Sunday 25 May 2008

Inspired history

SG and Brennig, I'm loving you guys!

Inspiration (and, if I'm honest, time and inclination) being thin on the ground on these parts, I was delighted when I checked my TB feed this morning and found a highly acceptable idea for a post that I could pilfer from SG and Brennig.

Here goes, in no particular order:

4 things going on in my world 10 years ago (1998)
1. Finished my year abroad, left Bloke (later to become Hubby) and returned to Salford for 3rd year of degree
2. Lived in a student house with 11 other girls, then shared a flat in Bramall Court with Dickie and Tony
3. Had 3 different parties to celebrate my 21st birthday in November
4. Chose to write my final year dissertation on French voting behaviour and the far-right as a protest vote

4 things going on in my world 5 years ago (2003)
1. Had an awful job teaching English. I stuck it out for nearly six months, amazingly
2. Got my current job (back to translating, what I do best)
3. Went to Maui for Jeni & Andreas' wedding. Wow
4. Adopted Doggy!

4 things I did yesterday
1. Went to Ikea on a Saturday afternoon (am I mad?). Surprisingly few people. That's because the French are all feeling very skint
2. Walked the dog
3. Went to Stéph and Anthony's for dinner (celebrating Anthony's 30th)
4. Had a right laugh playing bowling with Anthony's birthday present (a Wii). Girls beat the boys

4 TV programmes I love/like to watch
1. Top Gear
2. The Apprentice
Actually, the above are the only two programmes I really adore
3. EastEnders (yes, I know)
4. There's a thing on at the mo' called Wild China and it's no bad

4 things I love to do
1. Play/cuddle/walk with the dog
2. Laugh with Hubby
3. Be with family and/or friends
4. Read

5 things in my bag
See here

5 favourite things in my room
1. Bed
2. Books
3. Hubby
4. My cropped jeans
5. My Maui hard rock café t-shirt

5 things I've always wanted to do
1. Get my pilot's licence
2. Have time to read all the books in my "to read" pile
3. See the Eiger (not climb it, of course!)
4. Visit the Eurasian steppe in Mongolia/Kazakhstan/etc and ride with the native horsemen
5. Learn more than 6 words of Spanish

5 things I'm currently in to
1. My vegetable plot (can you qualify two rows of carrots and some celery as a vegetable plot?)
2. Photography
3. Reading (I'm always into this)
4. Looking for a job for Hubby
5. Trying to be green

So if you too have been short on inspiration lately, please share your 4/5 lists.

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Toady of Toad Hall


Spotted this chap in the garden today. He was happily nestling in the weeds (of which there are many ) when I nearly ripped him up with the hoe. Instead I popped him in the birdbath, where he had a swim around, then moved him to under the hedge well away from garden implements. I wonder what he was doing in our garden. I mean, it's not like we have a pond or anything. What do toads eat anyway?

Monday 5 May 2008

Books of mountains

Been re-reading some books. The Beckoning Silence by Joe Simpson is one of my favourite books. Mountaineer Simpson, after twenty years on the mountains dodging death, decides it's time to pack it all in before fate catches up with him. The book is a memorial to friends lost to the mountains, to last climbs, and to The Eiger and the stunning achievements of those who struggled to put up a route on the formidable North Face in the "Golden Years" of Alpine mountaineering, in the 1930s. Simpson and Ray Delaney made their own attempt at the famous 1938 route up the face but retreated after the weather turned and a party climbing above them fell to their deaths.

This book fascinates me. Is it Simpson's fascination with the Eiger that infects me also? Maybe so. I mean, I've read Harrer's The White Spider, supposedly the last word in mountaineering and Eiger literature. But while it is a gripping tale of epic feats, I never read and re-read its passages in my mind for days after like I do with Simpson's book.

Joe Simpson is possibly best known by the general reading public for Touching the Void, the story of how he survived several days in the high Peruvian Andes, with a shattered knee and left for dead by his climbing companion, struggling out of a crevasse and across a glacier to make it back to their camp and to safety. It's a fabulous book and a truly gripping story. You really do wonder if he's going to make it out alive, somehow forgetting that of course he did otherwise you wouldn't be reading his account. But I like The Beckoning Silence more.

Go on, have a read.

Sunday 4 May 2008


Yesterday we had a grand day out in London. I managed to get up jolly early and off we sailed (with Cocotte, Doggy and Hubby) for the white cliffs of Dover, zoomed up the M25 and parked for free at Lakeside. Yes, it's not especially central I know, but I ain't paying 30 quid for parking. Plus we got dirt cheap day returns with unlimited zone 1-6 travel so it was a double bargain. Yay.

We went to Tower Bridge:

Tower Bridge

We saw the huge queues for tickets to the Tower of London:

Queues for the Tower of London

Lucky we hadn't thought "hmm, let's visit the Tower of London", eh?

We spent rather a lot of time on the Tube:

"Mind the gap"

We stopped off at some little-known monuments:

Big Ben

And I spent ... not very much money at all. I went in Selfridges (Pink shirt) and Next (linen trousers and a top). Who'd have thought. And I didn't even set foot in Waterstone's (always a good way to avoid book-buying, because if I go in, I buy). But I bought two books on the boat. I couldn't help it. I was sort of overcome.

Doggy was absolutely the most best-behaved (and, naturally, beautiful) ever seen on the Tube. She was even allowed to come shopping in Selfridges where all the assistants swooned over her (she has that effect on everyone). She really was such a good dog.

We didn't get home until half past midnight (having risen at 5.30am Sat morning) so we were all pretty knackered but we had a fab day out. I don't know why we don't do it more often. Oh yes I do: requires 1 tank of petrol; requires dog-sitter or trip to vet (to be charged to give her the same worming tablet we give her at home); high-risk of retail spending; requires getting up stupidly early. Still, it was indeed a grand day out!

PS - we didn't go on Eurostar because Cocotte is quite claustrophobic and that much time in a tunnel, under the sea would just have been too much. Plus they don't allow dogs. And we hadn't arranged for a dog-sitter.

Creativity-free zone

The lovely Princesse, like me, is a Flickr-er recently started a 365 project. I thought the concept sounded fun. For one year, you take one self-portrait a day, and post it to a Flickr group to share with many thousands of people doing the same thing. The full "rules" are here. I can do that, I thought. So I somewhat ambitiously signed up for this self-portrait malarkey. Thus far I have posted pics of my hands, my feet, my hands, my feet ... my ear (?). Dear readers, surely you must be more creative than I. Any fun ideas for self-portraits??