Feed on

It’s Sunday, we return home after a climbing session in need of a shower, but our boiler has gone kaput and is not providing any hot water.

We decide upon a bath, filled with hot water provided by our kettle. We imagine that we will fill the bath, one of us will bathe, then re-fill it with clean water for the other.

I start the process;

Fill kettle

*Click* kettle on


When hot, walk kettle from kitchen to bathroom

Empty into bath


After numerous kettle runs there is barely an inch of water in the bath.

I put our largest pot on the stove and start heating water there too.

Back and forth I go. Boiling and filling, boiling and filling.

30 minutes in, and the bath is now an inch and a half deep.

I empty a kettle of water into the bath. At this moment the filter in the kettle decides to fall out into the bath allowing, lets be frank, years worth of gritty limescale to fall into the water.

Bordering on mental collapse I decide rather than freak out, the limescale is clearly going to be a good exfoliator.

As I re-fill the kettle and put in on Jol, seeing my frustration, offers to take over bath filling duty.

I go and sit in the lounge for a while. I hear the kettle boil. Nothing happens.

I return to the kitchen to discover Jol is helping by making himself a snack.

I reach over his cold meat platter and pickle to get the kettle. “I’m doing it!” he declares through a mouth of ham. I empty the kettle into the bath, return to the kitchen where he takes it off me, and I leave him re-filling it in the sink.

I decide to play “Scoop the Scale” It involves sticking my hand into the bath, trapping as much limescale under it as possible, and drawing it out of the water, catching the scooped limescale in a flannel before it can slide back down the side of the bath into the water.

I am proud to say this technique actually removes a good deal of the scale. Yay me.

I also notice that during this time Jol has not entered the bathroom with any water.

I walk through the lounge, where Jol is sitting finishing his snack, into the kitchen, where the kettle sits, unboiling.

I switch the kettle on, and it starts to heat up. I explain to Jol how this final stage tends to help with the actual heating of the water.

It takes an hour to get the bath about a quarter full. We decide this is good enough, and that Jol having a bath in my dirty second hand water is totally acceptable.


Work Avoidance

You know the one.

There’s this thing that you have to do, and suddenly everything else becomes incredibly important; laundry, making lunch, sorting out that other thing, cups of tea, milk! you should definitely nip out and buy some more milk.

I have been experiencing this with having to write blog posts.

Why I am having resistance to writing I do not know. Funny thing is, once I start, text flows forth from my fingers in some kind of magical way, but before I start, it seems like an impossible task.

But resistance I have. I have spent hours, hours, looking at templates for wordpress, because it’s very important this blog looks nice right? So instead of writing the blog, I should totally waste time checking out the literally hundreds of options available to me, rather than actually writing the thing.

Accounts. I have actually resorted to my finances in an attempt to put this off. Which isn’t a totally terrible thing. I had been putting off sorting those out too, so my avoidance of blog writing has at least fixed my avoidance of accounting.

It’s not like I don’t have anything to write about either, just see my post about my awesome note taking, but even though I find myself saying “I don’t know what to write about” I also spend a significant amount of time pondering something which I feel would work as a post, to the point where I narrate the post in my head. This is all well and good, but my head is not the page, and when I am faced with the blank new post my head goes “Nope, sorry, nothing here” even though I told it all those great ideas only a while ago!

So, just be warned, instead of new blog posts in the future, you might just notice the site changes it’s outfit as it tries on new templates for size instead.


Tags: , , ,

50 Shades of No

I have not read nor seen the film adaptation of 50 Shades of grey.

This means that I really have no place in having an opinion on it. How can I express my disgust at something I have not actually consumed?

I am not here to write about the negative impact (or otherwise) of 50 Shades’ content. There are others who have put themselves through the (ahem) torture of reading/watching this odious thing, who have written more knowledgeably and eloquently than I. Links are below and you should give them a read.

The reason I have not read nor watched it is the point of my piece here.

The film has taken £84 million so far. The book; 4 million sold in the UK with a 3 million re-print to keep up with demand, and 15 million in the USA and Canada. It’s the fastest selling book behind Harry Potter.

No people, NO!

While I am sure author EL James is happily being spanked on her piles and piles of money, setting notes on fire to alight the candles that will soon be dripping wax over various body parts, I am also sure there are many, MANY other authors who deserve your financial support more.

I am certain there is other erotic fiction available that is… you know, actually good.

And this is my point.

When you buy a book, when you purchase your cinema ticket, you are endorsing the product. You are telling the people who are providing this entertainment or merchandise – Whether it’s a shitty book, a crappy movie, a badly made product, an unethical manufacturer, a corrupt banking institution – whatever it is that you are giving your money to – you are telling them YES! Yes please do more of the same. I like this thing you do, you should do more.

And here’s the thing people, you might think “Ahh hell, it’ll be a giggle, a group of us girls going to see a stupid movie for valentines! we’ll go to a bar for some cocktails and then, hohoho, go see a movie with people doing naughty things to each other, hehehe”

There are better things to do with your time. There are better things you can do with your money.

And I don’t mean ‘invest well! you want to be comfortable when you reach your pension age!’, I mean, support creators that are making good work. Companies that are producing with ethical standards.

We have power. Where we choose to spend our hard earned pennies tells providers what it is that we want, and because the providers want our hard earned pennies, they will listen to us.

So I did not buy the book. And I will not watch the movie. Because I do not want more poorly written, badly acted movies with disturbing messages like this to be made. By following the money the producers have been negligent.

Put your money where your pouty, lip biting mouth is.


Say no to abuse. Boycott 50 Shades of Grey, the movie: sign the petition These guys even started a petition (which I signed) before the film was released. It’s a shame so few people signed it. When I signed they were 2/3rds of the way to their 150k target. Millions of people gave money to read and watch 50 Shades, but not even 150,000 people would put their name to something that says “Do no advocate abusive relationships”

Even the co-stars of the movie think 50 Shades of Grey is awful The cast think it’s shit; what does that tell you?

I Dated Christian Grey: How Women Are Groomed For Abuse

A Letter to My Children About Fifty Shades of Grey

A Psychiatrist’s Letter to Young People about Fifty Shades of Grey

6 real quotes from ‘Fifty Shades’ that could make you rethink how you feel about it (A very clickbate-y title, but it is from upworthy so…)


Tags: , , , , ,

Yesterday was Saint Valentine’s Day.

A day which appears to be about the purchasing of certain items; chocolate, flowers, cards, jewellery, lingerie, shoes, small bears holding hearts with “I Luv U” embroidered on them, edible panties (technically a different category from lingerie) His & Hers matching onesies… etc, in order to show a person that they mean something to you.

It could be genius. It might allow you to behave like an apathetic uncaring jackass all year, then rock up on February 14th with a bottle of Champagne and a twinkle in your eye to ensure your beloved that actually, it’s all ok, and you do quite like them really.

Finally, being surrounded by the comforting hot water of the bubble bath that has been drawn for them while being fed chocolate covered strawberries, your partner feels validated and decides to forgive the 364 days of neglect because, hey! Barry White is playing!

It’s not that I Hate this day of Love. It’s that I am very indifferent to it.

I. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

And so I have never participated in the meals out or… you know, the other stuff.

One of my most memorable Valentine’s Days was the one where Jol and I moved house. It’s the only reason I remember the day we moved in.

The other was when we went for a morning jog, Jol suffered his first pneumothorax and we spent the day in A&E, he was moved to a ward and discharged a week later.

In our 14 year relationship, those are the only two I can recall.

And I imagine people might feel bad for me, that I don’t have 14 fabulous Valentine’s Day memories of restaurants or hotels or pretty gifts or what have you.

But really, what memories do most people have of this day every year? Do all the meals merge together? all the little trinkets become indistinguishable from each other?

What I remember is shortly after we started dating, and Jol realised I loved shiny things and could be distracted easily by them, he gave me a glittery tassley stick. I have no clue where he might have found it or what purpose it actually has. It is a shiny resin stick with silver bendy wire with stars and tassels exploding from one end. I love it. It is still sitting on my dresser.

I have no clue what day he gave it to me.

And all the times he has returned home from some event I didn’t attend, with a piece of cake wrapped in a napkin, squished flat, potentially stale from being left in his bag a few days (when he forgets he bought it home for me) looking utterly unappetising, and it fills my heart with joy. I scoff that dry compressed napkin cake and every bite tastes like love.

So you can keep your one day a year, because I rather like experiencing being loved in the little ways all year round.


Tags: , , , , , ,

Take Note!

At a loss for what to write about this week, I noticed an old blog post draft called “Blog post ideas”. As the title suggests, I created this draft a few years ago (when I was planning on writing more) as somewhere to collate any ideas for posts I might have.

What I have discovered is; I have no clue what most of the notes mean. Written in a, quite frankly, half arsed way, with very little detail, this collection of random summaries and disconnected jottings mean nothing to me anymore.

Ohhh, when I wrote them I believed the words I had chosen were enough to relay the message to my future self.

I was mistaken.

I would have to say, I don’t think Past Me realised the Future Me that would be trying to use these notes was going to be quite as far into the future as I am. I think Past Me thought Present Me would be more on top of this writing business, and get on it faster than I did.

And if Past Me had been correct about that, then maybe that ShortTermFuture Me would have still had a clue what Past Me had meant. But as CurrentQuiteALotFurtherIntoTheFutureThanPlanned Me, I have to say: Past Me, you should have made better notes.

Some samples:

  • having to cook as well! too much. i’ll eat whatever (serves up sautéed yak testicle with slug sprinkles id have something to say – but within reason)
  • spider in pants
  • dippy eggs – small eggcups -dissolving- so many plates – bacon sandwich and fried bread
  • lady cabs – you are not a woman. football traffic. odd route home. strange bloke sharing cab.

See? How are these supposed to mean anything to anybody?

Except the one about the spider pants. That I remember. I’ll keep that for another post 🙂


Tags: , , , , , ,

I have been climbing for about 3 years.

Jol found a 2 hour taster course at The Castle Climbing Centre, which I was not convinced about participating in at all but, in the spirit of trying new things and because Jol really wanted to, did.

The first time I tied in, I got about 5 feet off the ground and freaked out. (I am completely higher than I am tall! It’s like I am stood on my own head, only there is nothing below me! This is Not Natural!)

I persevered, partly because we were only about 30 minutes into the taster course, and partly because Olly, our instructor and a bear of a man, made it clear that I needed to keep going, that I was safe, and I had to… “Just Stand Up!” (The call of the Olly.)

Two hours later, with “Just Stand Up!” ringing in our ears we left planning to do the 4 week training course.

Taught by the lovely petit Susie (good for me, seeing how someone my stature climbs, rather than someone twice the size of me) over the next 4×2 hours she taught us all we needed to know to be competent and safe with Top Rope Climbing.

We were let loose in the centre. We started to climb regularly enough that instead of hiring gear from the shop, we bought our own. (Also, having your own shoes is so much nicer than borrowing rental shoes. You know?) I saw my grade rise from 3 to 6a. We started bouldering. The next step was clear.

Lead Climbing.

With Top Roping, you are tied in to the rope on your harness. The rope goes from you, up to a secure clip at the top of the wall, then down to your belay partner, who controls the rope as you climb. You are absurdly safe. If you fall, it might be about a quarter of a meter.

With Bouldering you do not wear a harness, there is no rope. The walls are shorter and you move around freely. Slightly scary without the safety of the harness, but since you are never very high the fall is never very far, the ground is very soft, and you learn what you can get away with.

Lead Rope Climbing is sort of a combination of these. You wear a harness and are tied to your rope. But your rope goes directly from you to your belay partner. The wall you are going to climb has clips running up it that as you climb, you hook your rope into. Your rope always behind you, rather than above you.

The first clip (called a quick draw) is often 8-ish feet off the ground. This means that for the first section of the climb you have no safety net (much like bouldering). You clip your rope in, and for a moment you have the sense of security Top Rope give you, but you quickly move on and then you have a floppy rope behind you till you reach the next quick draw.

What this means is every few meters you have to stop (hanging onto holds, arms and legs shaking), pull the rope up (which gets heavier the higher you get) and clip it into the quick draw. Which is exhausting. Then, if you fall, it can be a considerable distance. If you fall after just clipping in, it might only be a meter fall, but if you are between clips, or just below the quickdraw you are aiming for, it could be 5+ meters depending on the slack in the rope and the weight difference between you and your belayer.

And as a belayer, being pulled up the wall is not unusual.

Jamie, who taught me to Lead, explained how when he climbs with Olly (he of taster course and bear like stature) and is belaying when Olly falls, sometimes they can high five each other as, like pendulums, one goes down as the other goes up.

Lead Climbing is different to Top Roping. Having Lead only twice (combined 5 hours and about 10 routes experience) I am finding it difficult and terrifying. It pushes me right to the edges of my comfort zone.

It makes me love Top Roping all the more.

And still. And yet.

It reminds me of how I felt when I first climbed a Top Rope. The tension I am holding my body in is all to familiar. And so I want to do it more, because I feel like I am sort of starting to understand it. It is different; You have to climb differently, use your body a bit differently, learn how to stop with comfort while taking your own weight and not relying on the rope (and I do love hanging on the rope).

My grade has plummeted on Lead Rope, but you know what? When I practiced Top Roping I got better. Good even.

So… Here’s to the next Lead Rope session!

Tags: , , , , ,

Fostering community spirit turns out to be much harder than you would think.

I run a small community garden project. Part of the land in the Garden I work at is given over to the “MiniPlotters” a group of people who, in return for participating in communal tasks, receive a plot of land (a Mini Plot) to grow in, for the grand total of £Free.

Allotment spaces are rare in London. Waiting lists are 10 years long, or closed completely. To be able to enjoy growing in your own small plot, for nothing but dedicating some of your time is, I believe, an amazing thing.

Every year a MiniPlotter is asked to sign a new contract, illustrating their commitment to keeping their own plot in good growing order, and to come to at least one of our community days every other month. That’s it. One day a month, six times a year.

And what amazes me, is that people seem unable, unwilling or uninterested in doing this.

I realise that having an allotment, a growing space, has become very trendy recently, and that people think it would be great, but underestimate quite how much work it actually is. Because in reality folks, not even including joining in on the communal days, just looking after your own little 1×2.5 metre plot of land can take up more time than you imagine.

During the summer, in peak growing months, you need to check your plot weekly (Ideally, if you are actually growing things!) And even in the winter, when there is less obvious productivity, the usual tasks of weeding, compost turning, leaf raking, wood chipping paths etc are still there needing to be done. Even though it’s cold. And not nearly as nice to be outside.

The communal space that our Mini Plots are in is ripe with potential development. Since I have taken over the project I have, with the help of the MiniPlotters, built more beds and compost bays, and have more plans for expanding.

And each time I arrange a community day, and I list out the tasks that we can do, how we can work together to develop the space, things that I consider incredibly exciting (Lets take the sloping piece of land behind the shelter, the one that people dump rubbish in because it looks like a shit hole, let’s tidy it up, terrace it, put in propagators so we can sow seedlings and expand our growing space! We’ve inherited some irrigation tubes, lets lay them, it’ll save time watering! Let’s cut down those massive over grown buddleias so we have room to put in a storage shed for all the pots and canes and other garden-y paraphernalia that gets dumped in corners and blown around the garden space!) I expect people to go “Hellz yeah! That sounds cool! Let’s totally transform our communal space into a more awesome place to be!”

But instead… I get dismal turn out.

Today, even with the awareness that they have new contracts to sign, only six of our twenty four MiniPlotters came to the communal day.

And the lack of turn out is not only disappointing because – where in the f**K are they? But also because it means all the development plans take longer, the “Many hands make light work” idiom is true! Especially when trying to shift several tonnes of woodchip, for example.

And I find it exhausting. To try and rally people, to encourage them to be as excited, engaged and invested in the space as I feel the community deserves.

Because it is an amazing opportunity to be a part of. To take a space and bring it to life. To work together as a group, and care about the people who manage the little plots of land around yours. To tend to other peoples plots because they are away, to enjoy that feeling of success and togetherness bringing change to your environment brings you.

And instead I find myself having to be “The Bad Guy”. I remind people of the contract they signed, of the (quite frankly) small commitment they promised to make. I mean, I’m not an asshole, if people have issues and need time or help or have valid reasons for not being able to participate that’s totally fine. But more often than not, it feels like people just seem to not consider it as something they need to bother applying time or thought to.

I’m not really sure how to finish this post – it feels a bit moany really (sorry about that dear reader, but I guess that might just happen now and again)

Community Spirit. In my mind our community comes together to enjoy each other and working on our shared space together. That in this big city of anonymity, we are a group of strangers that have become a group of friends. That we spend time together, we sow too many plants and share them with each other, and when our plots produce food we share overflow and create meals together out of our harvest to sustain us.

I wonder if this is really attainable.

2015 – Year of Community Spirit?


Tags: , , ,

It is Saturday. I am writing this one whole day early (though I feel I should not limit myself to writing on a Sunday with an “Oh fuck, it’s blog writing day!” attitude). This is because we are being unusually social, and I actually don’t think there will be time for me to write this tomorrow. But also based on what I just wrote there is brackets, it’s also because I don’t wish to restrict myself to a narrow routine and want to open up my writing into a more spontaneous activity.

Or something equally pretentious and bullshitty.

Last September some fucker stole the back wheel off my bike. I mean really. What an asshole right?

It was kinda ok though (in a “This is TOTALLY NOT OK” kind of way) because my bike was over 10 years old, held together with gaffer tape and cable ties and weighed a ton (well, 20-ish kilos. But still, that’s like riding along on 20 bags of sugar, or bags of flour, or… 20 other bags of things that weigh about 1 kilo) So I was considering buying a new bike anyhow. The sudden lack of rear wheel rather expedited that thought.

I did some research. I test rode some bikes. I wanted something comfortable that was good off and on road, that was preferably light enough for me to carry up 4 flights of stairs to my flat, that didn’t cost too much.

There were a few contenders, but I just seemed unable to make a decision.

Then the nights started drawing in, and cycling to work didn’t seem like so much fun because riding in the dark is a little scary. Especially if part of the ride is on the parkland walk which by day is a beautiful woodland path, but by night is a corridor of creepy fear, murderous beasts and certain death.

So I put it off.

Then; January sales!

I looked back over my previous shortlist, and chose one.

Just like that.

We took my old bike to bikeworks and donated it to them so they could strip it for parts and give it a second chance at life. Then onto the bike shop for the purchase of my new bicycle.

It is yellow.

A little, fairly lightweight, hybrid with locking suspension.

Go me and my new wheels.

Tags: ,

Sunday Fail

It has been one of those days.

Where things don’t go quite as planned.

We set the alarm last night with the plan to wake early and go climbing first thing.

I do recall the alarm going off… but then we ignored it for… well, hours.

We finally woke up and I remembered we had planned to have cherry pancakes for breakfast (inspired by the reduced cherry’s we had bought from the supermarket yesterday), I had fed our sourdough starter last night, it was ready to go and I started slicing and de-seeding the fruit when…

No eggs.

We went to the shop yesterday. We stood in the aisle with the eggs. We had a conversation about eggs (do we need eggs? ‘shrug’ don’t think so, ok) But on our kitchen counter? No eggs.

So Jol very kindly throws on clothes to go purchase them.

We successfully have breakfast (better late than never and quite frankly cherry pancakes are good any time of day) manage to waste more time (but it’s a Sunday, wasting time on a Sunday is acceptable, if not a necessity) finally have showers (because if you are planning to leave the house eventually one really should try to be clean) and finally leave to go climbing, but bump into our neighbours at the bins (like you do) and while Victoria and I (yes, my neighbour and I share a name) struggle with the various bags of recycling we are putting into the over full, out of the way and difficult to reach bins, the boys stand and discuss all things manly with their arms crossed… or something. After we go our separate ways, we reach the climbing centre to be greeted by many, many people and it’s a struggle to find to find a free wall.

But it’s all ok.

Because Burritos.

And a tasty dinner can make a slightly wonky day feel straight again.

But then, just as I am thinking of going to bed I remember.

Blog post.

It’s Sunday again. I need to write a post for this week.

So this is what you get folks. The whole day has been slightly not as planned, and consequently so is this post. A bit slapdash and not quite as planned, but it’s here and so that’s ok.

2013: Year of the photograph

In 2013 I set myself a challenge. I can’t recall now why a 365 day personal challenge was a good idea, but clearly it was, because I decided I wanted one.

A 365 Project. A photo a day. Every day. For a year.

The deal I made myself was this; Every day I will use my nice new iPhone to take a photo. I will use Instagram to share that photo across various social media platforms. I must take the photo on the day I post it.

I found it difficult at first. Sometimes I just didn’t know what to take a photograph of, really, my life didn’t seem that visually interesting.

But then I started looking. Really looking. And the world I lived in became more visual, I started to notice things I wouldn’t have before. I experienced the environment around me more.

I had to get over my fear of stopping in the street and taking out my phone to take a picture of… whatever it was. I felt very self conscious about it. But I became emboldened with time and it became easier.

I was proud of myself when the year was over. I had done it. Some of the pictures weren’t that great, but some of them were really nice. Sometimes I took more than one, I started to see so much around me that I kept taking pictures.

On New Years Day I happened to download a new app on my phone. A drawing app called Brushes. It was a lovely little app that was incredibly good with a lot of features for something that was free.

I drew a picture, posted it and asked jokingly “what do people think, an illustration a day?”

Yes, replied people.


And so.

2014: Year of the illustration

I started a new 365 Project. An illustration a day. Every day. For a year.

The deal I made myself was this; I will use the brushes app on my iPhone to draw an illustration. I will use Instagram to share that photo across various social media platforms. I can draw the picture whenever I like because, quite frankly, having to draw the illustration the day I posted it seemed a little too challenging for me. As long as some illustration got posted every day I was good. To start with I included work in progress samples in addition to the Illustration A Day. As the year wore on I decided that work in progress samples were acceptable as an actual Illustration A Day themselves. At the beginning of the year I also started to post a weekly series called Catfuscious. A series of computer drawn comics about a wise cat. This did not last long. I couldn’t, at that time, sustain an Illustration A Day plus work in progress plus Catfusious comic.

I had thought a Photo A Day was challenging, an Illustration A Day was super hard. Several times during the year I had “I can’t do it!” moments. The time it took me, thinking of ideas; what the hell can I draw now?! But I never gave up, because I wasn’t willing to let myself down. I wanted to do this.

I started by making illustrations of photos I had taken the following year. After a while I hit upon a series of illustrations based on the works of famous artists. Monet, Matisse, Magritte (All the ‘M’s!) Klee, Lichtenstein, Hockney, Pollack, Chegall, Emin… I started learning about new artists, discovering new beautiful works. Trying to mimic their styles through the digital app; charcoal, water colour, gouache, etc, was an incredible challenge. It started to make me want to try this stuff for real. Get my hands on a real paintbrush, splash colours onto an actual canvas. That didn’t happen. But it still might… I worked out that spending a lot of time on an illustration was all well and good, but doing something quick was great too, and a series of line drawings emerged. I liked these because I could bank a few, in one drawing session I would bang out a few quick drawings, and then I could have a few days off.

It made my finger ache a bit.

As the end of the year approached The question started to be asked.

What will you do next year?

Nothing. I thought. I could do nothing!

I mused on ideas with friends. Nothing felt right, but I had a feeling. Writing. I had thought I might blog once a week; a 52 project.

Until New Years Day. When I thought: Haiku. a Haiku A Day.

Damn it.

2015: The year of the word

I found another app; Notegraphy. A lovely app that has beautiful typography. Although, it really could do with more customisation options, I’d really like to be able to alter leading and kerning, font size and so on. But maybe that will come if the developers feel so inclined.

So, I am four days in to my new 365 project.

And because I had thought about it before, I am also going to try blogging once a week too. But you know, don’t hold your breath…

I finally started a tumblr for the 365 projects to go to, and I am slowly loading in the last two years of images.

I have visions of doing a 365 every year till I die… Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.


What have I learned from all this?


That in support my mother will ‘like’ every single one of them.

Thanks mum.


Older Posts »