Monday, 21 September 2009

Photos from Mum's Farm

I just wanted to post these photos I took of Mum's place. It is so beautiful there - typical English countryside. I love it so much - hay, apples, damsons, roses - gorgeous.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Shake that Funky Thang!

So, somewhere back before the road-trip, I had made a promise to Beth that I would try out her sport. Beth is my friend that plays the trumpet, and also for some unknown reason, goes belly-dancing. What was I thinking?

There were about 15 women at the class, some of whom I recognised. Beth seemed to know everyone, as you do. Elaine (as in Frank and Elaine) wandered past, carrying a badminton racket. I think the black-haired woman on the back row was the same person who had bullied my life into misery when I was a teenager. I hope she didn't recognise me. Either way, I didn't introduce myself.

The class is run by Pam, whom I've met before, over the years, during different exercise classes. She is earthy and funny and tries not to take things too seriously. I like her. She handed out scarves with jingly coins on, to newcomers like me. They are for wrapping around your hips to give that extra noise when you shake them.

This type of belly dancing is the Turkish style, she informed us, not the Egyptian sort. I can't say I know the difference. It is certainly a style of dance designed for men to watch, rather than for the ladies doing it to enjoy. One track we danced to (apparently modern Turkish pop) was called "Let me see you bounce". Nothing left to the imagination there, then. Fortunately I was wearing a sports bra!

So we shimmied and shook our hips and rippled our protesting stomach muscles for the best part of an hour. We waggled bits and thrusted hips and made the scarves jingle. It was quite good fun, and thankfully the youths playing football on the other side of the hall took no notice of us at all.

I ended up feeling supple and limber and only mildly sore. I may even go again, though I doubt if I'll be practicing at home or anywhere else people can see me, for that matter.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Haircuts, Damsons and Daddy's Socks

My friends Frank and Elaine came over on Sunday. I've known them for about forever. Elaine has finally got her thyroid medication sorted out and she's lost nearly four stone in the past three months. She must feel so much better. She certainly looks more like the old Elaine we all know and love.

Frank is doing well too. He is Saskia's Godfather, but he handed out cuddles to both girls and fended off the attentions of Pal (who loves him in a different way!). Frank used to be a hairdresser, a long time ago, so I roped him into trimming the frizz off the bottom of my locks. I have a nasty feeling the last time I got my hair cut was in India, over a year ago. No wonder I have split ends.

Today, I wrote more stuff I hope to sell, and then picked the kids up from school and went down to Mum's. The damsons are ripe and nearly falling off the tree, so I spent 20 minutes picking a bucket full, with Mel, Saskia and Eartha helping. (Donny had gone to Brownies.)

What to do with 15lb of damsons? It has hardly made any difference to the tree, which is still dripping purple fruit. I made three crumbles at Mum's to try and use some of them up. We had damson crumble and custard for tea.

The purple juice from the damsons, mixed with the yellow custard makes a particular maroon colour. When we were little, we used to have stewed damsons and custard. We would mix it up so the whole thing was a uniform maroon, just the same colour as one particular pair of Dad's socks. We called the desert "Daddy's Socks". The name stuck and for years we have had Daddy's Socks for afters, much to the confusion of any guests.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Cryptozoology, friends and tennis

The stunning achievements of this week include finally watching a DVD I bought two years ago on a whim. One of my favourite films is A Knight's Tale starring the late Heath Ledger. One of the supporting roles in that is played by Paul Bettany, who I've seen in other things. He is the star of the current film about Darwin (Creation, is it? I've not seen it yet.) Anyway, he also starred in a film called Wimbledon.

It is notably about a lawn tennis player who goes all the way to winning once he falls in love with his female counterpart. Whilst Paul Bettany and Kirstin Dunst do their best, the plot is thin, lacking all but the most predictable twists and humour. Still, it was watchable and I'm glad I finally found time to stick it in the DVD player.

Yesterday was mostly taken up with visitors. Kate, my climbing partner, popped in for a coffee, and then our old friend Peter came for dinner. We've known Peter for ages. He is a fascinating character - interested in various world religions from Voodoo to Native American, ex-mayor of Bewdley, and the man that conducted our wedding ceremony all those years ago. He has been out of touch for a few years, so we had a lot of catching up to do. It was really nice.

My plan to get two days work last week failed miserably. I spent lots and earned nothing. Whoops! I did write an article on cryptozoology, which I hope to sell to some newspaper or other, but we will have to see if I can. Cryptozoology is the study of "hidden animals" - in other words the beasts of myth and legend, such as Bigfoot or fairies. Some people are still out there, looking for evidence of their existence. Anyway, I wrote all about it and we'll see if someone wants to pay me for my musings.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A Life of Coffee?

The week is speeding past and the supply agencies have made noises along the lines of "well, it is the first week back... we don't start getting any requests for teachers until at least next week... they all know you are available..." Ah, phooey, guess I get an extended holiday, then.

So, I've spent the week lurching from friends to relatives, drinking tea or coffee with them. It's been rather nice. I went on an extra-long walk with the dog this morning. I started off at the school after dropping the kids off. I must have taken a wrong turn in the woods, because I ended up at the visitor's centre about an hour later. Mum came and rescued me and drove me back to my car. Then, we went and had a cup of tea (surprise!) and listened to the dog panting for about an hour. He slept all afternoon (poor thing!).

On the job front, apart from the lack of work from the supply agencies, I have seen a couple that I'm going to apply for. One is in teaching, at a Pupil Referral Unit for kids that can't cope with mainstream school. Dealing with challenging children might sound a bit like hell, but the maximum class size is five. It's as much counselling as teaching, and I guess on that front it is far more rewarding than mainstream teaching.

The other one is working in conservation, advising farmers how to protect the wildlife on their land. That would use my MSc and PhD knowledge and would be really good fun. I'd get to travel and research information and help organise habitat and species conservation. I would so much like to get that one. We'll just have to see what the universe has planned for me.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Ungrateful Swine

Why is it, that my dearly beloved husband can feed half the meal I cooked for him to the dog because it was "too much" for him, and yet here he is, scoffing a bowl of cereal, not two hours later?

Is it me?

Or maybe my cooking?

He's getting Weetabix for dinner tomorrow.

Not Really Achieving Anything At All

I've had this weird feeling of dislocation this week. Shouldn't I be somewhere else? Like at work? The kids have been back at school for two days and I've achieved not one jot of the list of things I promised I would do when I had a bit of time to myself.

In fact, instead of sending off lots of applications and writing tons of new prose, I have visited friends and drunk coffee and wandered in the forest with the dog, enjoying the wind on my face. I went out to the cinema last night and watched "The Time Traveler's Wife" with my friend, Sarah. It was good, but lacked the poignancy of the book. Mind you, most books are better than the film, and this was an exceptionally good book to try to live up to.

I suppose I should get a job at some point, but the urgency is still not there. The cash supply will run out soon, so I really should care...

I still believe the universe will provide and I still have no idea what it has in store for me.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Good luck!

This made me laugh. I saw it in a collection of funny signs.
There are a whole lot of mangled translations into English here.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Oops - shoes.

I've been starting the unpacking - taking it slowly. The kids don't have to be back at school until Monday and I am gloriously unemployed for a while. I haven't even managed to open my post yet. Tuesday we went and bought a whole set of school shoes for everyone, partly because their old ones were getting too small and partly because Mel had left his in Poland anyway. Bit of a trek to go and get them. Anyway, after that all we have done is rest. I've unloaded the suitcases and returned the pod from the top of the car to Karen.

Tuesday night I went over to a friend's house. She has just moved in and needed some help, so I lugged wardrobes up the stairs and added moral support in sorting out the house. Last night I went rock climbing with another friend. We usually go on a Wednesday. Kate climbed Ben Nevis for charity last weekend (1300m). It is something I'd like to do too. Unfortunately, it is at least a 5 hour drive from here, so it isn't something you can do in passing.

Today, it is midday and some of the kids are still in their pyjamas. We are just resting up after the holiday, getting some playing in.