Monday, May 25, 2009

A Scottish Weekend

We went to Scotland this weekend for a long weekend. First of all we visited Hagos's mum in Ayrshire, then we made our way through to Edinburgh.A day at Yellow Craigs beach. A hole was dug and a child was eager to get into it. We took about four huge bags' worth of picnic food, and a barbecue tray and had hot dogs on buns on the beach, finished off with ice cream in the car park, then to Pizza Express to meet more friends. In the evening it pared down to me, Hagos, Rik and Pete chatting till midnight in the pub. A thoroughly good day.
After dinner on Saturday night. The boys love having their photo taken, and particularly like making short films in which they enact a story. This weekend it was all about one boy swimming on the floor, then the other one appearing close-up to the camera. The only dialogue was, "Exterminate. Exterminate," said by the one swimming.
Me, JJ and Hagos. JJ loves playing with hair and sat beside me most of the weekend being my 'hairdresser'.

It's nice to be home again and to see Meg. If only we could transplant the whole of our village to the outskirts of Edinburgh it would be absolutely perfect.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

At the hairdresser's

My friend Julie and I had appointments at the hairdresser's together yesterday. It was good fun.

Then, in the afternoon, Hagos and I went for a cycle ride down the Marriott's Way. It was so amazing. I think it's one of the longest cycle tracks in the country. I'm not very keen about cycling on the road, and this is brilliant FLAT land to cycle on, enjoy the scenery, take in the fresh air and views. Really good fun.

Today we're planning to go again, and this time stop for tea at Reepham Station afterwards :) I feel very Famous Five-ish.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Barbie and her Bike

This is my new bike!!! I feel very excited about it. I haven't had a bike for years. I got it today, and this afternoon Hagos and I went out for a bike ride, just to get used to it.

The whole bike thing started because Hagos bought himself a bike on ebay a couple of days ago. And of course, as soon as I saw his bike I wanted one too. And he very kindly bought me one.

We're planning to go for another ride later tonight. There is a cycle route along the disused railway line that we plan to explore (and I think a few tea rooms along the way). In my fantasy I have a basket at the front of my bike to carry my picnic in :)

I'm still getting used to the gears. And even though I've been doing a lot of aerobic exercise at the gym recently, I was a bit surprised by how much effort it takes to cycle.

Meg isn't so sure about the bikes. She doesn't like the noise they make on the shingle; or the flapping of the bike cover; or, in fact, any noise that disturbs her sleep.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lounge Pants; Martin Amis; Star Trek; and Breakfast at Ha Ha's

Last night I finally got round to starting the Lounge Pants I want to make my friends for their (retrospective) Christmas. I found it a faff extending the original pattern piece (the pattern only has the shaped part at the top of the Pyjamas marked out - you then have to get your own paper and add 29 inches for the leg).
Anyway, here it is hanging up, next to an interested ginger party. I had to stop at the pattern-making stage last night as, when I laid the material on the living room floor to pin the pattern to it, Meg appeared and very determinedly began surfing the material (she starts off by rushing at it with her front paws so the material puckers, then she flops onto her side, wraps her whole body round it and tries to gut it with her back legs while holding it in her grasp with her teeth and claws - everything is an animal needing to be gutted in Megland).
And onto other news: this is the stage waiting for Martin Amis to appear. I haven't seen him for ten years and was surprised by how old he looked. Not just his face, but his body seemed old, the way he held himself and shuffled onto the stage. He was very entertaining and thought provoking though and I could have listened to him for much longer.

The discussion/reading had a very odd format actually. The event was due to start at 7.30pm and estimated to last for an hour and a half (which suited me perfectly as I had to pick Hagos up from Norwich Airport at 9.30pm). When Robert McCrum introduced Amis, he set out the timetable for the night: a half hour conversation, then a half hour break (what? is talking for half an hour too strenuous for the talkers or the listeners?) then MA would read from his forthcoming novel, then questions from the audience. The only reason I can think for the half hour break was to sell more drinks to the audience, and to sell MA's books for him to sign later. I had to run out the door as soon as the event finished (luckily the airport wasn't too far away) but I will definitely read more of Amis.
I was on the end of a row, unfortunately next to the exit and an assistant who, when I lined up this photo on my camera, leaned over and said, "You're not really allowed to take photos." Irritated I asked, "Not really, or not?" And he said, "Not. I was just trying to be polite." Anyway, at this point Martin Amis was talking again so I didn't pursue the argument any further. But, it's not like I had a gun and was trying to shoot Martin Amis ("You're not really allowed to kill Martin Amis.") And it's hardly a paparazzi shot that I plan to sell for tens of thousands of pounds and is an invasion of MA's privacy. Rules for no reason annoy me intensely.
Other news in brief: Hagos and I actually managed to get to Ha Ha's in time for breakfast yesterday! This hasn't happened for years. Usually we run in dead on midday, or just after, and have to wrestle the breakfast out of the waiter and chef.
Our favourite waitress served us, and the coffee (DECAF) was hot.

Oh, and we went to see the new Star Trek movie on Friday night and it was AWESOME.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Martin Amis

Tomorrow night I'm looking forward to seeing Martin Amis reading/talking at the Playhouse in Norwich. His novel, Time's Arrow, is one of my favourite books. I also enjoyed his memoir, Experience (though thought he spent too much time dedicated to his dentistry - not interesting to anyone else, surely?). But his account of his cousin's abduction and murder was very moving.

While I was studying for my Masters degree at the University of East Anglia, he did a reading as part of the events series there. I don't remember what book he was writing and talking about at the time, but being on the Creative Writing degree programme gave us the privilege of having a private audience with the visiting writers before their main lecture.

We crowded into a small classroom. He walked in, took the prime seat at the front next to the whiteboard, and throughout smoked roll ups and tipped his ash into the chalk/pen holder. Though it was before the general smoking ban in public buildings, it was still against the rules to smoke in the university building. Obviously those rules don't apply to superstars who can smoke anywhere, even after the ban.

I was lucky that the year I was there UEA had a lot of very good visiting writers, and they were all sweet enough to spend time with us writing students beforehand.

The writer I was most excited about was Kazuo Ishiguro. I had only just discovered him, as part of the advice for getting on the course was to read previous students' work. Kazuo Ishiguro studied on the MA Creative Writing course at UEA almost 30 years ago. Of his four novels I have read I still prefer A Pale View of Hills, his first novel (I couldn't face reading The Unconsoled - actually I've just remembered I've read five of his novels but due to disliking it immensely had blocked out When We Were Orphans from my memory - dreadful novel).

Incidentally, Ishiguro is reading at the Southbank tonight from his new book of short stories due to be published soon. I wish I was there.
Megalicious enjoying a plate of ham on the kitchen table (don't tell Hagos). She hooks each piece with a claw, throws it up in the air as if it's a mouse, and catches it in her jaws. One piece of ham almost landed on my laptop.

Monday, May 04, 2009


After my weekend realisation that I am a coffee addict again I have decided to give it up entirely. (This is a photo of decaf Earl Grey tea alongside a smoothie.)

I've been feeing increasingly off-kilter emotionally, and actually a few times have felt white hot flashes of rage towards acquaintances and strangers, and towards myself.

I had a particularly upsetting day yesterday where I couldn't find any grounding in anything. All my existential angst appeared and shook me up.

I didn't want to admit that the trajectories of the caffeine intake and the emotional imbalance corresponded. While I'm drinking strong, fresh coffee I feel so positive and so happy, and that anything is possible. I feel invincible. But the cumulative effect of the caffeine, once the buzz has passed, has been very obvious: edginess, nerviness, rage, emotional overreaction and an emotional compass that swings wildly in all directions. Not good.

I will probably book a couple of sessions of acupuncture to reset myself.

So, back to decaf. And emotional balance and grounding.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Mocha; and a Female Poet Laureate

This morning I perfected my own Mocha! Two dessert spoonfuls of chocolate, and half a portion of fresh (caffeinated) coffee. It is extremely good.
Last night Hagos and I watched a Woody Allen film, Bullets Over Broadway. It was so funny. The first Woody Allen film I ever saw was The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, which I think remains my favourite, but I like a lot of his films, especially when he's in them himself. Though there have been some terrible flops - Zelig, for example! His actors all take on his phrasing too, which makes it funny. I've just found out he has another film due out in June this year, so I'll look forward to that.
And I was very pleased to learn we have a new female poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. After 341 years of males. The world is finally catching up with itself: gay marriage, a black American president, and a female poet laureate. All on their own merit, of course. I don't agree with positive discrimination. And the arguments against gay marriage always infuriated me - to treat a section of the community like children and tell them they can't have the same legal and love rights as heterosexual people is shameful, and I'm glad that in most of the Western world it's finally been put right.

Er, rant over.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A Grumpy Day

I discovered today that I am a coffee addict again, when Hagos and I went into Ha Ha's for breakfast today and they said the coffee machine had broken down! I was all for going somewhere else - coffee being a more important component of breakfast than food - but Hagos was hungry and so we stayed. "Maybe we could have coffee somewhere else after?" I said hopefully. That's when I realised.

The first thing I did when I got home was make myself a mocha, with fresh coffee and hand-flaked chocolate from Coco in Edinburgh. Then I felt human again.
Afterwards I finished hemming and elasticating my dress. I think I like it better now it's finished. I'll wear it out next week and see how I get on.
I've thought for some time that I should educate myself about ART. I'm mostly interested in the 19th Century and onwards. This book is a good place to start.
It lays it all out by period and movements. I'm looking forward to using it as a starting point for exploring further.
And visiting a gallery or two.

This afternoon Meg and I had a lovely time with me sitting in bed relaxing and surfing the internet, and her sleeping sweetly beside me. I love Meg.