Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Erm, hello

*sidles in rather shame faced*

Blimey!

I just got hit on the head and realised that I have not updated this blog since Hammertime was in the charts!! You'll never guess what happened.....*thinks furiously* erm, my hands were chopped off and I couldn't blog because I was waiting for my bionic ones to arrive? Nope, your not going to be believing that are you? Ok, I shall just throw myself to the floor *thump* and beg thy forgiveness.....

Truth is that I have been flat out, like a lizard drinking, with all things Uni. I am spending so much time at the computer reading stuff, researching stuff and writing stuff (yep, stuff is the technical term) that by the end of the day I just don't want to spend another minute in front of the computer. Seriously, at the moment I am working on a presentation which will provide an analysis of Thailands HIV/AIDS Policy (which needs to be related back to policy theories...yawn), researching Britian's Policy on Patient and Public Engagement, trying to write a research plan which, in theory, will form the basis for my dissertation next year, coming up with some form of a Questionnaire that needs to be trialled, writing a learning log (yes, another one *sigh*) and outlining how I plan to research a community/topic using secondary data only. Oh, and I am also having to get my dissertation topic agreed (which is proving harder than i had anticipated) and have been advised that my current plan might not be the best way forward but have not been given any guidance on what research methods may be better. Aaaaaarrrrrggggggg!!!

In saying all that...I really must try and make some time to come here so *places hand on heart* I solemnly swear that I will make more of an effort to blog, and visit you lovely lot, more often (that is until I lose the plot completely and the nice men in the white coats come to take me away!)

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Thailand (the 1st bit)

When the lovely Georgina Dollface had a blog break a few weeks ago she decided to keep a list of daily thoughts and observations and then blog about them when she got back. I loved reading them....they gave a great glimpse into her day so I thought I would do the same for our Thai holiday (I won't do it all in one go cause I think both thee and me would lose the will to live!). Soooo, here goes....

Sunday 5th -
We were flying out of Manchester (cause it was easier and cheaper than doing it from London) so after dropping the splats off at the cattery we decided just to make our way up there. We arrived at lunchtime.....the sky was blue, the sun was shining and West Didsbury (the area we used to live) was having a mini festival to celebrate it's independent shops....the entire place was buzzing. We had lunch in our old local, walked past our old house, caught up with a friend who we'd not seen in five years, bought wine from our favourite wine shop (the owner, Kate, organised a champagne tasting for us to help us choose what we were going to have on our wedding day...OMG we had so many different champagnes! I had my first ever proper hangover the next day!) and it reminded me just how much I love the city. We sat outside with a beer reminiscing about our time there....it was a great start to our holiday!

Monday 6th am - (Somewhere between Manchester and Dubai).
I had been dozing in my seat and stretched to get a bit more comfortable. Cool air was blowing on my face but I was nice and warm having wrapped myself up in the blanket that was provided. I opened my eyes and saw the wee lights they have on the roof of the plane twinking away like stars so decided to open the blind and have a peer out the window. The sky was split in two by a band of deep orange....the bottom half was a smokey blue/purple colour.....exactly like the colour of black grapes, above it was the band of deep orange and above that was a cloudless dark blue.....and the best bit.....I could still see a tiny sliver of crescent moon. (I found a pic that looked similar)

Monday 6th pm -
Knocking on the door of Marisa's apartment and seeing it nearly flung off it's hinges as Moon opened it to greet us.

Tuesday 7th -
Meeting my fab friend Jen to go and get our nails done. It was like I had never been away!! (although I really should have remembered that the place we went to put's three coats of nail varnish on...the first was lovely, a kind of caramel brown, the second was not so lovely, they now looked a bit greeny brown, and the last one...well, I ended up with nails that were the colour of manure.....lovely!!).

Wednesday 8th -
Sitting in The Bulls Head playing Mah Jong with the girls. Aircon is whirring in the background and I'm listening to the chatter of the girls and the click of the Mah Jong tiles on the wooden table. I love the feel of the tiles....they are so well worn that they almost feel soft to the touch. My jet lag had well and truely kicked in and I was struggling to work out what hand to play....much to the amusement of Louise!

Thursday 9th -
We got the river boat to Wat Po. I loved the feel of the wind in my hair, the slight spray of water on my face and the thud of the boat as it struggled against the current. I could hear the boatman's whistles as we approached the piers and the answering call of the guard on land. The boat was packed and I was squashed between Chris and Moon as we watched the mixture of sky scrapers and shanty towns go by. We spent three hours meandering round Wat Po. I had forgotten just how magical the place is....and how very large the Buddah is...it has to be one of my favourite places in Bangkok. (You can read more about Wat Po here)

Iron Fairy. Small, dark and very quirky restaurant which does THE best burgers in Bangkok. We went there with our good friends Tim and Elyssa and the evening past in a blur of laughter. (Remind me to tell you about the catfood story.....you gotta hear about the catfood story!)




Friday 10th -
We spent the entire morning at the Grand Palace. It was great to recapture my love of the place which I had kind of lost having been there so many times when we had visitors.

That evening we went to the Robin Hood where we met up with all of Chris's old work colleagues. We started drinking at 4.30 and, not surprisingly, it got a bit messy....culminating in Chris and Marisa having a foot fight (don't ask) back at her apartment.

Ok, I think that is more than enough for now! I'll try and do the next instalment at some point in the next few days.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Thailand musings - observations and things forgotten

Well, we're back...I have a head that feels like it's full of cotton wool and I've picked up the dreaded lurgy somewhere along the way so have a blocked nose, sore throat and am feeling a bit crappy.....I can however, do THE most wonderful impression of 'Balcomb' from the Tunes advert! (Eeek, now I'm showing my age!). Anyhoo, this is not going to be a long post....just a few wee things that struck me about the place I called home for two and a half years....observations and things forgotten


I had forgotten about the weird and wonderful (ha, I say wonderful....) things that the humidity does to my hair! Seriously, I stepped off the plane and almost imediately I felt my hair go 'poof'...instant frizzyness...not a good look!

I had forgotten how Bangkok smells...it's very distinctive and I'm really not sure how to describe it! It's a mixture of heat (a kind of steamy wet smell...the one that you get when the kettle boils or you are making soup) combined with exhaust fumes, the aroma of cooking (think barbecued meat and stir fried chilli), dry fish (you have never smelled anything till you come across dry squid man...well, except durian but they are not in season at the moment!) and drain. It sounds awful but actually, and I don't know why this is, it's kinda wonderful!

The sheer joy of stepping outside at night and feeling the heat on your skin. Some of the restaurants and pubs really crank up the aircon and you can actually feel really quite cold......there is nothing nicer than opening the door and feeling the warm night air hitting your body...particulary your freezing feet!

Oh, talking about feet....Foot massages....simply divine!! We had one after spending two days walking around temples..my tired feet were revived and I could have danced out the shop (I didn't cause that would just have been weird but you know....I could have...if I'd wanted to!)

There were also a few things that made me really sad....

Seeing what was left of Central World after the troubles (For those of you that don't know Cental World is...was...a huge shopping centre in heart of the city that was completely destroyed when the red shirt protesters set fire to it). It has messages of hope written along the side of it but that only made me feel worse cause it's going to take a lot more than that to put the country right!

Another casualty of the troubles was the loss of yellow Mondays. Let me explain, the Thai's have colours for each day of the week and yellow is Monday's colour (it is also the colour of the King cause that was the day he was born). So on a Monday nearly everyone wore yellow shirts.....walking down the street used to be like moving in a sea of yellow but that doesn't happen anymore....I guess it's because it is now associated with which side of the political divide you are on (Red shirt or Yellow). (If your curious about what colour the other days are you can find out here)

The range of goods and the quality of what is available (on the streets that is) has dropped...not surpising really considering the number of tourists has also dropped significantly. The stalls used to pack up about midnight but some were packing up as early as ten on a Saturday night....unheard of when we were still living there!

Still, it was really interesting to see what had changed and what had not changed at all! The Thai hospitality and warmth was still there in abundance, the streets were still bustling (yes, I did still have to jump out the way to avoid getting a motorbike up the jacksie and yes, I was on the pavement at the time) and, I think it is safe to say, it will always hold a very special place in my heart!

I will blog more about our trip when I am feeling a bit more human!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

We're off on our hols (+ Finished Painting)

So won't be around for the next couple of weeks!

I shall leave you with a pic of my finished painting...it was supposed to be Winter in my four seasons series but I think it's going to be too similar to Autumn. Still, I've since had another idea which I think will work better so it's not all doom and gloom (and I quite like how this turned out!)

'See' you when we get back :-)

(Oh, and you can double click on the pic to see it in all it's glory!)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A list of reasons to run for the hills

a list of reasons to run for the hills:

because you've got new boots,
because that last big heist didn't quite go to plan,
because you accidentally unleashed the hordes of darkness,
because you want to know exactly how loud you can sing,
because you can see for miles up there,
because the hound of the Baskervilles is on your tail,
because your middle name is trouble,
because you'll be damned if they catch you again,
because you're convinced you could fight a bear and win but you have to find one first,
because you've forgotten why you ever came down in the first place,

In my last post I mentioned the embroidered picture I had entitled 'A list of reasons to run for the hills' and the lovely Mel said she was curious as to what was on the list so there you have it.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Six Senses

The lovely Fire Byrd did this last week and I loved the idea! I figured since I've been painting away like a wee fiend and not really doing much else I would do a version of my own so here goes...

I can see:
my current work in progress,
my fingers which I have managed to cover in paint,
the photograph we have of Carcassonne where Chris proposed,
an embroidered picture entitled 'a list of reasons to run for the hills',
the sculpture that my Mum bought me for my birthday,
a metal owl,
Lugs who is sitting on my knee,
the sun making patterns on the wooden floor,
and the trees blowing in the wind outside the window.










I can hear:
Gai snoring from the hallway,
rustling leaves,
the wind,
children playing in the garden next door,
someone clattering dishes,
our washing machine spinning faintly in the kitchen,
my computer drive whirring.

I can feel:
the weight of Lugs warm body on my lap,
paint drying on my hand,
the smoothness of the wooden floor,
the sun warming my toes,
a slight breeze coming in the window,
contentment.

I can touch:
Lugs's soft fur brushing across my arm,
the plastic springyness that is my netbooks keyboard keys,
the warmth of my netbook,
the cool of the glass on my drawing table.

I can smell:
the fresh air coming in the window,
acrylic paint,
a hint of glue,
jasmine green tea,
the Issay Miyaki perfume that I put on this morning.

I can taste:
the chicken soup I had for lunch,
the first mouthful I had of my tea.

It's important sometimes to just stop and really appreciate what is going on around us. Feel free to have a go at this if you fancy it....and don't forget to let me know if you do :-)

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Why???

Apparently these are THE thing in Japan at the moment. Nope, the skirts are not see-through... the image is printed onto the fabric to look like they are!


Why?....why would you want to walk around pretending your bum is on display? (God, I hope they don't catch on over here!! *shudders*)

So you know what I think but what about you? Will you be rushing out to buy one?

OMG why???


Monday, 9 August 2010

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (I kid you not!) and Mama's Gun

If you had ever told me that I would use the words 'Ukulele' and 'like' in the same sentence I would have had you carted off to the funny farm before you could say....well, Ukulele...but I find that I am about to do just that! The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain were brilliant...and funny....and yes, I liked them (there I said it....but if you tell anyone I will deny everything!). I have heard the Ukulele played before and it was....how shall I put this....less than pleasant but these guys were amazing. The eight-strong ensemble took songs such as Dy-Na-Mi-Tee, Shaft and Smells Like Teen Spirit and truly made them their own!! Have a wee listen....this is them doing the theme from the film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly....I challenge you not to smile



Mama's Gun's music has been described as retro soul and I think it's a rather splendid and very apt description. They fuse 70s soul with funk and a bloomin great job they do of it too :-). Uncut magazine described last year's debut album, Routes To Riches, as "a masterclass in blue-eyed bubblegum soul, as heart-warmingly catchy as anything from Stevie Wonder's '70s purple patch". I absolutely love them!



I won't bore you with any more music posts but I do have to share this (those with a nervous disposition look away now!). Jo, my lovely sister-in-law, was standing in the queue for the port-a-loo when one of the doors opened a little then closed. Intrigued she watched as the the same thing happened again....then about two seconds later the door burst open and a woman emerged backwards, arms wrapped tightly around a wriggling little boy. As she struggled out of the loo she uttered 'I don't care if you can still see it....your not getting it back'. Yes we laughed....we laughed lots.....

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Soil & "Pimp" Sessions and Imelda May

Ever heard of the term 'death Jazz'? Nope, me neither....well, until I heard the Japanese band Soil & "Pimp" Sessions. I've always liked jazz and I've always liked heavy metal (or the great unwashed as my Mum calls it) but was highly suspcious as to what on earth a merging of these two styles would sound like....I shouldn't have worried....the music that Soil & Pimp produced was out of this world!! Beats that are impossible not to move your body to, trumpets and saxaphones being blown as if the next breath will be their last and a stageshow guaranteed to get the audience going.....don't think you like Jazz? Give these guys a whirl and prepare to have your preconceptions blown all over the place!!



Now if that wasn't your thing how about giving Irish rockabilly singer Imelda May a try. She is totally obsessed with the fifties and rock and roll....her voice is sublime and she uses a bodhran to give her songs an Irish twist. I thought she totally rocked (and I read an interview in which David Bowie agreed....recomendations don't come much higher!)



(PS. We have my Mum visiting at the moment which is why blogging and commenting has been sporadic...normal service will resume next week!)

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

WOMAD and some music recommendations

Well what can I say....it was utterly utterly wonderful!! The weekend started on Thursday night with a Moroccan meal (thought since we were going to be spending the weekend listening to world music we should have something suitably appropriate!) which consisted of an orange, date and almond salad (sounds odd but was really yummy) followed by a lamb and olive tagine, hot chickpeas, mediterranean couscous and salad followed by stem ginger chocolates (I ran out of steam by the time we got to pudding). Chris was working from home on Friday (I think it was just so he could weasle out of putting up the tent...sometimes he really is not as daft as he looks!!) so he dropped Tom, Jo and I at the camp site. Oh dear!! An hour and a half later the tent was still flat as a pancake (honestly, I couldn't believe we had spent so much time fighting with the bloody thing and were still no nearer to having anything that looked even vaguely tent shaped!!) Tom had been hit in the knackers with a tent pole, Jo had been in tears from laughing so much and I had fallen and landed in sheep shit....it was safe to say that we lacked the necessary tent putting up skills!! After Tom had had a jump up and down hissy fit at the tent our lovely tent neighbours came to our rescue....Isabelle (age 11) came over and basically put our tent up for us. We spent an hour and a half and trying to put up a tent that an 11 year old put up in under 30 minutes (oh the shame!!)

Right, moving swifly on.....tent errected we then went a meander round the site....it was amazing!! There were five main stages spread out across the site (and countless smaller ones in the beer tents!), a fairground, a wellbeing area (with a spa and everything!!), a children's activity bit and loads and loads of eateries and stalls (My favourite stall was called Prat in a Hat...and yes, we did see a fair few of those!!). The three day programme was absolutely packed and I loved the fact that you not only had the bands playing but there were dance and music workshops running as well as an area where the bands played more acoustic sets whilst introducing the audience to authentic dishes from their part of the world....it was just phenominal!!

I'm not going to bore you with a blow by blow account (to be honest, I'm so knackered that I don't think I would be able to even if I wanted to!) but I will introduce you to some of my festival highlights!! (I'll do a few posts featuring the different bands otherwise I'm going to be here all day and your going to lose the will to live!!)

The first one has to be Nouvelle Vague!! Utterly brilliant....they take cherished punk and new wave songs and offer their own unique twist on them....think bossa nova and easy listening then apply that style to New Order's Blue Monday, Buzzcocks' Ever Fallen In Love and even The Dead Kennedys' Too Drunk To Fuck. It really shouldn't work but it sooooo does!! Here's one of their songs...what do you think?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Sunshine Award (Come and get it!)


You Are My Sunshine
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away

This award is being passed to all of my followers and to those I follow. There are no rules and regulations so pass it on, keep it on a shelf (just remember to dust it every so often) or pop it in a drawer....I just wanted to let you know that each and every one of you bring a little sunshine into my life :-)

(Thank you Jennifer for passing this lovely award on to me and for those of you that have not yet visited her blog I suggest you do....it's a rather lovely place!)

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

New Painting (For sale)

I know that a number of you have been following my (erm, rather slow) progress on Facebook and have been cheering me on from the sidelines so here is the finished article....

(It's been done using gold leaf and acrylic paint and you can click on the photographs to enlarge it)

Front View

Side View

Bottom View

(It's going into an exhibition tomorrow but I guess if anyone's interested in buying it before then I can put a sold sticker on it)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Me through the ages (Don't laugh!)

Ages ago I was tagged to do a post featuring photographs of me through the ages (Gawd, it was so long ago that I can't even remember who it was that tagged me!!). I've been feeling slightly guilty about not doing it so here it is....better late than never!!
OMG would you look at that hat!! What was my Mum thinking!!Now I'm wearing my Dad's hat...and I appear to be pretty pleased about it too!!
I was a strange child!!Ha, I look fairly normal in this one!
Me when I was a grumpy teenager! Would you look at the mug on that!!
I must have been about 16 in this photo....not sure why I'm attempting to strangle the cat!! He has that 'OMG get me out of here' look on his wee face. Poor wee soul!Erm, me in my late teens after a few glasses of wine! (I would love to say that I'm all sensible now and don't pull those kind of faces after a few drinks but unfortunately I still do!)It's a wonder I don't have super long arms...would you look at how many rings I'm wearing!! (I've no idea where most of the pictures of me in my 20's are so your going to have to put up with these poncy ones that I had done)Another poncy one when I was in my 20's. Actually I quite like this one...doesn't look anything like me...that's probably why I like it!!I was 30 when Chris and I got married. Awww, doesn't he look handsome in his kilt!

Ok, so it's not totally up-to-date since Chris and I have now been married for five years but when I find some recent (and decent) photos I'll post them (Ha, you may be waiting a while!!).

I'm not going to tag anyone but if you do a similar post please let me know so that I can pop over and laugh....erm, I mean come and see your baby photos :-)