Archive for August, 2009

Memories

Some days stick in your mind. On June 3rd 1980, when I was getting on for 6, I got off the school bus and arrived home to find the front door wide open – which was unusual. My mum was waiting for me in the living room. She was sat on the armchair nearest the patio door. She pulled me onto her lap and told me my daddy had died in a car crash. (When you’re 5 it’s still “daddy” isn’t it.)

As a result I don’t have many memories of my dad. These are they:

  • Him pushing me on my swing – feet first. I always thought that was brilliant.
  • “Helping” him reverse the car off the drive in Stirchley. (Probably my earliest ever memory since we moved to my current home when I was 3.)
  • That he would sometimes be in bed at odd hours of the day because he worked shifts.
  • Playing doctors with my dolls. He wore his lab coat (he was a metallurgist). I remember getting one doll’s hair caught in the hair dryer and panicking and him sorting it out.
  • I remember a couple of arguments between him and my mum. I don’t remember what they were about, but I remember my mum pulling me onto the sofa with her.
  • He smoked.
  • Him drawing. He could draw reasonably well – so can I.
  • Him on the piano.  He could play and pick things out by ear – I can hold a tune.
  • Ripping paper off the walls of the house I still live in. One wall of what is my room was papered with layers and layers of magazine posters.

These are all silent memories. I can’t remember what he sounded like and I wish I could. I got excited a few years ago when I came across a cassette recording of my mum and dad’s wedding. Yes, an audio recording. Apparently that’s what they did in the early 70s. However, when I played it I couldn’t hear anything of him. So, that’s something else I seem to have in common – being quietly spoken. Amusing but being extremely disappointing at the same time.

My dad’s funeral was 9 June 1980 – I didn’t go to it. I have a feeling I didn’t go to school either. I think I spent the day at the house opposite where my friend Emma and her brother Chris lived. Emma would have gone to school as she was a year older. Chris wouldn’t have been at school since he was a year younger. I remember having beans on toast for tea at their house though. I wonder where they are now. (Emma and Chris I mean – not the beans.) My first cousin was also born that day.

I don’t miss my dad – I don’t remember enough about what he was like to be able to if you see what I mean.  I think I miss the idea of having a dad. Cards at birthdays and Christmas, someone to show me how to put air in my car tyres and check the oil is okay, someone to pop round and put up that shelf or move that heavy whatever for me, etc.   (I’m sure there’s more to being a dad than helping you do stuff though!)

My mum did not have the best of tempers and I often wonder if he went off for a drive late at night to cool off after an argument. I have to admit, after my mum died, having been the on the wrong end of her tongue more times than I care to remember (for no reason at all mostly), I kind of assumed that must have been the reason and put him as the wronged party.

I’ve since learned that he may not have been quite the evenly balanced person I had in mind. He seems to have had certain “issues”. He was apparently terrible with money and had run up a lot of debt and made nasty threats against the bank manager etc. I guess this is probably what the arguments were about. I was disappointed in him when I learned this. Not quite the long-suffering person I’d imagined – but I guess he was just human with faults like the rest of us.

While my memories of my mum aren’t exactly fond, I’ve been ‘grown up’ long enough now to appreciate that it can’t have been easy being a single parent. She sorted the money mess out. I knew nothing about it. I was aware we weren’t quite in the same financial league as my friends, but I never ‘went without’ or anything – I did plenty of activities – dancing lessons, piano lessons etc. We had holidays, etc. I never went hungry or without clothes or anything!

Anyway… that’s all in the past. I’m just being a bit self-indulgent. I’ll leave it here.

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Shopping

I’m not a fan of shopping – especially during the school holidays. I lack the shopping gene – the thing that makes it fun. Sometimes I think I fancy going to the shops, but once I’m there I don’t generally have the patience for it. I seem to become invisible (except to the people who desperately want to do that threading thing on my eyebrows) and it’s impossible to walk anywhere in a straight line etc etc.

There was one little incident today that brightened things up. I bought a few things at Asda, including a bottle of wine, and before she checked it through, the girl asked me how old I was.

This has happened to me a few times in the past but I thought I’d managed to grow out of it – the last time was in Marks and Sparks three years ago. I know shops do have to check and I appreciate why, but I’m 35 now – which is a bit alarming in itself. I can’t look that young any more can I?

Apparently so. Flattering and embarrassing in equal measures.

She was a trainee – and I suspect I was quite possibly twice her age. It took a bit of a battle, but I did manage to persuade her in the end (only because I’d happened to get a new phone today, and my DOB was in the paperwork for that – although that’s not official proof). Daft thing is, I won’t even be drinking it. It’s part of a birthday present for my aunt.

Life…

…is bittersweet sometimes. Ho hum.

Just….

…..8 or so hours to go and then I will have 10 days of freedom!!!

Yay. 😀

In Styal

Warning – this post may contain some exaggeration. 😀

I did this at the weekend – except without the tour guide or the hearty picnic.

Styal Expedition

I went out with the Shropshire Community Flickr peeps on Sunday. As a group, we hadn’t really managed a proper meet since May, so I was looking forward to it. The destination, as you may have guessed, was Quarry Bank Mill in Styal, Cheshire.  The day dawned dry – which was a good sign – and I was picked up and whisked on my way shortly after 9am.

For quite a few of us, not much photography happened on the day. I think it’s fair to say some of us were mainly there for the social side of things. Plus the light was a bit ‘meh’ and as handsome a building as the Mill is, we were finding it tricky to get inspired. (This is my only decent photo of the day – and it’s quite heavily photoshopped.)

Dandelion view

Things perked up after lunch for some of us when we decided to go for a happy amble by the River Bollin. We bumbled along from the Mill up to where the Bollin meets Styal Road. Rain had been forecast for the afternoon, but the sun decided to come out instead which inspired us into finding a different route back on the other side of the river.

Things started off fine as we followed a well trodden path which formed the boundary between a rugby pitch and the wood that the Bollin wound its way through. At some point we decided to abandon this path in favour of tramping our way through the middle of the Bermuda wood.

At one point we mysteriouslyended up where we’d already been once. If Steve hadn’t recognised a discarded drinks can we’d already passed, who knows – we could well still be there going round and round in a never ending circle. By now we would have sacrificed the first group member to feed the others.

Someone (I think it may have been me) spotted what looked like a different path in what appeared to be vaguely the direction of the mill. So off we went.

It was nice and easy to navigate at first, but when we started passing through holes cut into wire fences, we should have perhaps realised that we weren’t really were on a “proper” path.

The route got gradually wilder and wilder. Cameras were stowed back into bags for safety. Near vertical slopes were clambered up and down and down and up again with only weak looking saplings and twigs to cling onto for support. We would lose sight of the Bollin, then send out a Scout to find it again. Finally we were defeated by undergrowth so dense that moving forward ceased to be an option.

To one side of us was an open field with a farmhouse in plain view. The field was presumably not meant to be traversed by the general public as an electric fence ran round the perimeter. Half of the group were in favour of jumping over or under said fence and playing the ‘we got lost’ card if the farmer appeared waving a big stick. The other half were still pursuing other options.

Then came the words that sealed our fate.
“Look – the river is down there.”
“I’m NOT going down there.”
“What…down that practically vertical bank?”
“I’m NOT going down there.”
“Yes – and look – there’s the path we need to get back to.”
“I’m NOT going down there.”
“What – that path that’s on the OTHER side of the river?”
“I’m NOT going down there.”
Yes – and how fortuitous – that tree has fallen over and I think we can use it as a bridge back to the path.”
“I’m NOT going over that tree trunk.”
“Oh, it will be fine!”
“I’m NOT going over that tree trunk.”
“Don’t be silly – you could drive a bus over that tree trunk!”
“I’m NOT going over that tree trunk.”

Sadly for one half of us, the other half were apparently mountain goats in a previous life and bounded off down the hill in seconds, unhindered and apparently unconcerned, by the thought of falling over and bashing the ££££££s worth of camera equipment we were carrying.

The said mountain goats then pole nimbly vaulted over a sizable hole between hillside and tree root before running back and forth over the damn tree trunk several times (including twice blindfolded, and once doing cartwheels) just to prove how easy it was.

Looks like we were going down there after all.

To be fair – it was all very amusing (to the point of mild hysteria in a couple of cases). Verity and I made our way slowly down the bank – accompanied by a variety of squeaks and squawks each time we slipped a millimetre or so. From the noises we made, David who was ahead of us at that point, was sure that at any second we were going to lose our footing and come tumbling down the slope behind him and take him out in the process. Fortunately that didn’t happen.

After a quick no-nonsense look at the pathetic face I was pulling, Steve chucked me across the pole vaulting hole rather than make me actually pole vault it. Here’s Verity at the same point.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetaker/3831173601/sizes/m/

Then it was just the trunk to face. I just couldn’t do it on my feet though. After two of the tiniest steps ever, I knew I’d end up in the wet stuff if I attempted any more. So….I opted for the bum-shuffle method:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetaker/3831955860/

That’s Steve behind with his hand on one hip and tapping a foot in exasperation at my slow progress. 😉  I may have uttered “I don’t like this!” several thousand times in between giggles.

At least I wasn’t the only one who employed this method though. (Sorry David!)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/snowy5/3830937746/sizes/m/

You’re probably looking at that and wondering what all the fuss was about. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time though. Brilliant. Thank you guys for a great afternoon. 😀

Quick garden update

I’m not sure quite what this blog is about anymore, but for a good while it was about me messing around in my garden (hence its title).  Anyway, I thought I should post a quick update as there are one or two kind souls who have asked me about it.

As a reminder, cast your mind back to…

March 2007
Project 2007

Yes – I quite agree – complete nightmare. Anyhoo, I think I have made some progress.  Here’s a couple of up to date pictures. The first is from June 2009, and the second is this weekend just gone.

June 2009
Garden Update 1

August 2009
Garden Update 2

I’m quite pleased anyway. Some bits are still a work in progress, and the turf I lovingly laid is now about 80% clover (I counted – I seem to have 4 different types) so I need to do something about that once I get the energy.

Rhomboid

This week I made my first entry to show photos at an exhibition. It’s the idea of the tutor of my photography courses this year (Christophe Dillinger). The exhibition is in Grenoble in France, and is called “Square in Grenoble”. This is because the theme that all photos must be submitted in a square format, and the idea is you will show 9 photos in a square layout – 3 by 3.

I was interested in it as soon as he told us about it – but he did actually ask me to have a go as well – so I have. I fully expect not to be selected, but hey – gotta give it a whirl eh?

My tutor picked a few of my photos (from ones that I’d brought in as ideas for the coursework) and then said he wanted to see some more of the same sort of thing. So I’ve picked a few – after much agonising – and put my entry in one day last week. The closing day for entry is today.

So if you’ve been following my flickr stream and wondering why you’ve been seeing square mosaics appearing. That’s why! This one is my final entry.

My creation