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What would I do…

…if I had a year off?

Oh…all sorts of things. Mainly catching up type stuff.

Firstly, I’d devote lots of time to photography. I’d catch up sorting through the various photos I’ve taken. Get rid of the dross, tart up the pictures I like. I’d take time to teach myself new things. I think I have a reasonable eye composition-wise, but I want to get better technically; learn some new techniques, further my understanding, improve what I can do on the computer – that sort of thing.

It would also be great to have more time to go out and take photos. As an example, As I write, I have 1,724 photos in my flickr stream, and of those 756 are non-geotagged (i.e. they don’t have a tag which shows you the place they were taken). This means they were taken at home. Either inside or outside. Thats quite a lot.

I feel the best photography weather often happens when I’m stuck indoors at work with half an eye looking longingly out of the window.

Secondly, I’d get to grips with my keyboard properly. (Musical variety.) There are still plenty of bells, whistles and twinkly lights that I’ve never properly sussed. This is mainly because I’ve never had the luxury of uninterrupted time to just sit there and fiddle with it. I’m normally using it because I’m doing something for the Drama group. There’s several things I’ve managed by accident and couldn’t tell you how I did it – which is annoying when I want to do it again.

Thirdly, I think I should factor in a couple of decent holidays. Apart from two nights in Norfolk in April this year, I haven’t been away properly since April 2008.

Manhattan skyline

It would be great to go away for a real break. See some new things. Breathe some new air. Clean away some cobwebs.  And of course incorporate some photography into that! Actually, the air needn’t be new. Just different. I quite like the LA air after all. 🙂 Even if it is occasionally smoggy.

Fourthly, there would have to be plenty of time for reading. Preferably sat outside in the warm – either with a nice cuppa or a refreshing beer. I have a bedside cabinet of books that I seem to be adding to more quickly than I’m getting through. It’s good to get lost in a book.

Keanu ReevesFifthly, I should draw more. As a child, I had pencils or felt tips in my hands constantly. Or more accurately (as far as felt-tips are concerned anyway)  all over my hands. 🙂  I always was more arty farty than number crunchy.  I’m not necessarily original (I feel like my head is so full of miscellaneous ‘stuff’ that it’s hard to be original with anything these days), but I’m okay at it and think I can produce fairly realistic looking end results. I just don’t seem to have enough time – it’s not a quick pastime. I wish I’d been encouraged that way a bit more. It’s kind of fallen by the wayside somewhat.

Sixthly – cooking. Yes you did read that right. Cooking. I’m mid thirties. I should be better at it than I am. I probably won’t ever enjoy it, but that’s no excuse!

Project 2007Seventhly – keeping an eye on the garden. This blog was originally about my back garden, and it’s certainly come on a lot since I started, but there’s still a few holes to finish off. I’m so glad it doesn’t still look like that. –>

After
You can’t beat a good potter every now and then, but sometimes it gets a bit ‘battle-of-the-weeds-y’. It’s hard to keep them tamed. Especially, when you’re trying to fit in work, photography, keyboard mastery, holidays, reading, drawing and cooking.

Hmmm….better make it two years off!

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All that glitters

I always reckon I’m not particularly “girlie”. I don’t care about make-up. I haven’t got a clue about hair styling. I’m not really a fashion fiend. Rings, necklaces, bracelets and other sparkly trinkets don’t really do it for me – I wear the same earrings and necklace all the time.

However, it occurred to me as I was scrabbling around the damp lawn this morning (still in my PJs and dressing gown) that I do like – if not love – some sparkly things. Nature’s jewelery!

At grass roots level

Hanging out

Wet Skirts

Natural frame

X-ray

Three blobs

So perhaps I am a little bit girlie after all.

Strange dream

I had a strange dream last night. Perhaps it was the gin I had before I went to bed.

I dreamt I was on my way to America, but the plane had to land unexpectedly in Ireland. I don’t remember why.  Naturally it did this by landing on a road and taxi-ing through a little village.

We all got out of the plane and just over the way, a couple of fields in the distance was a massive tornado. I was trying desperately to get my camera out so I could photograph it, but it was like one of those dreams where you’re trying to run and can’t. I couldn’t get the camera out in time, and then suddenly there wasn’t a tornado any more.

I seemed to be with someone from my team at work. I can’t remember who it was now – possibly Martin. We were walking around the village – including right through people’s gardens (as you do) and I remember there were several good weather vanes (I like to take photos of interesting weather vanes), but again I couldn’t get the camera out. It was only a point and shoot as well, not my big Nikon.

There was some sort of discussion as to whether the plane would have enough fuel to get it to Newark or not (which was something to do with the size of the plane – 737ish (i.e. small) – and  how high it needed to fly), and if not, how to get it fuel. I was wondering how on earth it was actually going to take off from a normal road.

And that’s all I remember.

Any thoughts on hidden meanings?

Solitude

I walked up the Wrekin – a local hill – at the weekend. It was a beautiful morning. The sky was as blue as you like, and it was actually warm for once.

I was a little later getting up there than I’d intended, but I still managed to be there in time to see the mist rolling away from the valleys below. I could practically see the sun burning it off. (Note to self – get there earlier next time.)

This little ‘lone tree’ stood out to me.

Solitude

I’m kind of like that little tree. Often to be found on my own. It’s not so bad when it’s ‘alone’. That means independent, self-sufficient, autonomous. It’s when it gets to be ‘lonely’ that it’s not so good. I’m a bit of both and it depends which way the wind is blowing I think!

I’m very used to the ‘alone’ bit. As an only child, I’ve done that my whole life – you have to be able to amuse yourself. It would be nice to be able to share stuff with someone though. I do sometimes get a bit fed-up of always doing stuff on my own. And I’ve had more weekends than I care to remember where I realise I haven’t actually spoken out loud from Friday evening til Monday morning.

On the other hand I’m not sure I’d be much good at it. I have a horrible feeling I may be too used to being on my own. I don’t exactly have much confidence over the whole arena either. I’ve never been in ‘the in crowd’, I’m not very good at trusting people or believing they might actually like me. (I think that’s a bit of a throw back to the way my mum treated me.) I still have lot of silly anxieties about things which I think would put people off. Etc etc.

Some of my friends occasionally try and egg me on to go speed dating. I can’t think of anything worse. Well…okay I can, but you know what I mean. Moot point anyway cos it’s never going to happen!! That sort of thing just feels too ‘predatory’ to me. But I turn my nose up at that and in the next breath end up thinking ‘nice person going to waste here’. My own worst enemy.

Oh well. If it ever happens it happens. If it doesn’t it doesn’t.

See that’s what happens if you go up the Wrekin on a lovely, warm, sunny morning. You end up sitting there, watching the mist burn off and contemplating stuff.

On top of the Wrekin

We all know the answer’s 42 anyway.

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.

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.