Hugh managed to get preview tickets to the first Cambridge preview of Transformers at one minute past 12 on Friday night/Saturday morning. The film's ACE - proper comic book movie, with lots of shooting and awesome aliens. Yay. You have to go and see it when it comes out. Yes. You.
Saturday was Angharad and Steve's wedding, in St Michael's Manor in St Albans. It was a lovely day, and the weather even held off long enough for them to do their photographs. I haven't seen a lot of those people for several years, so I spent the day trying to re-attach names to people I've known very well in the past and done shows with and everything, but whose actual NAMES wouldn't come out. Bah. I'm clearly old. The party in the evening was in the theatre - weird to be back there, too. I've visited it a few times, but not everyone I wanted to see has usually been there, so this was really good. Strange though - that was the place I spent more waking hours than I did in my own house when I was at school. Erk. Going back is going to be strange. I will go back to the theatre, because it can still give me things and people keep suggesting me things I could do, which is lovely. There's a part of me that's not sure about the whole idea though. The Abbey Theatre represents a massive chunk of my past and some of my happiest memories, but their from a past I don't particularly want to be stuck in. At the same time, I don't particularly want to be stuck where I am now for any length of time, either. Bah. I know I'm not making sense, here. I have an issue at the moment with wanting to do anything - like go out anywhere or do anything that's not with my usual crowd of friends (for this purpose, those are Hugh, Andy, Kate, Lara, Rob and Carl). That's not to say I don't get on and enjoy the company of anyone else, but I worry and um and ah about going out. When I *do* go out, I usually enjoy myself provided I don't drink, I just find the idea of going really unpleasant. I've lost any will to put *ANY* effort into it. Hope it comes back. Slightly worried about that at present...it's not a great symptom, really.
I took Eleanor up to Oxford on Sunday. Good job we went when we did, and I'm very glad I didn't stay longer given the chaos over there now with the floods and everything. I didn't actually see any water in Oxford, apart from in the Cherwell, which was running REALLY high. There were punts that were clearly tied to the original bank with their noses stuck down in the water at 45 degrees and their back ends in the air. It was still getting higher until yesterday - I think the warnings are in place still, but it has started going down I believe. When I was driving out, there were flooded fields, but the roads were still clear. Apparently on Friday when all the rain came down the M40 had been closed. That was what did it though - on Friday, some areas had three times the normal rainfall for the entire MONTH fall on one day. Nice.
I went up to Chatteris to see the little house on Tuesday. I'm glad one of me and my brothers has a useful memory of the place now - I doubt David even registered it exists. I suspect it'll stay rented for a few more years yet, at least, until one of us actually wants to buy somewhere. In the meantime, it earns a reasonable rent, and will earn a bit more when we redecorate it and stuff.
Other than that, I've spent this week packing. Gah. And I need to finish that today and do the cleaning. *sigh* I hate moving house.
The weather's SILLY. Actually great fun though - enormous thunder storms that last seconds, then proper July sunshine. It's annoying, because I haven't spent ANY time lying on any grass, which means my Italian tan has more or less entirely faded. I'm keep meaning to give it a shot, but the trouble is I don't live right next to any grassy patches, such that I could run inside when the heavens open and not get drenched. I live close, don't get me wrong, but probably not close enough. Bah. Might give it a shot this afternoon though - need to get out of the flat for a bit.
I went to do the double bill of current kids films yesterday; Shrek 3 followed by Harry Potter. (*SPOILERS FOLLOW*) Both good fun, but distinctly lacking in plot. Shrek was more or less as expected - they need to flesh out events a bit more. There was a bit in a high school that could have been quite fun, but got skimped on, and in general the whole story went by so quickly that they were missing the chance to make it really entertaining. Bah. Harry Potter was actually similar. The book (The Order of the Phoenix) is really long, and they clearly had to pick highlights and put them up. They were, I think, relying on viewers having read the books a) to follow the story and b) even to understand who was which character. They changed a load of plot points, clearly for time reasons, such that events have different meanings and people do different things. The only bits I thought they did at all well were the DA meetings - I thought the spells were done really well and it was great to watch. I also loved Luna Lovegood. I know the Irish thing is a stereotype and it was slightly annoying from that point of view (see below), but she was great to watch and generally lovely. She wasn't what she is in the books at all, and she gave the whole film a Lord of the Rings air, but if you accepted you weren't really watching Harry Potter anymore, it was good.
The thing that annoys me most about the films is when they change things that seem to me fundamental in the books, particularly the ordinariness of magic in the magic world. Luna shouldn't be fey and beautiful, she should be like the weird kid in every other school. Kingsley Shacklebolt shouldn't be dressed in north African robes but should look like every other British wizard character except be black. Wizard society reflects the makeup of the rest of British society - yes there are people from different ethnic groups who wear traditional clothes all the time, but there are more who are second or third or even more generation, who wear western clothes and have ordinary UK accents rather than the accent of their ancestral country. It's something I think Rowling goes out of her way to suggest in the books - there are poor families and rich families and families from various ethnic backgrounds, as well as the muggle-born and the pure blood wizard families. I can deal with them changing things so long as they don't change the world too much, but that annoys me.
They weren't that good, as they stood, actually. They needed more cheese, and possibly mixing an egg through them would give them a better texture. As, probably, would frying them. Still, a reasonable idea. I've done a similar thing with mashed potato before - the idea is sound in principle but needs fine tuning.
Nicked from the day in pictures on the BBC. AREN'T THEY CUTE?? There was a baby snow leopard from Berlin zoo on there last week sometime, and I wish I'd thought to keep the picture - it was hissing at the camera and gorgeous. I've just been hunting for it, but I can't find it anywhere.
This is something I'm part way through, so I don't know yet exactly how it'll taste. Will let you know tomorrow!
Ingredients 2 tins beans - cannellini beans ideally, though I'm using one tin of those and one of butter beans since I didn't have two of the former. 2 smallish red onions, chopped 1 large tbsp chopped parsley 1 tsp french mustard - grainy would be nice. 200g strong cheddar, grated. 1 egg, beaten 120g bread crumbs 2 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper
Method Fry the chopped onion in 1 tbsp of oil over a low until lightly browned. Drain the beans thoroughly while the onions cook - they need to be pretty dry. When the onions are done, mash the beans roughly with a fork and combine both with the cheese, mustard, parsley and season with plenty of pepper and a little salt (the cheese is already salty). The mixture should hold together and have the texture of stiff mashed potato. Form it into 12 croquettes, each about 2 inches long and an inch in diameter. Combine the breadcrumbs with the other tablespoon of oil. dip each croquette first into the egg and then coat in breadcrumbs, pressing them so that they stick. Chill the croquettes until you're ready to cook them.
The bit I haven't done yet: Place the croquettes on an oiled baking sheet and drizzle with a little more oil. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C until brown and crispy on the outside. It'll probably take about half an hour, I imagine, but I'll let you know...
Serve with a sweet chutney or some caramelised onions, and some veg/potatoes.
Die Hard 4.0 on Wednesday was great - hilarious. Shooty shooty die die films are clearly the best. Though John McClane finds the 'die die' bit nearly impossible. And does the shooty bit by throwing cars at helicopters. Was great. We went to Chiquitos in the chavplex afterwards, and had a really rather passable meal, for the price we paid. They refused to give us the advertised student discount when we asked for it though, which rather spoiled the evening. Carl wrote a nice complaint letter asking for the money back after we read the advertisement for said discount a bit better, so we'll see what happens with that.
I trekked off to St Albans again yesterday with another car-load of stuff. I was cocooned in binbags before, almost literally. I couldn't close the door or see much of my floor. I'm getting on with it though. I've basically got the plant stuff and the fish and some bits left to do, so I'm more or less where I wanted to be by this stage. I'll pack up the plants and compost and bits and pieces and then leave it for a few weeks I think, now. I have to go to St Albans for a wedding next weekend, anyway, so I can take it down then.
I discovered that someone else I know (Hugh, guess who? (but don't spell it out...for anyone else)) is going for the job I'm going for. Bah. She IS more experienced, at least in some things, and hence gets most of the roles in Cambridge that we both go for. I don't know how much other experience she has, so I'm not giving up completely. Still.
I bought shoes yesterday, finally. My nice old flipflops fell apart in Italy, so I needed something comfortable and presentable to wear for the summer. After much searching and liking of the feel of the Hush Puppies, I decided I didn't like the actual look of them, which was a bit of a shame. In the end I bought some Birkenstocks, on the basis that they're usually pretty reliable and are good shoes for more or less every purpose I'm likely to have in the summer. I came to the conclusion that it's worth spending money on decent sandals and a decent pair of boots, since I wear one all summer and the other all winter. Other shoes are more or less incidental. Not that these were horrendously expensive...just more than I usually try and spend on shoes. I like the colour though - they're a sort of bronze which will hopefully mean they go with more or less everything I own.
I've spent a quantity of today packing. I HATE packing. My room is an absolute tip and I need to do something about it. It's probably about time I made another trip to St Albans, I suppose. I shan't bother with the boxes, because since I filled them I've been into them for more stuff, but there are black bags full of clothes and soft stuff I could leave behind. I'm making progress though - I've got garden stuff and a bit of kitchen stuff still to do, but all that's left after that is the clothes I'm likely to need for the next month or so (which includes a wedding and a week in France!), my computer stuff, and a few other bits and pieces. And the plants and the fish. You know, the small things. *rolls eyes*. I'll take the fish to St Albans when my brother's back from Egypt so he can feed them. I'm not entirely sure I trust him with plants, but he'll probably be ok with fish.
Apologies for the brain dump - I needed to plan things a little bit. I'm going to put real clothes on (as opposed to the scabby tracksuit bottoms and comfortable old vest top I habitually live in at home) and wander over to Cineworld to meet the others to watch Die Hard 4.0 and have dinner and that kind of thing.
I went to Ashwell today, to see Olive. Ashwell's my home, if anywhere is. It's a truly beautiful village, and very old. There are cottages still inhabited that feature in the Doomsday book. This wall is pretty ancient, though I'm not sure exactly how old it is. It's made of wattle and daub, and the top is randomly thatched. The bees love it - the whole thing is basically a hive. When they restored it recently, they had to be really careful and only do it at times of year when they wouldn't disturb them. The hollyhocks cover the whole village, and are spectacular in the summer. I've seen colours there I've never seen anywhere else - like a peach colour, or a red so dark it's almost black. There are even double ones, but they don't breed true. Olive was saying that there are people who collect the seeds these days and sell them.
Olive took my by surprise by feeding me lunch...sadly my vegetarianism hasn't reached the ears of vast numbers of my family or old friends yet. Bah. This resulted in a slightly uncomfortable scene. Meh. Olive is very easy to offend, and I'll probably get an earful from my parents about it. It never occurred to me she was intending to feed me though - she never has before. Anyway. I had the vegetables and she had the casserole, and it could have been worse, I suppose.
Also, I split my good jeans. I'm annoyed about this. I've done my best to fix them, but whatever happens I'm going to need new ones soon enough. Meh. I also need new shoes, particularly flipflops since I broke mine in Italy. Clearly, this is going to be expensive.
I finished my shawl! I've been making it for a while, and just got around to finishing it off. Isn't it pretty?? I was sort of uncertain about the colour for a while - it's a bit yellow, really. It's sort of undyed wool, but bleached, so it's quite bright. I'm keener now though - I think it'll go quite well with most of my brown stuff. I can always give it to my mum if I decide the it is wrong; it might be a bit old for me, if you know what I mean. I was also debating the number of tassels. I could add about the same again between the ones I've already put on it. Any suggestions? Incidentally, sorry for the mess you can see around, but I'm in the middle of packing.
Oh, and the lemonade? With the grapefruit, you need less sugar, but it's really rather nice. :-)
Here I am! I know I've been hiding progressively more over the last couple of weeks, but I wanted a proper break from college and stuff, or at least from most of the people associated with that. If I've told you where I am right at the start, you're special - ditto if you made it onto new msn (don't stress, I haven't finished adding people to that yet). Should there be ANYONE else who cares enough to ask where I've gone, just get them to email. I won't keep everyone out, and anyway this is an unlocked blog now so hiding things won't happen in the same way, but I do want to have a purge a bit and this appears to be the kindest way I can do it.
Since the last lj post I made, going to Italy with the choir was probably the main event. Finding out my passport was out of date 12 hours before I flew was not a highlight, put it like that. I had to miss the flight with the choir and go into London to get an emergency speeded up passport and another flight that evening, at the cost of an arm and a leg and considerably more than a month's rent. In the end my dad offered to cover that, but I still feel bad about it. I was in such a state that people kept telling me to sit down. When I went through security in the passport office he told me to take my water through the machine rather than putting it through the x-ray because apparently I 'looked like I needed it'. I have never had a more stressful day, EVER. I was feeling really stupid for the not realising the passport was out of date thing (I HAD looked at it - I remember doing it - about a month before, and presumably just went 'this is in date, isn't it?'...because it WAS then, just wasn't by the time we came to fly. Meh.), and then I was feeling bad about what I was costing my dad, and THEN there was the stress of how I was going to get across Milan when I got there, since the airport was about 100km and the whole width of the city away from where I needed to be. All that added up to a Jazz that was right on the very very edge of a panic attack and hysterics the whole way over. When I *DID* get to Milan, I discovered there was a train strike. I ask you. A train strike. Crap. Anyway, I got a bus into Milan Centrale from the airport and then a kind lady found me pretty much crying in the entrance and showed me how to use the metro. I got all the way over to Rogoredo, nearly at the end of the South Easterly line and where I was hoping to pick up a late train to Lodi from, before I really accepted this train strike thing. Then I was stuck, because there was nobody around. I really didn't know what to do then. Eventually I stopped a bus driver, who talked at me in German for a while before seeing that that wouldn't work. He pulled me onto his bus and sat me down, and took me off to the bus terminus at San Donato. He and several other bus drivers then waited with me until a cab came and I got that to Lodi, at the cost of 60 euros (or £40). Ouch. I have NEVER been more pleased to see Simon B-S and Graham at the other end than I was then.
Everyone, including me, was pretty impressed that I got there that quickly, but the sheer stress meant that I spent the next day in bed. Was a bit of a shame because I missed one of only three concerts on this year's tour, but I did have a great time bumming around in Italy and eating nice food when I was better (despite insect bites so big it looked like I'd sprained my ankle), so it could have been worse. Simon and David and I foodied it to the max in Parma, and Catherine and I shopped in Milan. The tour song was comic, even if I WAS singing the tenor part I can't really sing.
I've mostly slept and listened to audiobooks since I came back. I'm really trying to get the rest I haven't had for the last three at least years before I launch myself into work. What with one thing and another, I never really recovered from certain events during my university career, and frankly I don't want to have a breakdown 6 months into my first job. I AM in the process of applying for that first job though, despite the rest thing. I wasn't going to, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Zoe Curnow (my baby brother's bass teacher, former ADC manager and now my careers advisor) sent me the heads up, and it IS a perfect job - even getting an interview would be a real boost. It's for production administrator at the Donmar Warehouse - a perfect position for me. Anyway. Need to finish that I suppose. And incidentally get up.
I just made proper lemonade! Yay! Well, more or less lemonade. It's also got a grapefruit in it because I had one.
Recipe Ingredients: 6 large lemons, or 4 lemons and a grapefruit. Or Equivalent mixture of citrus fruit to give a similar surface area, if you see what I mean. About 150g granulated sugar.
Method: Wash the lemons. Pare the zest from 3 of them (potato peeler's good for this, if you don't have a zester, and frankly who does?), trimming any white pith from the strips afterwards. This is slightly laborious, but it's essentially the only bit of effort involved in the whole thing. The pith is bitter, and makes the lemonade taste yukky if you leave it on, so it's pretty necessary. Add the juice of all the fruit to the prepared zest and add 1.4l of boiling water and the sugar. Cover and leave overnight. Taste for sweetness, strain and chill if desired.
I'll let you know the actual success tomorrow, when mine's matured.