Wednesday, December 05, 2007


So a while back I decided I needed a change of scenery, a move to somewhere more me. It's taken me a while but I've finally got around to it. I'm leaving the lovely blogger for wordpress and my very own domain. From today I'll be over here. Or if you're really lazy and just want to pick up the feed from Feedburner, you can get that here. It's definitely a work in progress at the moment, I'm battling with PHP, plugins and widgets galore, but I like it. So come have a look, there's no point in hanging out here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I sat down to start writing this post about half an hour ago, but my chores got the better of me. There was a pile of washing in the basket, washing up covering the kitchen tops, but I'll be honest and admit that I did try to ignore them, again. Fortunately though, they niggled and niggled and got the better of me, so I now have the distant hum and chug of the dishwasher and washing machine in tandem. Of course, I'm still ignoring the rest of the kitchen that needs cleaning - but hey I can't do everything!

I have to make time to post about the Brighton Web Awards, which took place last Thursday. I would have posted sooner, but the hangover took a while to recover from. Friday was extraordinarily painful!

I admit, I went along convinced that I wouldn't win. When asked if I had a speech prepared, I said "no, there's no need!" So I sat down with the chaps from Future Platforms, drank some champagne and prepared my hands for clapping. By the time that Best Blog came around I realised I was starting to feel ever so slightly nervous, there was this page up on the big screen and a room full of people looking at it. The nerves continued as we listened to a presentation from Spannerworks before the winner was finally announced. And there was my blog, back on the screen. Did that mean I'd won? Yes, it did. And suddenly the room seemed a lot bigger and the walk onto the stage a lot longer than I'd expected. I came back to my seat, grinning from ear to ear, quite astounded at how the evening was turning out. Pleased as punch mind!

Of course, more champagne was opened, and drunk (much quicker than I realised - must have been those nerves catching up with me) and the remainder of the awards seemed to fly by. Now it was time for the dolphin race (courtesy of FP and their fab designer Bryan Reiger) - who was going to win Best Website of the Awards? Well my little green dolphin swam on, thanks to all the wonderful friends I had with their nifty texting fingers. Two awards in one night! No wonder I felt the need to celebrate!

It was a fantastic night, thanks to everyone who voted for me, you're all wonderful people! And congrats to all the other winners - I do hope your hangovers were less painful than mine!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Flash on the Beach so far

Day two of Flash on the Beach and I think I can safely say that the thing I've found the most interesting are the fantastic works of art that I've seen at the close of each day.

Yesterday was Joshua Davis, New York based Graphic Designer who creates beautiful pieces of art using Flash. Not only is Josh a very funny chap, he's also wonderfully enthusiastic about his work. Bringing the stage alive, he took us through the processes he uses to create his work. I love the fact that each piece is different, and that Josh has no idea what the program will turn out next. What are you producing? "I don't know." What will it look like? "I don't know".

Today's goosebumps were created by Robert Hodgin, who uses Processing to create the most amazing visuals. I think rather than explaining it you should check out Robert's Vimeo page - I recommend the magnetosphere, it is truely beautiful.

On a separate note, wellieswithwings has been shortlisted for the Brighton & Hove Web Awards. If you feel this blog worthy, do feel free to vote for me.

Friday, November 02, 2007

cider, and a distinct lack of zombies

Tuesday night was cider night, the Geek Cider Night in fact, at the Regency Town House. I'm a bit of a fan of the appley goodness and there's nothing quite like hanging out in best, if only part finished, venue in Brighton so I signed myself up and taxied over to learn more and of course partake of said goodness.

Jim took us through the history (I was rather surprised to find out that peasants had actually been paid in cider - happy if slightly sozzled workers!) to the making, both traditional and modern, before we tucked in to a range from dry to sweet. Middle Farm provided us with nine of the best, which we steadily (at least at first) worked through, noting our favourites along the way.

It was a really enjoyable evening, though I am quite surprised that I managed to wake up without a hangover.

I did wake up with germs though. Germs which meant I had to miss the Crawl of the Dead, something which I admit I'm still urked by. I was really looking forward to zombie-ing up and slowly staggering through the streets of Brighton with my fellow zombies; swarming into pubs and generally chasing after braaaiiiins for the night. I know all those who went had a fantastic time, so I'm determind to make it next year, latex scars and all. There are plenty of photos of the night, for those of you keen to see what a swarm of zombies looks like. I suppose it could be handy, just in case you ever come across one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Slava's Snow Show

Yesterday evening I went along to the Theatre Royal to see Slava's Snow Show. I'd never heard of the show until tickets were bought months back. To be honest I didn't think about it all that much, it was just a show about clowns. That is until recently when I mentioned it a couple of times to various people. Eyes lit up, there were cries of "oh, that's an amazing show!" or "I went two evenings last year, I'm going to try for three this year!" OK, I thought, so it's rather popular then.

I suspect that was my biggest understatement for a while now. I've never seen the Theatre Royal so full of people (although I admit I don't do panto which may well be extraordinarily popular for all I know). I was a little bemused by the quantity of white ticker tape on the floor, but was sure all would be explained shortly. Not only was it explained, it fell in abundance throughout the show and left me finding bits in my clothes until I got home. That's the kind of snow I like.

It became apparent as soon as the lights dropped and the music started that this was going to be something a little out of the ordinary. The colours are simply amazing, almost blindingly bright against the dark night background. Clowns come on, clowns go off, clowns chase each other, shoot each other with bow and arrows, soak certain members of the audience in water, climb over seats or along the edge of the circle high above the stalls. From the perfectly executed first half, we sink into further involvement on our return from the interval. Clowns are slowly working their way through the audience, falling on elderly ladies, stealing younger ladies and dragging them off stage. It is organised chaos and it is beautiful.

There is the elaborate balanced with the simple, longer stories balanced with fleeting sketches which last seconds yet make the audience burst into laughter. The barriers between audience and clowns are fully broken down at the end, when giant inflated balls are passed back and forth across the theatre. I did feel rather like an ant playing with a beach ball, although it did have the advantage of drying me off from my soaking earlier.

Watching the show is like seeing a fairy story played out before your eyes, a truly magical experience. Amusingly the second clown reminded me of my lovely friend Pete, who is also going to see the show this week. Unfortunately he is terrified of clowns, which I suspect may put a bit of a dampener on his evening, lets hope he manages to come out from hiding behind his hands for long enough to enjoy it.

The only thing I can say is Go See This Show! You will love it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


So to Picnic07 in lovely Amsterdam. I spent three days immersing myself in everything from social networking, to film credits, to ubiquitous computing and I let my brain fill with interesting stuff, much like a sponge fills with water. It was brain filling by osmosis, and it was great!

I want to jot down some of my notes from the talks that really stand out for me, though be warned they're quite rough.

Jonathan Harris; Creative Genius (wefeelfine).

A partial view is more interesting than a whole. He became interested in studying the footprints of other people's lives, and started writing code to understand this.

wefeelfine: the way something behaves physically should represent the emotion behind it. Any link can be saved, and all saved links are added to the archive - creators are archivists.

The most common feeling represented is "better", out of around 4000 - 5000 emotions/feelings collected. The site is dominated by people in their 20's. This is passive observation, those posting do not know they're being watched.

The Whale Hunt Project - Jonathan wanted to subject himself to the same rules as he would a project. Set out to take a photograph every five minutes throughout the experience, even when sleeping. When exciting things happened, he would quicken the pace and therefore match the changing pace of his heartbeat. This led to 3214 photographs over 7 days.

The second objective was to experiment with a new interface for storytelling: taking the experience, documenting, attaching metadata to each document, then creating a framework to unearth other narrative angles.

This project isn't live yet, but should be in a couple of months.

David Weinberger: Everything is Miscellaneous

There is more porn, love, hate, utter foolishness, more amateurs and more experts on the internet. The task is to find more of value, of what is of interest and important to us.

Now we are digitising everything, we loose the authority that comes with the limitations of paper. In the first order, you archive things yourself. In the second you physically separate the metadata, whilst in the third everything is digital - the order is digital and the information about the order is digital.

There are four principles of change:

1. Leaf on many branches
2. Messiness is a virtue - each link adds value
3. There is no difference between data and metadata. Metadata is what you know, data is what you're looking for. If everything is metadata, our species just got way smarter.
4. Unowned order - online users own and control the organisation.

It's more expensive to exclude than include - we can't predict what other people are going to be interested in. Instead we can postpone the moment that we organise until the very moment we want to use the information. It's an additive process, not an exclusive one - by letting information go you're allowing it to accrue interest - Metabusiness.

We externalise meaning with the web, we do it every time we use tags. The web was built to solve the problems of messiness, it is about finding what happens to us and why it happens.

Stefan Sagmeister: Things I Have Learnt In My Life So Far

Did some work with truemajority - funded by big business to highlight the amount spent on the war with Iraq.

"Then we got really ambitious and went blimp shopping".

Stefan took an experimental year out in 2000. He found unavailability created desire, and also created freer briefs from clients, "do something". "Everything I do always comes back to me", "Trying to look good limits my life", "Everybody always thinks they are right", "Starting a charity is surprisingly easy". As this went along, the clients became freer and freer with their briefs, resulting in "do anything". "Keeping a diary supports personal development".

Adam Greenfield: The City Is Here For You To Use

Urban form and experience in the age of ambient informatics. How Adam became an urbanist: Jane Jacobs, Christopher Alexander, Bernard Rudofsky. They gave luminosity and a concern about life on the street.

Streets are no longer a space outside houses that we can use, they are now a throughway for cars etc. People's worry about cars, traffic, over-planning. We've managed to kill the street (although not in cities like Amsterdam which are still very much alive).

We have a repeating module of doom - branches of chain stores/restaurants repeating down each street. They take from the neighbourhood but don't give anything back. Malls created persistent alienation and displacement.

The conventional humanist response is that ambient communication doesn't do us any favours either (e.g. ipod's, mobiles). We surround ourselves with information rather than relating to our surroundings. It's a vicious circle - we've lost something.

But - "nostalgia is for suckers"! Ubiquitous computing is the way forward. "Everywhere" means that information systems are embedded in the environment, wireless, imperceptible, post-GUI. And information processes are showing up in new places, particularly at the body, street and city level (e.g. the Nike plus ipod kit). Information about our cities in being made available locally so that we can act upon it (e.g. wifi hotspots). this will profoundly influence, at a very simple level, how we make choices within the city we live in.

The bottom line is: a city responds to the behaviour of it's residents and users, in real time. "The city is the platform".

There are inevitable downsides to this: new inscriptions of class, over-legibility and emergent behaviour. But there are also upsides: more efficient resource utilisation, product-service ecologies.

Ambient information is increasingly going to pervade our cities, how and when will depend on our culture.

"Systems are for cities and cities are for people".

The most inspiring talk by far was from Dr. Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology, Newcastle University (United Kingdom/India) on Minimally Invasive Education through Social Play. I'm afraid I closed my laptop and sat back to listen, if you get a chance I really recommend that you go listen to Dr Mitra. His talk was both heart-warming and thought-provoking, and still makes me stop and think about how I can take what I learnt from it back to every day life. Teaching 300 illiterate, non-English speaking Indian children to use a computer and learn the principles of DNA (in English) in three months is almost unbelievable, especially considering that they taught themselves. Each wanted to be seen as the "teacher" within the group, driving them to find ways around the language barrier. I would love to see how Dr Mitra's research continues.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

dConstruct 07

I know, I know, I'm really bad at keeping my blog updated. It's been weeks since dConstruct and I haven't mentioned it once. Truth is, with two birthdays and catching up with the world I haven't really had much time to sit down. Tomorrow however, I'm heading off to Picnic and I really ought to get one conference down here before I start with the next.

It was unfortunate, and entirely my own fault for completely confusing the whole time zone issue, that I flew into Gatwick the morning of dConstruct and not the morning before as I'd originally thought. There were many tears and frantic phone calls to try and sort this out, but unfortunately there was no way I could change my flights without spending a fortune. So I touched down at around 10am, and immediately received a MMS from Joh of people registering an hour or so earlier. It was happening! A train journey, a brief kip and a stroll into town later and I made it to the last two talks.

Many people have posted up their thoughts on the day, so I will simply say that it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves. I heard many people utter the words "the best yet", and there was a really good atmosphere both at the Dome and at Above Audio afterwards. It was lovely to finally put names to faces having been in email contact with speakers, sponsors and attendees over the previous few months.

Of course, we're already starting to plan next years. And dare I say it, I'm really looking forward to starting the whole process again.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thoughts on the Man

I flew back from the desert a week ago, and I have finally caught up enough to be able to jot down a few words about my adventures. To say that Burning Man is crazy is glazing over it a little. My experiences were both bad and good, but I'd rather focus on the good bits - which were, in a word, amazing.

I think the first two things you notice are the heat and the dust. Now I know everyone says this, but really you can't imagine just how hot and just how dusty until you get there.

In order to acclimatise ourselves to the heat before we got there, we turned the air-con off whilst driving through the entrance to Black Rock City. And a short while later, having lost a couple of pints of water each, we turned it back on again. What were we thinking?! My first day camped was a horrendous day of dehydration and heat stroke. I gulped down water like there was no tomorrow, and yet it didn't really seem to go anywhere. I fluctuated between feeling faint, sick and quite oddly happy. Still, lots of Gatoraid, some rehydration powder and a snooze in some shade did the trick and by twilight Tom and I were wandering around the Playa.

The dust, well that's just freeky. It gets everywhere. I mean, you think it's got everywhere and then you have a white out and you realise that, impossibly, there are more places for it to get. We returned back to camp to find our tent covered in a layer or two of the plaster fine dust, unfortunately on the inside. It's alkaline and so it really hurts your feet and hands if you don't take care of them. Fortunately washing in vinegar does the trick. So yes, I did bathe my hands and feet in vinegar and yes, it felt perfectly normal. Course, you won't find me hanging around near chippy's now - it was a "strictly in the desert" thing.

The sky - wow now there's a sight. From the mountains on one side, to the mountains on the other, sky is all there is above you. Bright blue with clouds you can spend hours finding the shapes in, and at night there are so very, very many stars. So many, in fact, that you can see the stars between the stars and have this awe inspiring realisation of the galaxies beyond. After that it got a bit Stephen Hawking and I had to look at all the neon lights instead.

But enough of trying to explain it. You need to see it to believe it. But here are some memories, in no particular order as, to be honest, I can't remember what happened on which day. I blame the lack of sleep!

Vodka and red bulls whilst putting up tents, and a sip of bloody mary that actually tasted good.
That fine, fine mist of water sprays that is both startling and deliciously cold.
Break beats by the temple, a flame thrower over the dance floor.
The monkeys, a beautiful installation, some would say the best.
Crazy golf at night on the Playa.
Dance, Dance Immolation, which I never got to try out.
Roller skating during a white out.
Tying down a parachute whilst the desert blows in.
Rain on the Playa.
Tarot cards and ice cold home made red wine.
Watching the pretty lights, and standing with your friends gazing up at the stars, giggling.
Trampolines at 4am.
Watching the sun come up on theatre seats on the Esplanade.
Ice, ice, cold lemonade.
Spikes Bar, a happy Joh.
A lazy afternoon in hammocks.
The man, who burnt quietly.
The oil rig, exploding against the night sky and seemed to shake the world.
Walking for an hour and a half across the desert, without really noticing.
The Sapphire Portal, sitting down realising it was well worth the walk.
Porta potties that sang "happy birthday".
My boy, taking my hand and smiling at me, whilst inside my head I cry "We're in the desert! And right now it is just beautiful!"

I've spent a few nights dreaming of the desert, I suspect there'll be many more. And I know I will go back.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Last week wasn’t all that nice in places. We had a lovely note from some neighbours pushed through our door (when I say ‘lovely’ here, I actually mean ‘rude and insulting’ but I thought I’d enjoy the sarcasm a bit), shortly followed by finding that someone had slashed the roof of my car. I know I’ve been having some problems getting it running recently (with really helpful mechanics saying things like ‘we couldn’t find anything wrong with it’) but I felt this was going just a touch too far (again, that lovely sarcasm). So there were phone calls to the police, garage and insurance company and I’m still waiting for it all to be sorted out.

So it was a welcome relief to have a couple of days holiday at the start of the week (and of course for the major upturn in sunny weather!) We didn’t go abroad but just spent four days pottering around, enjoying being able to stay till closing on a Sunday night (amid cider fuelled discussions on Burning Man), to wake up slowly and spend time by the river in Barcombe, or laze about by the beach or Queens Park reading (The Vesuvius Club – fantastically funny). Of course, I was really rather silly and neglected to put sun cream on and so now have a rather fetching lobster coloured back which requires careful movement when dressing/sleeping. Still, I’m not complaining (much!) – there is sunshine after all.

But it was rather nice to go back to work yesterday (yes, I did really say that) feeling rested. And only another three weeks until the Man – which of course won’t be restful at all, but will most probably include further sun related issues.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

That lovely green stuff....

On Saturday I finally got to visit Kew Gardens again. I say finally because I really wanted to go last year but never had the time, and two years ago when I first went seems, a long time ago now.

I love Kew, it's one of those places where I can feel my heart rate slow as I walk through the gates. (What is that about me and greenery?) Suddenly all is calm, the only distraction is the multitude of planes that fly over. I don't remember there being that many - but last time I went mid-week when perhaps there are less flights? Or I just cut them out of my memory, and chose to remember more trees instead.

With only a couple of hours to spare before the Mousetrap (I know - what a perfect day; gardens and Agatha Christie!), we took in the Pagoda and my favourite walk up the cedar vista. There's something rather lovely about the long grass, filled with grasshoppers (Ok, they were nice at the time but I'm not a big insect fan in general), trees reaching skywards and that occasional (Ok, not that occasional) interruption from the flight path.

Of course, no sooner had we walked out of the gate (and amazingly avoided the ice-cream van) we wanted to go back and spend a day, with a picnic and a book and not too damp grass between our toes.

A quick hike along a couple of tube lines and we were in Leicester Square, hunting around for the theatre (there are so many!) and a healthy dose of murder. Of course I can't tell you who did it (if you still don't know), but I can tell you that it was good fun. Tweed and chintz sofas ruled, posh accents and a fair dose of over-acting in true Agatha Christie style. And Tom only fell asleep once!

Amazingly the rain held off until we dashed for the train home, in itself quite a miracle at the moment. What was lovely was to get away from Brighton for a day, oh and all that green. I do love that green.

Friday, July 13, 2007

on ticket sales, poker & a traitorous car

It's been a busy few weeks for me and possibly a bit too much burning of the candle at both ends. But it has also been a really exciting time. I've been busy organising more for dConstruct, tickets went on sale at 11am on Tuesday and sold out in an astounding 5 hours - an event suitably rewarded with a bottle of bubbly at Clearleft towers.

Yesterday evening was again time to celebrate the girl geekiness, at July's Geek Girl Dinner. Denise Wilton gave a fantastic talk on designing web applications with character, something I find increasingly interesting. It got me thinking more about using language to appeal to your target audience. Quite rightly, banks shouldn't be using "hey, you've just deposited some funds, cooool!" and if they did I suspect they would loose the trust of their users. Banks = serious.

However more social websites have a much freer reign when it comes to deciding on language and tone - do they want to appeal to teenagers, young adults, 30-somethings? The language and tone they use for each audience will be different, and will therefore not necessarily appeal to others outside this range.

I must try to catch Denise's talk at dConstruct (dependent on my poor sleep deprived brain and generally running around in a gopher like fashion).

I also played my first game of poker, huddled round the meeting room table, beers in hand and delicious pizza to keep us going. I ended up £1.50 up, although Cath cleared up very efficiently... I just wonder if it was the old "let the first timer win, she'll come back for more".. But yes, I suspect there'll be more Clearleft poker nights to come.

All this may lead you to believe that life is going good - and it is, apart from one thing. My traitor of a car. I laugh at the last garage I took it to (now I've stopped being very angry anyway) who claimed there was nothing wrong with it. Pah! I say. You take it out and wait for it to stall, stall, stall, stall, stall, refuse to start. Then you can cope with the panic and the trying to park it on a hill. So at present it's sitting there, all forlorn, waiting for me to decide whether I can afford to fix it, sell it, or scrap it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

zombie meme

I have been Zombie Tagged, by Ginquinn to celebrate the young Mr Burt's birthday. By a stroke of sheer coincidence I put in an order at Threadless about two weeks ago, and what should be in that order? Well I'll tell you what - an "In case of zombies" t-shirt which quite frankly gives me answers a plenty on how to survive a zombie invasion. How handy is that? So without further ado:

1. Describe your zombie escape plan (generally). Explain your choices.

Well on another stroke of coincidence I was discussing zombie escape plans up in Leeds recently. Corner shops with their own generators seemed a good idea at the time, but since then I've come to a different conclusion. Somewhere with only one door, a long hallway and some stairs. That seems the best idea. You see, zombies a) arn't very clever and b) you can only fit one through the door at any time. So they're likely to form a nice queue, whilst lots of well-armed people can line the hallway and safely dispose of them. Of course, if it gets too much you just climb the stairs. After all zombies can't climb stairs and certainly don't have any ridiculous dalek type hover skills.

2. Who would you choose to have with you and why?

Strong men. This is for two reasons a) strong men are always handy to have around. I rather like them. And b) strong men are strong and therefore very good at killing zombies. I thought everyone knew that?

3. What is your choice of zombie bashing weapon?

Well obviously a cricket bat. They're great! In fact, my t-shirt helpfully says "sporting goods can be handy in a panic". But I'd like some big guns too - just to look cool.

4. Finally if you escape plan goes horribly wrong what will you do?

Sack all the strong men for a start! But fortunately here my t-shirt comes up with some helpful hints: "zombies are slow and dim-witted. It may be possible to move amongst them undetected". So I'd try that for a while and if all else fails, I'll die or become zombificated. Mmmmm brains......

Monday, June 18, 2007

designing interactions & friendly software

On Wednesday evening I jumped on another train up to London with Andy & Tom for Designing Interactions at the RSA, part of their ongoing lecture series. Overall I found the talks really interesting, but it was the question and answer section which I got the most out of. There was a range from, "how can I find inspiration" - one I defy anyone to be able to answer, to how we design products to interact better with themselves.

Despite protestations that London is the place to be for design, I was not surprised to hear from Tony Dunn that a number of his students were finding it difficult to find placements here. I remember my brother finding a similar situation when he finished his Product Design degree.

Tom and I headed off at the end, missing the drinks in what I know to be a beautiful vault, and spent quite a while discussing whether software can ever be held in esteem in the same way that hardware is. You don’t hear people discuss Omniplan in the same way as they talk about their Macbook, when I can imagine voices softening as if talking of a friend. I boiled this down to the physical, you can reach out and stroke your ipod, you hold your mobile, but you don’t get that same level of closeness with software. It is an integral part of all these things that we use on an every day basis, but we don’t reach out and touch it. I think the closest we get to the same sense of engagement are social networking sites like Flickr – which has a voice that we can personify, can build a sense of community with. However, reading comments on Tom’s post, I could well be wrong!

On another note: finally, seven months later, the wallpaper is now all up. The Chinese Dragon print went up on Thursday, and looks really rather fabulous. Thanks to Mum for popping in and putting it up whilst I went to work!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

more on ghosty

Serge has uploaded video footage of last Friday night's ghost-in... Cool!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

car trouble and late nights

It’s turning out to be an expensive month, first the car, then the washing machine, now the car again. A trip out to The Ram in Firle was scuppered this afternoon when, having got to the Kingston roundabout I realised that there was something most definitely wrong. This was after Tom found the passenger foot well filled with water (a leak from the soft top I think), and so had been bailing us out at 70mph. Limping home, the revs all over the place, the engine stalling or just loosing power I was a bag of nerves by the time we got back. I love my car, I don’t want to sell it, but Lord only knows how much it’s going to cost this time.

Fortunately the rest of the weekend has been spent either out in the glorious sunshine (yay, summer’s back), asleep (most necessary), or staying up all night at FP towers watching Most Haunted Live from the Eastern State Penitentiary (it was only for the Ghost Detector for your mobile, honest). American TV – what can I say? There are lots and lots of terrible adverts, the majority of which are still jingling around my head (especially the Campbell’s soup one! Ghastly!). I don’t remember much else, I was tired, there was wine, and we didn’t leave till 7am. Good fun though!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show was great fun this year, the day only being slightly marred by lots of travel complications on the way home. But until four o’clock we had a lovely day wandering about in the sunshine. It was much busier this year, perhaps because the weather was so much better than last, and so we spent much of the morning huddled between ladies in their summer frocks and elder gents, Show Guides in hand, peering at the show gardens over shoulders. I spent a lot of time on tiptoe – pointing my phone over heads in the hope of getting a photo that showed at least some of the garden.

We voted for an early lunch (mostly because I hadn’t had any breakfast and was beginning to feel it!) before heading back out in the afternoon and fortunately getting a better look. I ended up with a head full of ideas, feeling really rather hot and with sore feet – definitely Pimm’s o’clock. It was glorious to sit back under a tree and sip a nice tall glass.

I was happy to see a wide range of designs, lots of fun new ideas and some new variations on familiar ideas. I especially loved the Un-Tei Garden of Clouds (although so did everyone else - there was always a hoard of people standing around it admiringly)! There was a "Where the Wild Things Are" garden - complete with boat and bed of grass (real bed that is). Then there was the Chetwood's Urban Oasis - a fantastic solar powered "flower", which opens and closes and pumps water around the garden. Probably wouldn't fit in my little patio though.

Of course, heading back into London a while later was rather weird. From greenery and gardens to the smog of Slone Square! But then disaster struck, on the tube we were told that Victoria station was closed, so started heading for London Bridge. Of course, Sod’s Law, halfway to London Bridge I saw that it was only Victoria tube station that was closed, but we were nearly at London Bridge so didn’t see the point in turning round. Heh – until we got to London Bridge that is! A trackside fire (which the tube driver helpfully didn’t actually tell us about until we got to the station) meant that the station was closed. So out we trooped, across the platform and back the way we came. Then a long walk along to Victoria, along with lots of other people, until we finally caught the train home. There was snoozing, and not much chatter – we were just glad to have got a seat!

Fortunately by the time I got home, foot sore and knackered, my head was still full of alliums and rills, beds in the sunshine and silk parasols galore. Fantastic!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

adventures in town

This week has been a bit of an eye-opener. I suspect it’s the fact that I’m in town during the day now, rather than stuck off in Falmer, watching squirrels and commenting on dandelion growth. In town, “things” happen.

Like last night, when we were 20 minutes late to Stewart Lee and therefore weren’t allowed in. OK, so we shouldn’t have been late (slapped wrists etc), but surely theatre's and cinema’s have been coping with late arrivals for decades? Couldn’t they have just let us in at the side, I’d have promised to be quiet. But no. They couldn’t. Grumpiness followed.

Which reminds me of last Thursday, when Katharine and I popped to the Dorset for lunch, and finally got it, 50 minutes later and wrong. I’ve decided their Eggs Benedict isn’t that nice, I’ll just go to Bill’s next time.

Today has been the turn of car related incidents. I jumped out of my skin on my way home at lunch time when a truck suffered two blow-outs opposite St Peters Church. The driver though, was very entertaining: he got out, checked his truck, shouted at the sky and drove off – tyres flopping against the road and wheels all buckled. Lord knows how far the loony got!

And on my way home, along a very near stretch of road was a Domino’s pizza delivery chap, having been knocked off his moped (I think, he look shocked, there was a smell of petrol, an over-turned moped and a couple of ambulance men). Fortunately my head was full of spreadsheets at the time, so I managed to cope with all this excitement just fine.

So tomorrow I’m going to leave exciting Brighton and head off to the Chelsea Flower Show. Nothing is likely to happen there, except perhaps a glimpse of Charlie Dimmock and or a wilting allium. At least, I don't think anything is likely to happen.....

Saturday, May 19, 2007

and so to work....

Shameless plug time! For those of you who haven’t already seen it elsewhere (and have at least a vague interest), the dConstruct 07 site is now up, running and looking rather fab thanks to lots of hard work from Paul in the Clearleft office. I’m really looking forward to it, not only will it be my first conference, I’ll also be helping organise it, and will have the great pleasure of flying back from the desert and San Francisco to attend. (OK, that bit I’m not looking forward to quite so much!)

Tickets will be available from July, so subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates.

Right, that’s enough plugging from me! Back to the joys of the weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

so sleepy..

I am absolutely exhausted. My head is full of Gantt charts, numbers from lists of invoices and PO’s. I’ve finished day three of my first week and I can barely keep my eyes open, but I am really rather happy.

It is typical that I start my new job in the week that we are getting out and doing the majority of our festival stuff. After a lovely weekend up in Leeds visiting Julie & Jonny (with a lovely day at the Forbidden Corner followed by the best ice-cream I’ve had in a long time), we spent Monday evening in the Udderbelly watching the Caesar Twins. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, having been told various things about half naked men in baths (poor Tom didn’t look impressed!) but the acrobatics were really rather fab – if a little painful looking.

Yesterday we headed out to James’ Telling Lies night, where I giggled about Bill and the mice with placards, and laughed until tears streamed down my face to the wonderful “pig heart boy” song. I will do my best to make it to the “Poetry in a Brothel” readings, firstly it sounds like great fun and secondly because it’s the first time I’ve had a chance to visit a “massage parlour” – not that I’ve ever really felt the urge to before, but you need to try these things I guess.

This evening though I have a night off, I’ve ordered pizza, I’ve blearily eyed a DVD for the evening and I plan on closing the laptop, ignoring the phone and curling up on the sofa with my bears. I wonder how long I’ll last before my eyelids give up on me and the snoring starts? (Not that I really snore, you understand. No, never. Well, maybe after a couple of beers.. )

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

drink pimps

So I woke up this morning, looked around, groaned and thought, “yes, I do really have to get up.” It wasn’t nice, and I blame the rhum entirely. Last night we took my parents out to Drink Pimps at the Hanbury to (really rather belatedly) celebrate my mum’s birthday and give dad a chance to show off his cocktail making prowess.

We arrived, sat at a table complete with shaker, slop bucket, ice bucket, knife, strainer and muddler and were given a free cocktail to get us in the mood. Wehay! This was followed by a brief presentation on La Mauny rhum and how it’s made in Martinique (with lovely photos of the Caribbean, just to make us green with envy). And then the tasting; white rhum, amber rhum and old rhum (aged in bourbon or cognac barrels). Yum!

It was about this time that I thought to myself, “mmm, there’s rather a lot of rhum here, I suspect tomorrow morning will be painful”. Wow, my powers of deduction are unsurpassed! This morning was definitely ouchy.

We were given our secret ingredients and sat down to invent the “Caribbean Spray”. It involved bashing a lot of fruit about, squeezing a lot of lemon and lime and commenting on the fact that guava juice wasn’t all that helpful. I hasten to add that we didn’t win, but we did get wonderfully sticky fingers!

Friday, April 27, 2007

an exciting update

What a week! Things have been remarkably like a roller coaster for the last couple of days, but it’s Friday and I think I finally have a clear enough head and a couple of minutes to tell you all about it.

On Monday night, still recovering from a rather heavy weekend courtesy of the MacKriell’s, six of us headed out to the Jooglebury for a Catalyst Club special. Ken Campbell regaled us with highly amusing tales of the Liverpool Science Fiction Theatre, how buying a parrot is only slightly more expensive than a computer and the joys of decorating dog poo (I kid you not!) It was really very funny, if a little weird, and cheered me up good and proper.

The lovely Mr Glasnost came around for dinner on Wednesday, complete with two bottles of red and in perfect timing to coincide with a fantastic job offer. Drink I did, and was merry (if somewhat distracted and liable to shout “woohoo” at inopportune moments). So yesterday I dashed about, handing in my resignation letter, trying to explain my new job to numerous people and being stopped in car parks, corridors and toilets and asked, “what are we going to do without you?”

What will I be doing now, you ask? Well on the 14th May I start as Studio Manager/Project Assistant at Clearleft. I am a combination of very excited and a just a little bit scared. I’ve been at the University for over five years now, so working somewhere else is a bit of a daunting prospect. But it is my ideal job, with a bunch of great guys and in the industry I want to work in – what could be better?

And now I shall go back to grinning happily at people and occasionally shouting “woot!” Me? Chipper? Good Lord yes!

Friday, April 20, 2007


On Wednesday evening Tom & I headed out to the theatre to see The Bargain, a new play by Ian Curteis based on the imagined conversations (i.e. blackmail) that took place between Robert Maxwell and Mother Teresa when she visited London way back in 1988. I’m not really sure what to say about the play, the jokes were fairly obvious, a lot more could have been done with the characters (Maxwell was the typical tyrannical capitalist). Mother Teresa was slightly more interesting, and came off as a cool, hard businesswoman rather than meek and angelic.

It’s not so much that I didn’t like the play (I only gave it a 4), but I’d decided to wear my pointy shoes and they were a little distracting. I mean you do need to make a bit of an effort to look good when you go to the theatre. At least, that what I’ve always been told. So to make up for the fact that I was wearing jeans (I had a minor crisis trying on a number of skirts and failing miserably to like any), pointy heels and a pashmina were my saving graces. Unfortunately my little toes didn’t really agree. They got somewhat squished. And the pashmina? Well apparently that’s just a scarf!

So last night, when all the girls bundled onto the sofa, wine or jasmine tea in hand, it was a great relief to be in a big cozy jumper and slippers. Me, style? But of course! I have a style all of my very own.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

dark energy

Yesterday evening we headed out to Café Scientifique at the Branch Tavern to listen to Bob Nichol answer the question “Has anyone seen our universe?”

Now me and maths, and physics for that matter, just don’t get on. I did try but for some reason each lesson became a struggle to keep my eyes open, to concentrate as equations and theories went way over my head and travelled off into the distance. And brown: there seemed to be a lot of brown involved in both maths and physics. Brown shirts, brown trousers, brown floors. However I was greatly impressed to understand (all bar the equations of course) the premise behind dark energy.

What really got to me though were a couple of small sentences. Firstly, what if the mass within the universe has enough gravity to stop it expanding? Will it then stop and reverse the expansion? Hold on! I thought, does this mean that we’ll end up being squished out of existence? And then my brain went down the whole, “but if we’re not here, and the universe isn’t here – what would be left?” series of questions, which make my brain boggle and the rest of me feel slightly disorientated.

Secondly there was supernovas, and how if one happened near us we’d have a whole two seconds before our atmosphere evaporated. “Don’t worry about global warming or your mortgage!” we were told. But somehow I have a feeling that the bank might get a little bit shirty if I told them that I didn’t want to pay the mortgage anymore because a supernova could happen at any minute and then we’d all be dead.

Fascinatingly though, I learnt that gravity may work in a different way when dealing with space-time. In fact, whole chunks of gravity may be leaching off into another dimension. String theory and the eleven dimensions are apparently not just way beyond my mathematical abilities but everyone else’s too, and so five dimensions seems a sensible place to start. Five? I thought. And then decided to stop thinking and go home and have some dinner.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The first picnic of the year, and boy was the weather lovely. I've decided that picnics are the way forward this summer. There was something simply glorious about finding a patch of warm grass in Brighton, away from the hoards where you can lay down your blanket, nestle against your boy and only have the gulls to fend off.

We settled in Queens Park at lunchtime, having climbed up Southover Street panting (me) and admiring the view (Tom). After a quick look around we decided on a patch of grass near the pond, in sight of the ducks but far enough away from the nearest group of people. And then we began, tearing apart the loaf of soft white bread, smearing it with delicious dolcelatte or brie, fingers greasy from samosas and glugging on ginger beer. Personally I really don't like ginger beer, but glug I did, and only having drunk much of a can in one go did I let out a "yuck". No one can say I didn't try.

It was glorious, and since then I have filled my head with images of picnics in fields of long grass, picnics by the river at Barcombe, picnics on the sand in Camber... and of course without the lashings of ginger beer. There's nothing quite like them, and with a "garden" I can only describe as a walled-in area of concrete, they are likely to be the only times this year I shall be able to feel the grass between my toes.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I know how the green woods laugh

It was the perfect start to Easter Sunday, a walk out along the farm track at the bottom of the paddock. The track leads along by fields of bright yellow oil seed rape, blue sky above and the warm sunshine beating down on the cracked earth.

We walked along to the end of the track and then up and around the fields, before picking
our way through the yellow to a patch of woodland. Under foot the branches cracked, primroses, celandines and bluebells a carpet under still leafless trees. There was no noise at all but the bird song and hum of bees. And there we stood soaking it up and dreaming, my boy and I.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Tom and I headed off to Gatwick at around 4pm on Thursday, dashing through the rain, eager to start the holiday on sunnier soil. We landed in Barcelona at around 9:30pm, picked up my bag and headed through the dark in a taxi to our hotel on Carrer del Bruc. A brief unpack and change later and we were headed into the city for a lovely meal at Ciutat Comtal and a night of exploring Las Ramblas. We drank beer in a bar with bicycles hanging from the ceiling, spent time wandering through the narrow lanes and remarking on the number of people trying to sell us beer in red cans.

Friday dawned bright and sunlit and after finding coffee and breakfast we headed out to the Gaudi park. Despite much searching, we only saw a couple of kittens but spent the morning wandered through the gardens, sun on our backs. We caught the metro to Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s cathedral, which stands tall and grotesque, surrounded by cranes. With fascination we walked through the unfinished arches, staring up at windows, the façade, the gargoyles, through squinting eyes. It is an amazing structure, but one that leaves me feeling slightly unsettled.

We dined by the port, braving the cooling air until we had too many goosebumps and headed back for cocktails in a basement bar. We found a gem, the Palace Hotel, which served us mojitos with a pile of crisps and let us sink into the sofa for a few hours to talk.

On Saturday we caught up on shopping before heading to the zoo. What struck me particularly was the lack of fencing. There sat this pride of lions, tails flicking at flies and blinking into the sunshine, with only a trench and a short fence between us. Fortunately they looked far too lazy to make an escape, but I wondered if, had one of them been feeling particularly peckish, they’d have made short work of trench, fence and a tasty looking small child. Just as the rain started to fall we headed back for a snooze before dinner at Dom’s, delicious Thai curry and lashings of wine. It seemed fitting that we head back for one last cocktail at the Palace on our last night, wandering through the darkness and making plans.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Spring certainly sprung for me this morning as I walked home. Although there was that slight chill in the air, fresh and clear, there was a definite promise of warmth to come. I shut out the hum of traffic and just listened to the bird song gloriously rising from trees and gardens along the road. I can hear it now, above the tap of keys and ring of phones.

It is one of those quiet weeks in the office, where we stop to drink coffee and catch up every so often, gathering by the window to look out across the Downs. I keep hoping to see green on the trees, and look out daily for the first signs. The tree directly outside drops seeds over the course of one afternoon later in the year, which looks like snow falling. They stream through the open windows and cover the floor in a carpet of white fluff, but that isn’t until May.

If I had to choose a favourite month, it probably would be May. When the weather finally gets to the start of summer, with the first hot days. The flowers all seem to burst out in chorus, petals bright. It has a deeper significance to me now; one which makes the weather warmer, the days hotter, and the flowers seem even brighter than ever. It is truly wonderful and makes my heart sing.

Monday, March 26, 2007

of many spartans in leather pants...

It was another productive weekend for me. I spent a lovely evening on Friday with Katharine & Lyndsey, drinking wine and chatting. Katharine told us of her new found fame, she may well be appearing with Sam (or perhaps just Sam with his dragon and no Katharine at all) on the television in May – something to look out for.

Despite the wine I managed to get up early on Saturday and head out onto the quieter streets with my bike. It started off wonderfully well, no traffic at all, but having navigated the terror of the Vogue Gyratory I then realised that the A27 is in fact a ghastly wind tunnel. I found out what all my gears do (not a lot in the face of so much head-on wind!), and peddled forth bravely until my legs could take no more. On the plus side, the cycle back was much easier and I felt gloriously angelic for the rest of the day.

I met up with my boy, and we headed into town for pizza at the Atlas Lounge, delicious and many cheesed. We braved the cold and stalked around the town, buying trainers and trousers before heading back home for a doze.

The evening was spent in the charming company of Dan, Lucy, Ken, Rach, and Paul, settled in at the front of the cinema for 300. Many fights, many battle cries “Spar-tans!” and many pairs of leather pants… oh, and a rhino and a strange goat (although I’ve been told it was Pan.. not sure about that one). I liked it, but I suspect some of the others were hoping for something a bit more “epic”. Sin City, I admit, was better.

Next it was on to Dangermouse Dave’s birthday party. We guzzled cider, caught up with more folks and thoroughly enjoyed a party at someone else’s house for a change. Then we realised that, due to the clocks changing, it was in fact far later than we’d thought, so we headed home, fell fast asleep and didn’t stir till Sunday lunchtime. Further naps followed and a remarkably quiet and restful Sunday was had. Glorious!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

spring cycling

On Saturday, whilst the weather was still warm and the sun was shining brightly, I took a wander into town with my boy for a spot of breakfast. We sat down in one of the window seats in The Dorset and people watched whilst I munched on eggs benedict. We talked bikes. I had decided, a day or so before, that a new bike was the way forward. I used to cycle around the countryside as a kid, and teenager, but after I passed my driving test all thoughts of such exercise were banished – the car reigned free!

I still love my car, it’s beautiful and is especially so in the summer months when I take down the top and speed off along country lanes, dual carriageways and the like. But there is something rather lovely about cycling along on a spring afternoon. At least, there is in my head.

So after breakfast we took a short walk to Baker Street Bikes, where I was introduced to my new hybrid; open framed and a shiny dark red. It wasn’t love at first sight, but there was a definite appreciation there. I added mudguards and a helmet to the list, a bike chain and lights and left it there to be fitted up.

This left us with an afternoon of sunshine, and a short trip out to Streat. The sun was indeed shining but the weather was also still cold, and it was with quiet determination that I drove back along the A27, fingers frozen to the steering wheel, wind blowing through my hair, bullishly refusing to put the top back up. An afternoon of sunshine, and the English go ever so slightly mad.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


We got off the tube at Wapping, finding Wapping Lane easily whilst I gulped down the last bit of my prawn and avocado sandwich. Finding number 21 was a little more difficult; we stopped along the road to consult a map that made no difference at all, and giggling we reassured ourselves that it was just a little further along. It was. There, on the right hand side of the road, opposite the Tobacco Dock Pirate Ship, stood 21 Wapping Lane; a sign on the side proclaiming “WARNING: dangerous structure keep out”. With fifteen minutes to go until Group 4 opened the gates and let us in, we wandered about a little, admired the pirate ship and remarked on how the evening and suddenly become somewhat more obscure than a usual trip to the theatre.

At seven they let us in, and we took the long walk around the warehouse to the entrance, clustered into the worn and dusty hallway area before being led down into the dark. Here we caught a brief glimpse of the bar before each being handed out a white mask that covered our faces entirely, then herded into a lift and whisked up to the third floor. At each floor a number of us were shoved out into the darkness and told to be brave before the lift gates slammed shut and the few of us remaining went down to the next. On the first floor we were all out, letting our eyes adjust to the darkness and beginning our adventure.

For three hours we wandered through the dark, over five floors in near silence. We met the old Faust, the young Faust, Mephistopheles, Gretchen, Angels and an Evangelist. We walked through 1950’s diners and bars, through rooms that smelt of musty old fabrics, rooms where white linen hung from the ceiling. There was a corridor of almost complete darkness, lined on each side by candles and statues of the Virgin Mary, black tassels of fabric hanging from the ceiling and noises coming from barely visible rooms on either side. A room entirely filled with racks and racks of what looked like old tape cassette holders led in to another room, pentacle painted on the floor. There were floors filled with pine trees, a fallen church spire on the floor. An attic room that was filled with the scent of lavender and a mannequin hidden in the corner that would make you jump out of your skin.

In between this wandering, we caught glimpses of the story. Followed characters for a short while on their journeys, or watched entire scenes play out. We were all present at the final scene, acted out in the basement and lit by a blue light. We watched as the characters danced, hanging by their arms from the ceiling, or leaping onto cage walls, and still that darkness and near silence.

It was the most exciting play I’ve ever seen, and certainly the most adventurous. Leaving the audience to wander around, finding their own play within the play, being able to follow whichever character they wanted and yet knowing that they would never be able to see the whole story, that other sections were happening elsewhere in the vast building. A truly fantastic night out.

Friday, March 02, 2007


With a couple of early nights under my belt and finally having the wallpaper up in the sitting room (thanks Mum!), I am finishing the week in a much better mood than I started. I find myself curled up on the sofa, yet again watching rain splash against the windows, but with the whole weekend ahead of me. The lovely Donovan & Sam, just back from Australia, will be visiting this evening along with upstairs neighbours Lyndsey & Owen. Then tomorrow is Ikea followed by Amy and Em’s party whilst Sunday I intend to spend nestled somewhere quiet with a book and my boy.

Top most on my mind this afternoon though, is the news that the entire back of the building needs to be re-rendered as the current rendering has blown. This is hardly surprising; the maintenance so far seems to have consisted only of patching up cracks rather than dealing with the problem properly. It’s not an entirely unexpected development, but one that leaves me clutching at my wallet and wondering just how much it will cost. Perhaps replacing the kitchen will need to be put on hold for a while. But this work does need to be done, if the builder who looked at the building today is anything to go by, it hasn’t been for the past forty years! It’ll save time and money in the long term, but means that I won’t be decorating the bedroom just yet. There is damp coming in through the wall and I want to wait until any work is done before I start on that room.

So as I look up at my new wallpaper, and marvel as its lovely iridescence, I’m fully aware of just how much I will appreciate having one room done. It may be a long while yet before I can do anymore.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

home and dry

Today is a day when it’s good to be home and dry. I can hear the rain lashing against the windows, watch the drops run down, glistening in the streetlight and all the while hear the gentle tick of the radiators warming up. Zack, who is a bear of much sense, is nestled on a cushion next to me, occasionally opening his eyes to give me a look before stretching out a paw and letting his chin fall back into place.

I have found myself thinking more often of living in the countryside over the past few weeks. This evening is one I can imagine being perfectly spent in front of an open fire, watching the flames crackle and snap whilst knowing full well that the downpours continue on the other side of the walls. The church bells I can hear ringing from St Peters I imagine are from a village church, nestled between yew hedges with a graveyard full of stones bearing barely legible epitaphs.

It is fortunate that I have nothing planned for the evening but to cook lasagne and curl up on the middle of my sofa, cushions and blankets and bears at the ready with an Agatha Christie or P D James and nothing to interrupt but Mr Zack’s slow purr. I have prescribed this night of self-indulgence to help ease the melancholy that has slipped over me for the past week or so. I shall refuse to let the grey clouds past the windows, instead basking in the soft light and tempting smells of browning mince and garlic.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


At just after seven we loaded the car and headed out, headlights popped up, along the A27. Over the Kingston roundabout and on, past Beddingham, Selmeston and down the winding lanes to Alfriston, shrouded in darkness bar the occasional lit window.

hotel lay behind a long and smooth lawn, lit up to guide us in. We parked the car, dropped off our bags and walked the short distance along the pavement to The George. It is a beautiful pub, oak beams bringing the ceiling down low, a roaring open fire and leather sofas making up the quiet snug. We supped on delicious local ham, roasted garlic, warmed balsamic vinegar and home made bread. Then fillet steak on half a toasted muffin with home made béarnaise sauce, thick cut chips with a sprinkling of salt. Finally there was chocolate ice cream for my boy and an enormous board of cheese for me, crackers sloping off the sides and thick creamery butter. We drank red wine and talked low in the candlelight.

The phone never rang, there was no car in sight and walking back through the night we marvelled at the brightness of the stars. And how delicious to wake up to bird song and out of the window the river, winding back and forth across the fields, trees bare of leaves and not a sound of traffic or people to be heard. Perfect.

Monday, February 12, 2007

a return

Dear Readers, I do apologise for my recent lack of posting. Life recently has been somewhat busy, on those occasions when I have found myself with a brief period of peace my brain has only come up with utter nonsense. “Oh yes,” it will say, “ice over the road and breed slightly lop-sided penguins. Then we can indeed invade France and steal all their cheese!” Not, perhaps, the most helpful of ideas, but I admit to being somewhat fond of French cheeses.

I have, however, finally got the sitting room painted. It is now a delicious pale greeny/blue, which brightens up the whole room. I have found myself picking up the rolls of wallpaper and holding them against this glorious colour, smiling gleefully. I’m crossing my fingers that it won’t be too long until this final bit is done and can then move onto the bedroom and that beautiful golden Chinese dragon print.

Last Wednesday I had a lovely visit from Katharine and Lyndsey. We spent an evening drinking wine, trying on my fabulous new corset and gossiping in true girly fashion. With the flat beginning to look more like a home and less like a storage facility, more visits from friends are in order. This evening Joh is popping over, and tomorrow James. At last, visitors!

My brother is having a very exciting day today, he has completed on his own house along the coast in Eastbourne and is now, I hope, settling down to the traditional fish and chips
amongst his own set of boxes, hunting frantically for a fork and a bottle opener. I shall have to pop over and visit soon, though I suspect allowing him a week or two of settling in would be appreciated.

So far, I admit, I haven’t hinted at much busyness. But in between the painting and the visits
from friends I have been to birthdays, sat in pubs drinking beer and getting excited about Burning Man. I’ve cooked rösti for my boy with delicious bratwurst brought back from Switzerland. I’ve drunk cocktails with Jane and found a new gym, eaten Japanese takeaway with Pete, had dinner with friends and driven out to the country. It has been a lovely few weeks, but I do feel guilty for not posting for so long. I do promise to do better, dear reader, and not neglect you for so long again.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

evening in

Although it’s the Brighton Bloggers Meet Up this evening, I’m feeling achy and cold, my nose is running and I feel generally rather sorry for myself. I don’t want to be ill, I hate colds, and so in an effort to stop any further germination I’ve decided on an evening in, with a cup of lapsang souchong, the furry cushions and Zack to keep me company.

I’ve also decided that the best way to fill my evening is surround myself with candles and dig into The Shadow of the North, one of a collection of new books that arrived from Amazon yesterday. Yes, I know I said I couldn’t buy any more books until I’d got the shelves sorted, and I know that I haven’t done that yet and am still deciding on paint colours, but I forgot! I was swept away in the moment. Books, I said to myself, I must have those books. And so I bought all of the Sally Lockhart series and I don’t feel sorry at all.

I’m trying to resist the lure of take away, instead leaning towards the lure of hot soup and eggy-bread. When I have a cold, well when I can still breath and have a cold, I find it increasingly difficult not to just shovel food down my face. After a weekend of doing much the same, although without the excuse, I can’t really justify phoning Murasaki Bento… or can I? I am feeling a little under the weather after all, what better time to dig into gyoza and chicken katsu? I must be strong. More tea, I think, and the next chapter. That’s bound to help.

Monday, January 22, 2007

chilled for a while

At last there was a quiet weekend. After a Friday afternoon with a major crisis at work, it was entirely necessary that I spent the evening curled up with the cats and a good round of murder mysteries, nursing a gin and tonic and recovering from my grr-y-ness.

Saturday dawned with glorious sunshine, in January! What joy! It was made better by a lovely, if brief, jaunt into the countryside, lunch at the Open House and a deliciously decadent afternoon nap. Saucy was in store for supper and discussions on beliefs and evolution. Then I have to admit, I gave in and despite many protestations over the months, watch Napoleon Dynamite. I’m still not sure I like it; although there were some beautiful bits, mostly I just found it teeth-wrenchingly painful to watch.

On Sunday we had a lovely time having lunch with James at the Chimney, and ate roast chicken (as you can see, I spent a lot of time eating this weekend, but of course it is one of my favourite things) whilst catching up. We wandered around town, snoozed on the sofa and generally spend the day doing exactly what you should on a Sunday – nothing.

But today is full of excitement because today I booked my holiday and bought the tickets for Burning Man! We’re going to the desert!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

five things

Having been tagged by Joh, and having spent quite a lot of time trying to find one interesting thing about myself, I’ve finally made it to five:

1. I’m still afraid of the dark. So much so that after a nightmare I may find it impossible to sleep without the light on. This happens less often these days, but I do still find myself compulsively checking behind me if I’m walking along in the dark.

2. I can’t swim. In fact I’m quite terrified of water. At school, at the tender age of around six, I went swimming. Unfortunately the shallow end was full so we had to wait in the deep end. I sank, and sank and began to get terrified that I’d never see the surface again. I grabbed hold of my PE teachers arm and, having seen the sheer terror on my face, he took me to the side of the pool and left me to shiver. Since then, swimming and I have not got on.

3. I worry that I have no dress-sense at all. I look at other people and, no matter how much attention I paid when getting dressed, I feel that somewhere along the line it’s gone a little awry and I’ve been left with no actual sense of style at all. This is why I wear jeans so often. They’re safe.

4. I love imagining that I live somewhere different, like in a cave, or underground. I’d love to live in a windmill, or water mill. I used to be fascinated by the cave in the Famous Five books and would spend hours imagining that I lived in something similar.

5. I cry far too easily. In fact I’ve been known to cry at mobile phone adverts (the ones for the Carphone Warehouse when the poor blighters get left behind). I’ve become quite good at hiding it, especially in cinemas, otherwise everyone would think me far too girly and emotional!

** As per Joh's instructions, I'm tagging: Ed, Glasnost, Kerry, Jeff, Aims. However, I don't think any of them (other than Ed) read this blog! **

Friday, January 05, 2007


So it’s finished - three days back at work after ten off and the only really difficult part has been wrestling with bizarre sleeping patterns. Why is it that I can’t fall asleep before 2am? And why all the weirdly vivid dreams? I don’t need insects in my dreams! The world would be much nicer without handbags filled with enormous woodlice!

I’m hoping that the weekend brings the breaking of this week long problem, with an evening at the Krater Comedy Club tonight. I haven’t been for far too long, having had a lovely spate of visits a while back. For very convoluted reasons, whenever I see MC Stephen Grant now I will be picturing Johnnie Vegas, but I’m sure I’ll get over this minor affliction soon enough. A good giggle is just what I need before term starts on Monday.

I need to pick up the wallpaper tomorrow, which means that yes: the plaster is finally dried. The damp proofing is finished and the decorating can start. Which coincides wonderfully with the start of my chief helpers yearly holiday on the slopes. Just my luck!

I also need to find a lion tamer costume for tomorrow night. As usual, photos will be posted so you’ll find out more in due course, but I expect the usual messiness.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

out with the old, in with the new

New Years Eve was a fitting end to what has been a year of many changes and wondrous beginnings. We started out at Giles’, where we drank red wine and caught up with old friends. We then headed over to Dan’s for midnight, guzzling bubbly and playing games. We sat about discussing what 2006 had meant for us, and what our plans were for 2007.

For me, 2006 started off quietly. The first few months of the year were a little frustrating, with me very stuck in an old rut.
James helped me out of this, taking me along to story-telling events and introducing me to new people for which I will be forever grateful to him.

Also due to James, I headed out to a May Day festival on the last day in April which led to one of those afternoons that you know will change your life. One date, and seven months later, and I can confirm that it certainly has! The last seven months have been filled with fireworks, and in the words of a very wise man “it is just the beginning”.

In September I left my home for the past eight years, having a brief sojourn at Rosehill moving in to my very own flat. It was a time of great stress but picking up they keys that wet October morning more than made up for it all. With the plaster nearly dry after the damp proofing, I’m looking forward to picking up the wallpaper at the weekend and beginning the decorating. Soon it will be looking more like home, and I will finally be able to get rid of the multitude of boxes. I love my home, and am really looking forward to having more of my friends to visit in the near future.

I have shared some fantastic times with friends, although both my best friends have had a difficult year. Katharine has had to deal with the knowledge that Sam, my Godson, is autistic. She has coped so well, and I am enormously proud of her for remaining optimistic in the face of such adversity and being such a fantastic mother. Lyndsey has been diagnosed as suffering from CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or ME in old currency), which I know has been incredibly frustrating for her. However yet again, she is coping remarkably well and not letting it get the better of her. Even the little improvements that she makes are huge milestones, and I am thrilled that she is starting to manage her illness more effectively.

I have also decided to change careers, something I have been pursuing recently and will continue to do so into the new year. I’m looking forward to making the break, although the thought is a little daunting.

2007 is going to be a marvellous year, I feel so excited about it. But 2006 was amazing – and I will always remember it for being splendid in so many ways.