Thursday, 2 March 2017

Alphabet dating | B

B is for busy. Also bluster, bombast and befuddlement. All of which is to say that yes, this date might have happened before Christmas. Since which, life has been all CLASSES AND INTERVIEWS AND ASSESSMENTS AND HOSPITAL VISITS. NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT, BUT GET A WRIGGLE ON, SERIOUSLY. So yes, mistakes were made re: the passage of time. Which is 500% what I'm having on my headstone please. But now I would quite like to go on a 'C' date so here we are.

Luckily the alphabet has held up in my absence. But my memories of December are somewhat hazy, so do excuse me if I suddenly put in a unicorn or something to add spice. Facts are all a construct of human consciousness which get in the way of Good Honest Politics anyway. Or something.

Anyway: B is for Bakery! There is a gluten free baker / purveyor of generally adaptable cake in Stockbridge called Sugar Daddy's which I have been dying to try for ages because hell yes I love cake and puns. Joss knew this and gently propelled me in this direction.

And holy moly, were we glad for his propulsion. The cake! Oh my goodness, the cake. I am probably not a reliable judge of whole-spectrum cake quality given that I haven't eaten Real Flour (TM) in years, but genuinely some of the best cake I've ever tasted. And that includes child-holiday-chocolate-fudge-cake which combines sugar and nostalgia. This cake had no nostalgia in it at all (I presume, I didn't check the ingredients) and yet still tasted amazing, which is pretty special. Joss agrees that it was legit excellent cake and he gets to eat food with Real Flour (TM) in it all the time, so there you go. Confirmation. You should definitely eat this cake.

This has just turned into a love letter to cake, I'm sorry. But anyway, back to the cake. I had a nutella swirl blondie (I think?) and Joss had a peanut butter and jam slice. Also, I had that too because my puppy-dog eye game is on point. Here is a picture of the cake:

Some sort of delicious cake.
 As you can see, there is a picturesque background of mud and trees, and that is because we had a bonus B! B is also for Botanics, hooray. Eating the cake at the Botanics was an excellent plan, because we played witness to a Dad quizzing his son on long dead kings (the son's king knowledge seemed somewhat patchy given that his go-to answer was King Arthur. If that man is planning to raise a future revolutionary, they might need to have a serious talk about magic swords and dragons and their relative scarcity in today's on-the-go world). There was also a waterfall at which I could stand and reminisce about the cake. Also, there were unicorns. Toodles!

EDIT: For those unbelievers who need photographic proof of unicorns, please see below. And who are you to deny the evidence of your own eyes, eh? EH? *ends aggressive defence of a fairy-tale creature*

Image may contain: horse, sky, outdoor and nature

Friday, 18 November 2016

Alphabet dating: A

Hello, yes yes I've not written here for ages. However it's not a tamagotchi, and has not bleeped out on me for lack of feeding so we're all winners really.

In an effort to Live Our Best Life, we have started alphabet dating which is just as LAME and AMAZING as it sounds.

(At this point I would explain alphabet dating to you, but tbh you can probably work it out for yourself right? I'm just here for the inspiration baby)

We started strong with A is for Art. I would like to point out here that neither me nor Joss are particularly cultured souls. I can say, without irony, that I don't know much but I know what I like. And also, very sorry to any art critics out there who probably just bit off their tongues in rage. I should have probably warned you that was coming.

I do know that I like books, very much, and The Goldfinch from The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is currently exhibiting at The National Gallery of Scotland, so off we trotted.

The National Gallery of Scotland is very like the caves in a Pokemon game. No, stay with me. We were in the Prince's Street buildings (the academy, and the other one) and there are floors and doors and passageways everywhere. Also, art. Continuing the strong start, you see. Very focused application of the alphabet. Anyway, you can explore for ages, and you know you've missed stuff but you want to move on anyway and beat the elite four / see The Goldfinch. See? Just like Pokemon.

I actually loved the stuff at the Academy, they had a lot of work by invited graduates which was, variously: beautiful, astonishing, hilarious and magnetic, Sometimes all of them at once. Definitely go if you have the chance. I would have taken pictures, but I'm never sure if you're allowed to take pictures in galleries? So you'll have to take my word. I have already vouchsafed, I am not a reliable cultural witness. Do with that information what you will.

Then we did get to the other gallery, and there were lots of less modern art. The Painting Which We Went to See is haunting. You can see why it sparked such a great novel. I was most obsessed with a staircase though. The walls were entirely circular, and made out of pale brick, and it had many busts (presumably of notable types) sticking out from the wall. It was creepy and insane and I loved it. Unfortunately, it was also a staircase so I mostly got in people's way while I was busy loving it.

After all our art we were hungry, so we had chilli and chips and espresso martinis in the Brass Monkey. We should have probably had avocado or something, but I think we'd already made A work quite hard. Next is B, and Joss is in charge. Here he is planning. No-one mention the word 'bubonic'.

Friday, 3 June 2016

1000 paper cranes | 1000

Guys. I actually did it. I did The Thing.

This is kind of a big deal. I mean, I presume it's not that big of a deal for you, because you're not heavily invested in my arts and crafts activities. BUT it's a big deal for me. 

I'll be honest, there was a point when I did not think I would do The Thing. My Mum came to visit in April when I still had like 400 to fold. She made doubtful noises and tbh, I was kind of inclined to agree. 

But I am stubborn, and I needed to prove to myself that I could keep going. If I want to write for a living, I better get damned used to sticking with solitary creation until I've folded 1000 birds or written 60,000 words or whatever. (I actually don't know what that whatever encompasses, but I like to keep my options open.). So the last month and a half have involved some pretty intense folding. Helped along by a plumbing disaster and a few colds that kept me in the house.

I think I lost momentum about halfway through because I stopped needing a miracle. You might know I've had pretty shoddy health for the past few years, but you probably don't know exactly how shoddy unless you are one of my very closest people (hi!). This is because it is a) boring and b) gross to talk about. Last year I went to see a nice dietitian and she put me on the FODMAP eating plan and it literally changed my life. Like, the way my average today unfolds is completely different from where I was at this point last year. My health still isn't perfect but it feels like somebody giving me the reins to my life back and it is freaking AWESOME.

So it kind of feels like I have been handed multiple miracles by SCIENCE and PROGRESS and FINDING STUFF OUT. Asking for more just feels kind of greedy. But proving to myself that I can stick at something isn't about getting an extra miracle. It's about making the most of the miracle I've been given. Also, they really are very pretty (although 600 paper cranes look just about as fab as 1000. Damn laws of diminishing returns).


I need to find a new something to occupy my hands with.

BRB going to write a novel.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Not on the high street.

I've decided Christmas Sales Shopping is a bit like skydiving. Not to be attempted without training or an experienced partner in tow.

I am not an experienced and responsible partner. I would probably lose you in New Look and spend the rest of the afternoon crying into a latte at Costa (other purveyors of cheap shoes and mediocre coffee are available). I don't really do clothes shopping in dedicated shops. Most of my wardrobe comes from charity shops, supermarkets and kindly family members (who, luckily for me, all have great taste).

But I'd abandoned my precious hat in a pub before Christmas and needed to get it back. And while I was in the centre of town, I thought I'd just have a 'quick look' at the sales.

So, shops are super confusing to navigate. They have multiple doors. Multiple floors. And there are just... clothes. Everywhere. When you're running mostly on chocolate pennies and tea it is very easy to wander around bumping into clothes racks and people. To add to my discombobulation, Topshop has decided it's not just a shop. It's a shop cum trendy wedding. It's got a Photobooth! A photobooth with a wind machine in it! And there is music which I don't understand. Some of the music is about taking your clothes off, which seems like a counterproductive marketing message from a chain of clothes stores. I saw a fake fur orange jacket and thought it was probably time for me to go.

H&M had the advantage of quieter music and now sells cushions, which is nice. You can't really be intimidated by a cushion. They are intrinsically non-threatening objects. But the clothes racks are placed strangely close together. This makes the shopping experience uncomfortably like a real life Pacman, where you bumble along the maze of Christmas sweaters, suddenly see you're about to bump into a ghost / fellow shopper and have to take off sharply, lest you get in the way of another's browsing. 

I didn't even attempt Primark. The Primark shopping experience has always seemed to me very close to the experience of shopping in the supermarket. Except without the consolation  of being able to head to the dairy aisle for a wedge of brie in moments of stress.

I ended up buying a T-shirt for £2 in H&M. It's a very pretty shade of blue. And has a nice scoop back. 

And I got my hat back, so I think we know who the real winner is here. 


Friday, 1 January 2016

1000 paper cranes | 366

It's important to learn from other people's mistakes. So, here's some fresh wisdom for you: do not engage in paper craft lightly. Specifically, do not start a merry folding project and then embark on a super intense Masters course. It's like Baileys and Prosecco: the two do not mix. You get strands of coagulated gunk. Okay, so it's not exactly like any kind of drink (except perhaps desperation vodka mixing with sweat / tears at 4.03am) but it's a metaphor, right?

So yes, anyway. I have been learning lots over the past few months, including a deep and abiding love for Russian formalism (eh, yeah, who knew?) and I've been reading constantly. Which, obviously amazing, but leaves little room for paper folding. Short of mutating into an octopus with opposable thumbs and two brains and acquiring lots of waterproof paper, I'm never going to be able to combine the two. Actually, I don't think waterproof paper folds that well so even that's a bust.

But I'm still going! So I am a little behind where I should ideally be according to maths and organisation but I reckon I can make it up. Why not? Just gotta think like the octopus.

And FYI, little paper birds look LOVELY with a Christmas tree, so if you're looking for something wholesome to do with your hands, I can totally recommend engaging in paper craft. Just, you know, don't do it lightly.  

Sunday, 16 August 2015

50 shades of rip offs

Unless you are the sort of person who reflexively burns every book that comes near you, you'll probably have heard of whips'n'chains franchise Fifty Shades of Grey. You may have read the book. You may have seen the film. You may have washed your clothes with the completely inexplicable themed laundry powder.

It has undoubtedly tickled a lot of pickles, and you have to give the author credit for that. I am slightly bemused by the fact that so many women secretly desire a stalker with mummy issues and a way with cable ties but, hey, the heart wants what the heart wants. And if I have minor issues with the casual butchering of a fictional character's soul and self respect / the English language, I doubt the author minds. She is probably chuckling to herself, starting the day by chowing down on a pair of platinum love eggs before jumping in her helicopter and blowing up a library.

There will be stories in the tabloid press of the 50-shades baby boom and a whole generation of kids named Anastasia / Flogger but no-one talks about the other population explosion that this mania has engendered. That of books with black covers and alphanumeric titles. The 50 shades book babies.

There are only so many times that you can walk past '50 shades of Dorian Gray' without getting a *little* curious so here you are. I read them so you don't have to. Except just the direct rip-offs. There are many, many books which take their bondage inspiration with a twist of lemon but I do not have time for them. It's not like you can read them on the bus.

1. Fifty Shades of Mr Darcy
Because what's better than one brooding, rich literary hero? Two brooding, rich literary heroes squished into some kind of horrific brooding, rich literary hero-chimaera! Any parody which starts with Elizabeth Bennet's bloomers has got to have something going for it. This one gets full marks for a) committing whole-heartedly to mashing together two very different books and b) taking full advantage of the opportunities for ridiculousness that said mash-up provides. It loses marks for inserting Phil Collins. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from my erotic-parody-mash-up reading but he annoyed me in his anachronism.
First fumble: Page 104, but if you're after steamy scenes, this isn't the book for you. There is quite an amusing bit with a cabbage and some jam sponge though.
Good point: "50 shades? More like two: "gagging for sex", that's one and "in a bad mood"."
My inner goddess is: alarmed by the prospect of a BBC adaptation.

2. Fifty Shames of Earl Grey
Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I really hoped that this one would be a tea-themed 50 shades parody. I can't tell you how upset I was about the lack of hot beverages here. On the plus side, it was quite genuinely funny. It draws quite a lot on 'The Twilight issue'. The main character gets pregnant and her baby starts destroying her from the inside. Oh, and her friend falls in love with her unborn baby, which I think happens in Twilight too? This is all a lot funnier than it sounds, anyway.
First Fumble: Well, she kind of fellates a toothbrush on page 60.
My inner goddess is: gasping on a cup of tea, tbh.

3. Fifty Sheds of Grey
When I grow up, I want a shed like the one Roald Dahl had. With a ball made of sweetie wrappers and a comfy chair. A good shed is a very pleasing thing. And it's lucky I feel like that, because this   is just a book of shed-pictures. With some pithy garden related innuendo on the side. There is a very funny one involving slugs and some Viagra, but plot is thin on the ground. I feel like this would make an excellent Father's day present. Which is definitely not the worst thing I  could say about a book.
First Fumble: It's not really that sort of book. Your libido is very much left to do its own legwork.
My inner goddess is: browsing the garden shed section of the Homebase website.

4. Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray
Alarm bells started ringing when I saw the 'Romance' sticker on the spine of this one. And the fact that Oscar Wilde was listed as a co-author. Suspicions were confirmed when I cracked this bad-boy   open. This is not a parody. I repeat, this is not a parody. This is a deadly serious mash up of 50 shades and The Picture of Dorian Gray. It probably sticks closer to the latter in terms of plot than the former. But boy, does it run with it. Even dormant fireplaces are imbued with erotic imagery. There's a cheeky bit of incest because Dorian Gray really wasn't debauched enough in the original. This wasn't really my bag: I found the smutty bits kind of hilarious rather than titillating. But if it sounds like your kind of thing, there's *also* a book by the same publishers called 'Jane Eyrotica'. which is good to know right?
First Fumble: Page 48.
Genuine quote: "My sweet girl, let us go back into the bedroom. We will make love like angels. I will coddle you and kiss your sacred hairy parts."
My inner goddess is: demanding a blood sacrifice to the Gods of English literature.

So what have I learned? Well, I don't think I'll pick up an erotic mas-up of a literary classic again in a hurry. And several of the authors seemed to think Christian Grey is gay. Was there some sort of secret handkerchief code I missed? But mostly, I think I have now had enough Grey information to last a lifetime. Which means I don't have to read that new book written from his perspective. So ultimately, I'm the winner here. Yeah. 

Thursday, 16 July 2015

1000 paper cranes | 133

When I started this, I envisioned neat little updates on my progress every 100 birds or so. And then I remembered I'm not a digital kind of girl, and that would mean counting every time I had a bird. And there's a reason that I could never be an effective twitcher. I like birds (well, actually, I like most birds but I don't like getting too close. Something in their little reptilian eyes always looks like they're ready to peck your face off. I like animals with big eyes. It's important to get a steady ocular connection) and I like numbers, but I'm not a natural counter.

Although I'm going to have to get better at counting as I go once I get up into the 9th century or I might just overshoot. And no-one ever got anything for making 1012 paper cranes. I suspect it's probably like blackjack, and you go bust if you go over. Which would be demoralising.

So we've been going for just over a month, and I'm at 133. This is encouraging. If I keep going at this rate, then I should have 1383.2 cranes by the end of the year. Of course, this would be useless, as per the argument above, but it certainly gives scope for the not-useless prospect of getting my 1000. 

I really thought I would be able to say something wholesome about mindfulness here, but it turns out cranes don't really demand mindfulness. You just need to make sure you get your first couple of folds right and then it's basically about pulling different bits until it does what you want (Ooer missus). It's quite nice to be able to do something with your hands that leaves your brain free though. The self help gurus should write books about that. Handfulness perhaps?

I've got my first couple of 25 bird strings done, and they are flying on the back of beads and plops from my glue gun in the window. They actually make me smile every time I look at them, and they're currently flying the coathanger way, which has the added bonus of being out of the reach of Kitten, who thinks that they are alternately delicious and out to kill him (depending on his level of paranoia).

I'll update again at some other number of uncertain significance.