Saturday, April 28, 2012

Beware of the blog it creeps

One of my funniest and most treasured memories was sitting down one afternoon to watch a video taped 'horror' film The Blob, about which I knew nothing.

I pressed play on the video player, settled into the sofa ready to be terrified and then Burt Bacharach's amazing theme tune began and I screamed with laughter, dragging everyone from around the house to listen to it:

I highly recommend listening to it and singing it throughout your life.

I sing it now to my son who's name isn't Bob but I call Bob anyway:

Beware of the Bob it creeps, and leaps and glides and slides across the floor,
Right through the door and all around the wall
A splotch a blotch (of sick)be careful of the Bob

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My car is made of cheese, that is why I drive so Caerphilly

We are still waiting for our mortgage application to be approved..... hopefully we will hear yes or no next week. If the answer is no, I don't know what happens next. I suppose we apply to another mortgage lender and hope the seller doesn't get annoyed with waiting. If yes, I will be disbelieving and ecstatic. We drove past the house today and the sign already said 'sold'. I felt so nervous.

Through this whole house buying process I've not had the slightest lingering doubt about the house itself. It's a very ordinary three bedroom terrace with small bay windows in a cheap South Wales town. The garden is on two little levels and is south facing so there is a lot of sun (hur hur, Wales). The kitchen is at the back and the bathroom is on the first floor. It's not too big, not too small. It's nothing special or different but we had a good feeling about it when we walked through the door, probably because it's been immaculately renovated by someone with enough good taste to insert minimalist slate fireplaces. I can imagine my son running around in it happily and that's good enough for me.

Caerphilly is a strange place. It's a small, typically valleys town, except it isn't in a valley, it's on a flat area just north of Cardiff, between some small-for-Wales hills. The strangest thing is that smack bang in the middle of it, right next to a grotty shopping arcade filled with Clinton's, 99p shops and Gamestation, is one of Europe's largest moated castles. It is extraordinary to drive past Morrisons and old working men's clubs turned into gyms and suddenly come across this huge place.

I couldn't believe it when I first saw it.

I have little clue what we are going to do with the house if we get it, the only thing I have mentally decorated is my son's room. I know what things I want it to have, what a den of amazing toys it is going to be and the shade of yellow it is going to be painted.

I've never lived somewhere I could decorate before, except choosing ill advised paint colours (pink once, then light green and duck egg blue together) for my bedroom growing up.

The only other thing I know I am going to do is go to IKEA, buy lots of small cheap frames and frame up all my old postcards, paintings and strange pictures. I have so many interesting papers buried away in books and folders, I want to finally display them in our dining room, our living room, our hallway. I have a vague picture in my head of my decorative style, it involves a cacophony of shelves and cabinets of fascinating objects and meaningful images, and a lot of the colour red, but I don't know if this is going to happen properly.

While we wait for that to happen, here are some pictures of Tredegar House inside:

 The Gilt Room

 Vanity Fair


The Gardens

 The Orangery

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The inevitable slide towards personal blogging, god help me

I didn't start this blog to write about myself, I had this sort of idea that writing about things I enjoy would be enough, but it's turning out stunted. It's a strange thing, what happens when you have been writing about your life online for ten years, it becomes so hard to break from what you already know and your lovingly constructed blog becomes a series of 'I's'. I think I'm just going to go with it...

I've tried to write about things rather than myself before, but no one was interested. I know what I don't want my blog to be. I don't want to be a lifestyle blog, a baby blog, a bore senseless with accounts of my day blog, an angst fest, a blog with artful photos of my sandwiches (there's Instagram for that). I suppose I would like to share knowledge and meet new people in real life.

I want this blog to be a record of the music and books I love, a record of things I want to do and the things I'm inspired to achieve or how I'm achieving them. Writing for me is inherently personal, and I want to get personal enough to be of interest to others, but not personal enough to lose my job.

When I was 18, just before I started university, I felt an overwhelming feeling that I was going to forget this part of my life forever unless I kept a record.

So I began a kind of scrap book, keeping every concert stub, every train ticket, every letter from every friend, every love letter from every boyfriend, every missive from boring pen pals, every passage from a book I liked, every note passed in lessons, every sign left on my uni hall door, every doodle, every sticker, many written transcriptions of important texts, every drawing, all my deranged late night writings cut up later in horror - I cringe to look back at most of it but I'm so glad I have it, it reminds me of who I was and the people I loved. The pretentiousness of being a teenager, the laziness, discovery and poor decisions of university.

I also have a diary I kept when I was 10 and thought I was the middle class, rural Southern English version of Anne Frank. It covers my transition to Secondary School and how the worst thing about my life was having to play in a netball match. It feels so important to have a new start every now and again so here it is.

We are moving house soon (..'inshallah'..) and I want to redirect my life after this move to be more sustainable, to spend less money, to not buy new things and to learn about gardening.

This appeared on my tumblr feed from and although it's very dramatic, I do agree with the sentiment. It's from here originally.
"The less we participate in this abusive economy, the better. 10% unemployment is deplorable. We need 90% unemployment. If we really resent this system, let’s earn less, buy less, and own less. Let’s invest our time, energy, and resources in things that can’t be taxed or parisitized by corporations. Let’s deal not in dollars, but in energy, nutrients, materials, local currencies, and relationships. Let’s not expand, let’s stabilize. Let’s enjoy art, culture, and leisure. Perhaps we can topple the pyramid by shrinking the bottom.
Our work is this: We’ve got to make clean water available wherever rain falls. We’ve got to make food grow so rampantly that you can’t give it away. We need to build affordable and debt free housing. We need to start creating opportunities where we live so we don’t have to drive. We need to wrest control of land and resources away from powerful minorities. We need integrative, sustainable methods for managing land. We need to ranch in a way that makes game more abundant. We need to farm in a way that makes forests grow. We need to use energy in a way that generates peace and stability. We need to strengthen our social bonds.
If you still have a job, get everything in order, and quit. Do it as soon as you can, because we’ve never had a more important work to do."
It's easy to call me a terrible hypocrite and I absolutely would agree that I am. We are attempting to borrow a large amount of money from a huge bank to 'own' a house, it's inconceivable that we could ever not work, our work centers around computers, electricity and the virtual world.... but I am still optimistic that any effort is better than none. Something that I want to get more involved in that hasn't particularly been a part of my life before is community. I want this move to be a new start for me in contributing to a community.

I have done so many things I always wanted to do, I moved to Wales (not a lifelong goal of mine it must be said but represents some kind of break from East Sussex and all that entails), I have been to Mongolia, I've busked, I'm in a band, I have given birth, I have got a job, I have a stable life, a lovely environment and money - I've got to give more back now and be an example for my son.. that's the most important thing.

Here are things I've been looking at in preparation (it's easy to prepare... but not so easy to actually do):

Just for the Love of It: This is a site by the terribly attractive man who lived without money for a year, and wrote/filmed about it in The Guardian

I've been fantasizing about urban gardening and tiny patio green houses. I am 90% definitely going to buy one of these. After we purchase such necessary things as sofas... blinds... washing machines of course.