Tag Archives: autumn reflections

Stories from The Odyssey

The Odyssey - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Back in the day I was a total charity shop/vintage lover bandit. I adored a good old rummage through the myriad shops in Rochester and had some fantastic vintage hauls indeed. 

My tastes have changed somewhat in the intervening years, and to be perfectly honest I got a little tired of seeing the same-old-same-old. As soon as my purse allowed, I stopped shopping there quite so much, moving much more to online shopping. 

I was recently reminded of the joys of ‘thrifting’, when last week I was compelled to visit our local Oxfam after lunch with Mr H. I stumbled across this lovely version of classic Greek myth The Odyssey. I happen to be teaching it to my class at the moment, but there is also something I’ve found personally quite fascinating about Greek Mythology, so I snapped up this lovely copy, for a mere £2.49. 

It’s now sitting on my bedside table, waiting for me to jump aboard and join in with its adventures. Roll on these Autumn evenings and early nights I say!

Jump Forward, Spring Back

Spring in Rochester Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The sun is shining most days now, here in Rochester, and it’s good for my soul. I’m still rugged up with my slippers on inside, but there’s sunlight streaming through the blinds in our bay window, warming my face as I write.

A lot of English people like Autumn the most, probably for the sublime colours of the season, and the permission we grant ourselves to rug up before walking outside. Whereas with Spring, we’re all pretending Summer is on her merry way, so the unwritten, unmentioned rule is that coats are banished to the back of the cupboard.

There’s something about the in-between seasons, Spring and Autumn, that are really quite special.

It’s an in-between season for me too, professionally. I’m about to start teaching tomorrow, and although I have some last minute preparation to finalise, today is a pause, a breath before the madness of returning to regular, outside-the-home work.

I’ve enjoyed being at home. I’ve enjoyed the way Loki, the slightly more ferocious of our two cats, jumps on my lap and naps with me while I work in the study. I like to hear the cheekily hopeful bell attached to the collar of next door’s cat, as he comes into our house for food, only to quickly escape once he sees me here. I’ve enjoyed being able to take my time with things, and to see there’s a rhythm to each day, even when there’s no plan.

Life changes with the seasons, and the seasons seem to change with life.

Ignite. Create. Discuss.

Photos by Tracy Affleck of The Rochester Flea

I’ve fallen a bit back in love with blogs recently, reading and finding new ones whenever I can. But this hasn’t necessarily translated into me writing a lot more. In fact, almost the opposite is true – I feel as though I’ve got nothing to say.

What I need is some direction, and a little bit of the focus that was a key part of the Box of Crayons Great Work MBA e-conference, which aired recently. As I seem to be in an information-devouring mood at the moment, I’ve done what any self respecting self improvement junkie would do, and signed up for every blogging and photography e-course I could get my grubby hands on. It’s intense, and I don’t work on them every evening, but I’m definitely learning things. I’m focussing on this one by A Beautiful Mess.

I’m in the middle of a longer than expected re-brand of my bespoke bunting business’ website, and so have been lusting over great photography that I’ve seen on other craft websites. I did a shoot with the lovely Tracy Affleck of some of our bunting, the spoils of which can be seen above, and when you get real photos done it’s amazing how different (and how much better!) they look.  Natural and restful, not amateur and filled with bits of everyday clutter poking in.

I’m not at the stage where I’ll have a fantastically designed blog and perfect photos. I want to get a bit closer to that soon, but my gut tells me I need to work on my content a little better.

Enter ‘Ignite. Create. Discuss’

Three words I’m  tossing around at the moment, and I’m deciding whether they’re the three words that really sum up what I want to happen on my blog. I want to have a place to be inspired and to express what has ignited my mind’s appetite. I want to be able to share my creativity and talk about the creativity of people I know, and some I don’t!

But it’s the discuss part I’m keenest to work on. I want to use my blog to open up a new little area of the internet where I can share what’s in my mind, and to be able to feed back to others. I want to develop an audience for the things I say, but what I would love more would be to be able to develop an online (or offline for that matter!) dialogue about the things that matter to me.

I’m working on it.

Coffee, Fleas and Nancy Mitford

Here we are again, once more into the darkness my friend (read: it’s a bit bloody wintery in my neck of the woods). But cold outside equals warm inside, which is all well and good when you don’t have to go to work of a morning, but rather intensely pants when it’s Monday morning and work is imminent. As it is, now. Urngh.

DOWN:

Monday mornings. The less said there the better, I think.

The ever expanding waistline. I’ve been saying to myself for weeks ‘I really should do something about this”, and yet, when crunch time comes (when I’m presented with crackers and a tub of red pepper hummus) I fail, time and time again. My downfall was made of hummus, and it was delicious.

I have attempted to give up food that tastes good, and caffeine. Have possibly never regretted anything more in my young life. Side effects are worse than expected, namely my attention span has contracted to a period of about four secon…
I was raised by parents who didn’t do caffeine or alcohol until I was a teenager (go figure) and so I have an inherent crisis when it comes to caffeine as the hippies in my head keep telling me I shouldn’t be addicted to anything. Longevity of caffeine reduction yet to be established.

My house was recently the charming home to a flea infestation. How this managed to occur, I do not know, however it has resulted in my caffeine-deprived mood getting increasingly worse, and I have very itchy ankles all the time. I may or may not have drawn blood in a scratchy rage. Just what the little bastards wanted all along. I admit defeat.

UP:

I’m not entirely sure that I’ve revealed the birthday gift to end all birthday gifts! Behold:

Why yes, that is a KitchenAid mixer. Why yes, I have swooned after one for the last ten years. I confess I have been thoroughly spoiled by this gift and it will take me about six years to pay off my karma debt, from having had such ridiculous good fortune to have been given this. I have used it already, and made several batches of below-par bread. I give you:
There is no evidence of the second batch of fruit bread, and so you shall just have to imagine it. In all it’s overly yeasty goodness.
I found a copy of Love From Nancy: The Letters of Nancy Mitford in Oxfam for a deeply purchasable £2.99. Huzzah, the Mitford obsession continues! I am rather a bit too excited to go to bed now, just so I can read it. It’s a tough choice between Nancy and Downton Abbey, but after the recent disappointment in Downton following the shit rape storyline (more on that later), I think Nance is the way to go.
Autumn means cardigans and tights and that clearly means I am able to cease the ritual leg shaving until next year. Huzzah. To be perfectly honest, I’m generally a bit slack in the depilatory department but at least now I don’t have to feel even remotely embarrassed. It’s for heat retaining purposes. As you may know, I am also a huge fan of a regular cardigan, and so commence the knitwear binge!

 

Smart Like a Fox

Well evidently my return to “daily” blogging has been something of a failure. Or rather a total failure, at that. Ho hum. I might review this decision and amend it to be more of a weekly blogging sort of affair. I trust you won’t mind.

Onwards then!

DOWN:
Last night as I was putting some of the dreaded laundry on, the enormous box of washing powder collapsed (due to sogginess as a result of the non stop torrential rain we’ve been experiencing in Kent), sending a soap based avalanche cascading down my body. Bear in mind that this was at about six pm and therefore it was pitch black in our outside laundry, and secondly that the only thing I hate more than laundry is sweeping. What a bore.

The programme of extreme eating I have undertaken over the last two weeks  has resulted in significant difficulty getting into what were already slightly too small jeans. This is a problem.

I have a lot of work to do and find myself stuck in holiday mode and unable to get the proverbial arse into gear and bloody well do it! I’m irritating myself, let alone the people I have promised this work to. Ugh. On with the procrasti-blogging then…

UP:
It is definitely Autumn. I love this season and can even deal with the sudden bouffant-ness that my hair takes on from the rain. To make things even better, I am now the proud owner of three new pairs of socks , two of which have foxes on them. Exhibit A:

What’s not to like? The BF can relax too, as he can now reclaim the socks of his I’ve been keeping hostage for several months now.
There is a cat sleeping right next to me, and a moment ago it was snoring. That’s a bonafide high point of any day that ever was.
I am making sushi tonight with a clueless, but nonetheless enthusiastic boyfriend. It bodes well.
What’s your high and low point?

 

Krak up in Krakow

 
Mmm lard on toast. Get it in ya.
You shall all be thrilled to hear I have returned from my travels to the depths of Krakow, Poland, and have many a story to tell. However, before I relay my tales of the far east, I’ve decided to return to regular and daily blogging via a challenge shamelessly stolen from my favourite blog, Belgian Waffle.
By way of introduction, each post for the next month will be a summary of my (positively thrilling) thoughts through the medium of Down/Up. So, without further ado, mesdames et monsieurs, I present: Krakow.
DOWN:
I cannot speak a word of Polish. Nay I tell a lie, I can say dziekuje which I am told means ‘thank you’. My only means for remembering this over the period of my four day stay was to give myself a semi permanent tattoo of ballpoint ink on my arm spelling the damn word out phonetically. I still got it wrong.
I appear to have gained about eleventy kilos and am reaping the rewards of the traditionally heavy Polish food. That is to say, there is no need to fear my getting remotely cold this winter, as I have many layers to protect my vital organs, and more to the point even the non vital organs are rather cosy following my carb binge.
Auschwitz and the Ghetto. Not much to add to this conversation already, except for holy hell they were bad times for humanity. I loves me the vintage times, and as we are all aware I am rather fond of pretending to be a cabaret singer but I have absolutely no regrets about living in the twentieth century.
UP:
It is now possible and wholly appropriate to inform you that I have done karaoke in Krakow. Say that out ten times quickly, it’s the best. Not only that but I have embodied both Dolly Parton and Stevie Nicks in Krakow. Say no more.
 
I now know the joys of my Motherland, which will please the Father no end. I felt a familiar swell of patriotism when visiting Wawel Castle and hearing of how the identity of Poland has remained despite being battered from pillar to post over several hundred years.
I am also now home. Nothing beats going on holiday like coming home and sleeping in your own bed. Heaven.

I’ve Always Depended on the Kindness of Friends

Blurry, but in an artistic way. Right?

A very nice thing happened to me the weekend before last. My friend Natalie gave me that there book. Just Kids, by Patti Smith is an amazing memoir of her time and adventures with Robert Mapplethorpe. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but will report back with an in depth review in the not too distant future.

Anyone who has met me will know that a book is my ideal gift (it keeps on giving), and I was struck that Nat had so easily given me the gift of friendship as well, disguised as a book.

Thanks Nat. I’m glad to know you.

Autumn Reflections

 The last few weeks have been some of the strangest in all my 24 years and I’m still not quite sure how I’m feeling. My grandfather died recently, and whilst not unexpected, it’s been  both a bit of a fundamental shock to the system and something so far away from me that I’m not exactly sure that I am feeling anything yet.

I can’t remember The Last Time I Saw Him. It was at least two years ago, maybe a couple of weeks before I left Australia? I’m not sure. All I can remember now is a series of memories throughout my life where he was there. Like the time he lifted me on top of his shoulders and walked me around my my home town, when he and my Grandma were visiting.

I also remember his EXTREMELY LOUD VOICE. He would do a completely out of the blue shouty thing, if he could see we were about to hurt ourselves. It was more of a shock than hurting ourselves would have been. He’d incorporate it into his laugh as well, so that if he found something humorous it would be a hahah HAHAHAHA! sort of affair.
Deeply unsettling for the young’uns.

I also remember him as someone who had to do things properly. He despaired of me many times, not least when he witnessed my shameful card-shuffling skills. I could see him positively quivering in his seat, longing to snatch them from my incompetent child like hands and deal the round. Card games. I really remember the card games. You had to know the etiquette of playing cards. No touching before the dealer had finished, no bending the cards, and if you showed your hand to your neighbour it was your own damn fault. He made me the pedantic card player I am today.

He also taught me how to write an essay. I was frightened of it, as I’d made a special trip up to Perth to get some wisdom, and lo! it was all over in half an hour. That was surprising. He wasn’t really a surprising person, but I was surprised at the time that he was both so gentle on the teaching front, and didn’t whip out the LOUD voice on me. It was very civilised. I was grateful.

I’m trying to find out what I’m feeling right now, and it doesn’t feel the way I thought grief would feel. He’s just always been there, and now he’s not. He’s left a Max-shaped hole behind him.

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.

I’ve met some wonderful people here. It’s amazing how a day can seem a week and a week can seem a lifetime. In such a short space of time, I have more wonderful friends than ever before. AND I have a room in Munich, Frankfurt, Madrid and London. Not to mention the occasional yurt in Llanidloes.

It’s such a struggle to say goodbye, though. It almost feels timeless here in rural Wales, and having little connection to the whole crazy world, and our “real” lives away from here. When one of us leaves, it makes a hole. New people come, but it’s not the same. It will get better, as the new people become less new. Then the process starts all over again, until you’re the one that’s leaving, the one that’s leaving the hole.

I hope we stay in touch. But if not, we always have that wonderful week where we were anyone we wanted to be.