with whom I share a common ground. That maybe they didn't fit in either all this time.

It feels like a time of discovery is on my horizon.

Thursday, 8 July 2010


I was never much of a gardener, really didn't like getting my hands dirty, couldn't really care less what the names were and whether they were annual, biennial, blah blah blah.
And yet, somehow it happened, without my knowledge, I love being out there. I wonder if, as the child of a gardener the love of it will somehow kick in.
I don't like to wear gloves, I want to get my hands buried deep in the dirt. I've read that it's supposed to be good for mental health and I second that study. Watching something grow, getting the jolt of excitement when something you planted finally sticks those first leaves through the soil it just makes you feel....good.
I only have a small garden, so as time goes by it becomes more and more planned. It has to be functional. It has to be pretty. It has to feed me.
With my newly purchased fire pit, bench, swing seat and picnic bench it serves as an entertaining space, somewhere to relax, somewhere to read, somewhere to just be.
The lupins, paeony, poppies, tulips, lavender, lillies, pansies, daisies, day lillies, gladioli and all their friends make it a colourful place to be, it makes me smile to see all those colours. And, interspersed in the flower borders are the leaves of the beetroot, kohlrabi, the fronds of the asparagus which are voraciously proving me wrong when I said they'd never grow.
The Jerusalem (f)artichokes are moving ever skywards looking more and more like their cousins the sunflower.

I always put off watering the garden, it's a chore, trailing back & forth from butt to pots but every time I start watering I get lost in it. I stand for that short time, studying each plant as the water pours forth.

How many more little red flower buds there are on the runner beans today, the very first, tiny flowers have appeared on my asparagus pea, how the lettuces are starting to bolt in the hot summer that has blessed us this year.
In my small space I've managed to fit a surprising amount of vegetables, without it looking like an allotment.

I love lists, even though they're boring to everyone else, but check this out:
Alpine Strawberries
Asparagus Pea
Beetroot - 4 varieties, 1 specifically for harvest as a salad leaf
Broad Beans
Butternut Squash
Carrots - 3 varieties
Globe Artichoke
Jerusalem Artichoke
Lettuce - hearting varieties, cut and come again, oriental.....
Peas - 2 varieties
Pea Tips - to harvest for use in salads
Potatoes - 1st & 2nd earlies
Pot Marigolds - to harvest the petals for use in salad
Radish - 3 varieties
Red Perilla
Runner Beans

Swiss Chard - 2 varieties

Outside my front door, along the drive there's mint, rosemary, sorrel, thyme, tarragon, sage, lemon balm, applemint, oregano, chives, fennel, dill, red orach and parsley. In the conservatory my cucumbers and tomatoes, yet I still find myself wondering how I can fit more harvestable produce in the garden! I'm adding more and more edible flowers. From the day lily to the lavender to the pot marigold. This year will bring raspberries and blackcurrants.

All of this is fitted into a pretty small space, as made obvious by the duck squatter photos below, and yet through the summer it is enough to give me a salad at least once a day.
Above all, it's easy, it takes almost no time to maintain, and in truth took very little time to get it planted, it gives me so much pleasure that I can't even begin to take it for granted.

Get out there, dig in the soil, relish it getting under your fingernails!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Duck Squatters

Sometime last week, seven of the village ducks decided to pop by for a visit, the following day they were back again, and the day after that and after that. You get the idea. So, somewhere between 4 and 5pm every day they'd show up, quacking away and I'd try and find some remaining bird seed to feed them with.

This morning I was out relatively early getting everything watered before another hot day set in and the ducks arrived, before 8am. Definitely ahead of schedule!
It is now almost 1.30pm and they're still here.
I just popped down the garden and there they are, a couple hiding in the shade under the picnic bench.
And the others were hiding in the shade of the swing seat, until they saw me and assumed grub was coming their way. Alas, they were wrong.
However, I had just tweeted that I felt guilty for not having a pond, so I decided to improvise. Plus I figured, they had to be thirsty by now. It's a hot day out there people!

The seven ducks are Mum and her six ducklings, it's getting harder and harder to tell them apart, but Mum is a little more slow to get involved, she likes to keep her beady eye on me.
Anyway, they don't seem to mind that it's a poor excuse for a pond, they jumped on in, although it's strictly only 2 ducks at a time in the pool.

They have made attempts to disobey this rule, but attempts are usually scuppered when one falls out head first into the grass. Which, it has to be said, has yet to fail to entertain me!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Song of The Week LXV

Whilst listening to a few weeks ago this song was played and it just struck me as incredibly beautiful. I'm sure that it strikes chords with more than a few of us.
It feels like an incredibly brave song to me, I have no idea if it's autobiographical or not, but either way it's fabulous.

Maria Mena - Sorry:

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


I was discussing with someone the kinds of laugh we all have, from the polite chuckle to the full belly laugh that you can't hold back until it takes on a life of its own and which you are powerless to stop.
In discussing that I was reminded of a couple of incidents and as I'm getting back to my blog world I had to come back with a chuckle or two.

A few weeks ago my niece, Chloe, and I decided to have a picnic. We couldn't decide where to go but eventually opted to chill out by the river at Newark Castle which also meant a quick trip for delicious goods from Waitrose. So we picked up some goodies, laid down a blanket and munched.
After a while, upon realising I was the second oldest person in the entire park I thought about jumping into the river to end it all but my fear of water saved me. Then Chloe realised that made her the third oldest.
At this point the snort of laughter was released.
After a couple of hours of lounging we got ready to head home, gathered up our food remnants and started to pick up the blanket. That was when we noticed it.
A piece of chocolate cake, or rather the mousse part of a very delicious slice of chocolate & raspberry cake.

But this piece. It didn't look like cake.
It looked like someone had taken a tiny, perfectly formed poo in the corner of our blanket.
Chloe and I made eye contact, looking from each other to the chocolate poo.
We knew it had to be moved.
Laughter ensued.
The blanket could not be folded with chocopoo in the corner.
I started to head towards what can only be described as the donkey laugh.

I found a tissue and reached for the chocopoo.
I didn't get it all, now it looked like a really sticky chocopoo.
At this point the laughter had reached hysterical.
There were tears.
There was pain.
There was a serious inability to breathe.
And a serious concern about bladder control.
And the donkey laugh was full blown. Eeyore on ecstasy.
Snorting. Squeaking. Squealing.
Desperately trying not to draw even more attention to ourselves. Although it might have been too late for that.

I cannot even begin to think of chocopoo without the giggles setting right back in.

Getting Back To It

So, it's been a long old time. Hello!
Losing Mifford really sent me into a funk, you know I went day to day in my jolly mode but something really left me when she did.
It's months later, I've just celebrated a birthday and it's time to get back into it.

First things first, an introduction.
This is Kini:

She came to live with me some months ago. I'd quite decided that I wouldn't have another cat, but the empty house proved too much. Then out of the blue I heard that a little cat was looking for a new home. I went to meet her, she was incredibly timid, quite the opposite of Mifford so I wasn't sure what to expect.
On her first night here I lost her, I knew she was in the house but she seemed to have just vanished, I eventually located her holed up behind the computer in a space about half her size.
Over the months she's changed considerably, she's shy around new people but the difference is tremendous. From hiding under the bed any time anyone even breathed in a different way she now wants to investigate every new person that comes round. She still refuses to leave the house but will always be found sitting in the window chattering away at the birds.
She has started to miaow and is quite vocal about her opinions on various things!

Her previous owners had named her Sacha and I hadn't really liked the name, but didn't have any new names in mind. She's black all over apart from a white neckerchief and a white bikini and thus Kini she became. Although her nickname is Pigeon. I have no idea why. Just as I have no idea why I called Mifford, Poodle. I'm just odd.

I've spent a lot of time in the garden of late too, I grow a lot of my own veg so I've been getting that going and also trying to make it look tidier. There was this one corner which was always dreadful, where my swing seat sits and where some of my beans & peas are growing. It was a nightmare to mow so I decided to take up the turf and lay bark chips with this result:

Feel free to come on over and chill out with me out there, once the cushions are in place you can lose hours just gently swinging, plus, the fire pit I ordered for my birthday arrived yesterday so we can even spend the cooler evenings swinging away. I'll light the lanterns, fire up the barbeque and it'll be spot on!

Monday, 25 January 2010


At 9am on December 12th 2009 my cat Mifford passed away.
I'd known for a week that she wasn't well, I put her in her carry box and headed to the vet.

When he asked me what was wrong I said she just wasn't right. He asked what I meant and I said she hadn't come to bed. It's something that sounds so silly, but in the years I had Mifford I could count on one hand the amount of times she didn't come to bed.

She was my shadow. Where I went, she went. From room to room, from house to garden.
I just knew in my heart she wasn't well and I knew that it wasn't good.

The vet examined her, couldn't find anything really wrong, gave her a shot of steroids and sent us on our way. We were back two days later, she wasn't eating, she wasn't moving but the only course of treatment would be the injection she'd already had and that had made no difference. I took her home, I made tuna smoothies, I made sardine smoothies, I can't tell you how terrible these things smell, but nothing induced her to eat. I brought her glasses of water to the sofa so she didn't have to get up.

I spent Friday night sleeping curled up alongside her on the sofa. I knew time was short and I couldn't bear to spend a moment away from her. It was the worst sleep I've ever had and I wouldn't change a minute.

We went back on the Saturday. We can operate he said, but if I open her up and there's something bad in there, I won't wake her up again. We could put her on a drip but I don't think that's fair he said. I can send you home with a syringe to force feed her he said, but for me, that just wasn't an option. If she didn't want to eat, what business was it of mine to force her to do so?
Which left only one option. I wasn't going to be going home with Mifford. I knew it was the right choice for her. I knew that any decision I made that wasn't euthanasia would be purely selfish and unfair on her. I knew in my heart she was ready.

When I had to make the same decision for first Smudge and then Lightning, years ago it was horrible. I can tell you these are the three hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my life.

I went home alone and my heart was broken.

Her things were everywhere, her favourite catnip pillows, the little mice she batted around the lounge. Her bottle tops that were chased up and down the stairs, then left to attempt to kill me.

I could do nothing but lay on my sofa and cry.

My best friend, my very best friend was gone.
I used to walk in my front door and know she'd missed me.
To anyone that hasn't had pets, that doesn't understand the connection you have with your animals, it's impossible to comprehend the grief and loss you feel. This is not just an animal. They're your family, your companion, your friend and your confidante. They don't judge you, they accept you any which way, they don't care if you're dressed up to the nines or in your sweats, they want to cuddle with you every day of the week and they never hold a grudge if you've been in a bad mood. They don't fight you for the remote, they don't mind what you watch on tv, they don't care if you cry over a silly movie and they don't want you to do anything but make sure there's food in their bowl, water right next to it and fresh litter in the tray, but mostly they just want to be loved and in return they'll love you right back.
I loved the way she laid down in the street and showed every passer by her tummy, demanding that they stroke her as she rolled back and forth.
I loved how she would wrap her front legs around her favourite catnip cushion and fall asleep.
I loved waking up in the morning and finding her face just inches from mine waiting for my eyes to open.
I loved the way she chased me round the bed every time I changed the sheets or made the bed, running from corner to corner.
I loved that she would run to the door every time I walked in, miaowing the loudest hello she could muster.
I loved that if I was away all day, or maybe a couple of days she wouldn't leave me alone, that I'd have to pick her up and carry her around just so she would calm down.
I loved how she had to be able to see me, so when I had a bath she had her own chair to curl up on so she would be comfortable right next to me.
I loved how she demanded that every single person through my front door acknowledge her, refusing to leave them be until they had greeted her.
I loved that she knew Friday was the day she got her special food, it was treat day.
I loved that she took every opportunity to cuddle up with me.
I loved how she made me laugh.
I loved how she loved me.

I miss her every single day.