Friday, 31 August 2007

Busyness, sort of.

Well. Much chaos. Excuse the messy desk - it's tidier now, but Tolly was trying to help me type. Cleo had her op, which went fine, though she's less than impressed at having to wear a lampshade and take pills. Tolly's been the funny one though; he's been absolutely all over us, demanding attention and playing and all sorts. I think he's been quite lonely, especially to begin with when Cleo would only hiss at him any time he came near her. He's been chasing down newspaper and flies and all sorts of things, not to mention my leg and my fingers. The one I like best is below (though they're all much of a muchness), but there are more here, here, here and here. He's a silly kitten. Sorry about the messy room - I was busy tidying at the time, and Tolly was assisting, by deconstructing the newspaper.

We went to see the LLAMAS on Friday night! They're SO COOL. The two we're probably getting are called Pepper and Brandy - Pepper's dark brown, and Brandy's a mix of ginger and cream with a skewbald face. They're boys, and will be somewhere over 18 months old when we get them. That won't be til Autumn/Spring, because we need to fence the place properly and build them a shed and the like. YAY LLAMAS. We'll need to do a fair amount of handling of them, and train them to take a head collar properly so we can walk them in the woods. LLAMA WALKS. YAY!!!!

I've been staying at the Village Hall in Paul with the Pinafore cast for the last couple of nights. I went with them to the Meadery in Penzance on Friday night, post llamas. (People have been asking me about whether I was REALLY late because I was at a llama farm. I could say yes. How cool is THAT??) This was a very silly evening all round - films again here and here. This was not the half of the debauchery that went on. Very entertaining.

I spent Saturday making Becky Thomas a birthday cake, of which I'm actually quite proud - large and pink and filled with strawberries and butter-cream. Excessively sickly and very pink, but that was the specification. I sang with them in church in Paul this morning, too. Nothing MASSIVELY exciting - Stainer's I Saw The Lord - but it was really nice to be singing with a big group of big voices. I didn't stick out! Yay! And so many men, and I didn't have to sing tenor, though I did sing second alto, which is actually pretty similar, because there were more sops than altos. Nice. I'm heading back with them tomorrow to see Twelfth Night at the Minack, and then to deliver timps on Tuesday, and then to see the talent night and cook ANOTHER cake on Wednesday. Lots of drifting about Cornish roads. I'm beginning to think I should just stay there all this week, but it seems a bit harsh on my family and I do want to see my animals.

Erk. I'm SO tired, despite all I've done today was the service this morning and lying on a beach reading all afternoon...

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

True Cornish.

Hemmick sunglasses
Originally uploaded by hazelsheard
True Cornish lazing, that is. I went walking with my dad on bank holiday Monday, with the dogs, while my mum went diving from Hemmick beach. This picture is taken from somewhere along the South Coast Path above Hemmick beach, through my sunglasses. The sun wasn't low enough to take it without, even at the fastest shutter speed. It's an odd effect - when I look through the glasses, the colour doesn't all leach out like this. If anything, the glasses intensify it. The sepia's quite pretty, but I could have done that with a filter on the camera itself, I think. Also note the awesome spider web we found. They put ponies out to graze the cliffs at quite a lot of places round the cliffs, but this was the first time I've actually seen them.

Cornwall's not a happy place to be on a sunny bank holiday though - everywhere was rammed. Hemmick is down a very steep hill and on a road where the wing mirrors of an average car touch on BOTH sides. When people park in all the passing places and you have to reverse straight up a very steep hill and the road is that narrow, it's an issue. People are dumb.

I went to see the Minack crowd yesterday. I pootled around watching them rehearse for a bit, and then took Salvador to Tescos. I ended up staying for dinner and catching up with people, and then in the pub playing silly card games. Hopefully this time I'll remember the rules of mafia - I really should, it's awesome. Had a great evening all round, even if I did feel a bit spare part-y. I'm going down again tomorrow, on commission from Becky Thomas to bring her ingredients for a birthday cake.

I finally got the eye test today I've been needing to get for ages. I'm entirely unsurprised to be given a prescription for glasses for driving - short-sightedness is usefully hereditary. Grr. Ah well. TV and driving only, as yet, so could be worse. My right eye still feels weird, I think from the glaucoma test where they puff air at you. Anyway. I'm stupendously poor at the moment, so had to talk nicely to my dad to get him to pay for them. Meh. I have to work harder at getting a job...I just can't bear to. I have sent a few emails to a few people about work experience/placement type things, but I've not really looked very hard and I haven't sent the begging letters I need to. I'll try and get a Stage when I'm in town tomorrow, though I'm not sure where to look. I do know that the other person who went for the Donmar job didn't get it either...which I'm not exactly pleased about because it was an equally perfect job for her as it was for me and I would have been pleased for her if a little jealous, but it did make me feel slightly less inadequate. Meh.

Took the cats to the vet today - Cleo has a lump on her stomach which the vet pronounced to be a massive umbilical hernia and which needs almost immediate operation. She's apparently extremely lucky that it's not caused her any problems as yet, especially considering she's been living wild. The kitten has a gender...definitely male, as I was fairly sure. The family seem to have accepted my naming of him as 'Tolly', short for Ptolemy, which goes nicely with Cleo. And Tolly is a perfect slightly silly name for a truly bananas cat. I'm sure he's getting bigger already, and we've only had him since Friday. He was completely unfazed by the vet - he was contentedly playing catch with my fingers through the bars of the box when his mother was being examined, and wanted desperately to explore when it was his turn. He did squeak very indignantly when she stuck a needle in him though, but who wouldn't?

I think Cleo will hate us again tomorrow when she has to go back to have her operation; hopefully it'll blow over soon enough. It's hard to reconstruct her history. She plainly understands and is comfortable around humans, because if you catch her in the right mood she'll play and sit on your lap and generally be very friendly. At the same time, you couldn't look after that cat as a pet and love her as she appears to have been loved without doing something about that great lump on her tummy that's been there since she was a kitten...can you? And surely people in this country and in this day and age don't just put a cared-for pet out to starve if they can't afford or don't want to be bothered with doing anything about it? I think when she finally calms down, she'll be a truly lovely animal, which makes it even harder to understand how anyone could do anything like that to her.

Anyway. I need to sleep. Meh.

Friday, 24 August 2007


I'm in Cornwall now, having driven down from Cambridge yesterday. The drive was actually fine, in that the traffic wasn't too bad and neither was the weather, but I was pretty dead by the time I got here. This cold is turning out to be a pretty nasty one, though I suspect that anyone other than me who hasn't been running around so much or sitting in any damp caves in wet clothes would probably not find it so icky. Davina and her boyfriend Neill (Davina's an English student who sings in choirs and does theatre...we have connections) stayed last night before heading down to Minack today to see the Philip Pullman plays, which was nice. Davina played the piano for a couple of songs for me for a bit, which was awesome - I don't get the chance to have them accompanied that often. We then moved over to the CD player and sang along to Handel's Messiah...I like THIS sort of karaoke...stuff just has to be at least 70 years old, and then I'm in with a fighting chance.

The dogs have been all over me since I got back, which is always lovely...I miss them SO much when I'm not here. Rocky especially won't leave me alone - he nearly slept on me yesterday. Quite hard sleeping when you have what feels like half a ton of very solid spaniel on your feet. Kiri's a bit more sedate most of the time, but even she's really affectionate when you just come home. She's trying to make us believe she's getting on for an old lady, which she entirely isn't, she's all of 8 and a border collie. YAY dogs.

Today's excitement, though, was new cats! We went to the Cats Protection shelter and had a look at what they had, but nothing really fitted exactly what we wanted. They did, though, have on their waiting list a mother and her kitten. The mother had been a pregnant stray, and the rest of the kittens had already gone to homes, but the general idea was that these two would go together. Our last pair of cats was a mother and her kitten, and they cordially hated each other, so we're not sure these two will really get on in a year or two, when mum decides baby should have found its own patch. We've got room enough that it's unlikely to be a problem though. We don't know the sex of the kitten, so haven't named him yet, but mum's called Cleo. The smart money's on the baby being a boy though, so I want to call him Tolly, short for Ptolemy (yes, I'm an English student. Ptolemy Philadelphus was Cleopatra's son. He wasn't the famous one (there are getting on for 20 of them), and he was never a Pharaoh, though.). Not sure for a girl. Looking it up, Cleopatra's daughter by Anthony was Cleopatra Selene, so maybe Selene would be the answer. That will depend on what the family think.

What photos there are, are here, but they're not great as yet. The kitten's a nutter, chasing around and hunting people's fingers and mum's tail and generally making use of the many excessively sharp points at his disposal. He's (I can't say 'it's'...) adorable though. Cleo has spent most of the afternoon that she's been sat on the windowsill in the study staring outside, desperate to go out, or growling at the dogs when they knock on the door. She's purred tentatively when someone's caught her at the right moment, but she's not really keen yet. Hopefully she will get used to the idea that we're OK when we feed her enough, but at present it's pretty clear that she's been a stray long enough to HATE being cooped up inside. Sadly it has to be, at the moment. She's absolutely beautiful, though - my pictures don't do her justice at all. I'll have a go with the SLR at some stage and see if I can do better. She's a real dark tortoiseshell, the complete opposite, really, of Tiggy, though Tiggy did have a kitten with very similar markings. Kitten's pretty too, with a little white bib and belly, white socks at the back and little white bits on his front paws. YAY CATS.

The other news is that the man who owns the llama farm came down this evening to look at our space and tell us what he thought before we get llamas. Apparently, he's thrilled with the space (I was asleep through this...evil coldy illness), but we need to sort the fencing. I think the general idea is that we'll eventually have four, but we'll start off with two probably in about six or eight months' time. Which means my mum is going to set the island up for ducks sometime in the next few months, probably after she's been to the wildfowl show in November, which means early spring. Menagerie is growing...woohoo!

I uploaded the very few pictures I took in Edinburgh, beyond the statue in the previous post. I was pretty pleased, actually. The evening light in Scotland is lovely because it's so far north, and this particular evening it was so clear you could see the hills on the other side of the Firth of Forth. The skyline lends itself to this kind of picture, too, just in the middle like that. A lot of Edinburgh is big, Georgian, and square, but leaning towards the gothic - so there are lots of turrets and towers like you see here. The stone is also a particularly attractive honey-coloured limestone, with black slate roofing. They whole effect is great!

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Short Fringe, and other stories.

Originally uploaded by hazelsheard
Edinburgh was fun. Fish and I drove up on Friday night, eventually, after I persuaded him to stop working for any length of time. Even then, he drove and did a conference call at the same time, despite the fact that he had me next to him insured and ready to drive his car for him so that he COULD work. I'm insured on his car for a whole year, because it cost a pound more to do that than to ensure me for a few days. This will mean that during Minack in Cornwall next month, I will have the choice of five cars to drive. Comedy.

We got there about 12:30 on Friday night/Saturday morning, and kicked off early the next day. Stuff bullet pointed is show reviews, the rest is 'stuff I did'...

  • Carl, Christian (also known as Fish, for those that don't know), Nikki (randomer loosely associated with Carl/EUSOG), and I went to see Little Red Things: The Boy Who Wouldn't Listen, by Gomito at Bedlam to begin with. Carl and I always see the Gomito show when up, and this was its last day. They're a great company, with fantastic physical work and magical storytelling. The whole experience is usually one of delight in what they're doing in front of you, and it's regularly my highlight of the festival. This year was not disappointing from that point of view, but I felt that they hadn't been as imaginative as they have been in the past. The show was a sequel to last year's sell out Little Red Things, and that allowed them to do more of the same, rather than thinking further and showing us new things. It was still good, but I was slightly disappointed by that.
  • We followed up Little Red Things with The Quest for the Divine Bottle, a piece put together in association with Gomito (there's a link to the Divine Bottle page from the Gomito link above) and based on the work of Rabelais. He was a particularly dirty French medieval monk, and this gave the group plenty to work with. I actually preferred this show to LRT in many ways, because it had the freshness and strangeness that I look for in a piece of theatre, continually making you see everyday things in a different way. The plot did certainly, as Fish puts it, lack cohesion. It felt very dreamlike though, jumping about from line to line and being difficult to follow, and I felt that that was no bad thing. Less polished, perhaps, than the previous, but still thoroughly entertaining.
  • I wandered over to PGP to catch up after that, and saw Melancholia by the Latino Theater Company. The stagecraft was excellent, and I was thoroughly engaged by that aspect of their work. However, the bare anti-war agenda of the play was a little annoying after a while - it was aimed explicitly at the Iraq war, which might be fair enough, but just saying 'war is bad' is not really profound enough these days, especially at the Fringe. It lost marks for being slightly trite, and n0t recognising, for example, that Iraq is different from any other theatre of conflict.
  • Sweeney Todd was next up. This was a Cambridge show I'd been planning on seeing for ages anyway - it's by Fitz Theatre (and Sondheim), who seem to have a holding site instead of a website...job for you, Hugh? It was good, don't misunderstand the following - I think I judge musicals more harshly than other things. The music has to be spectacular, as does the singing and the acting in order for me to really enjoy it. These guys did great, and I could see why so many people were saying it was fantastic, but it didn't completely bowl me over. Reasons for this included the lack of full orchestration that meant that some of the texture was lost, dodgy high notes partly due to the fact that it was last night, and a Joanna who needs 6 months of lessons after which time she'll have a voice blended across the registers. She was good, but missed out on being REALLY good.
  • Rounding off the day was Jesus: The Guantanamo Years by (Elaine's ex) Abie at the Underbelly. I was knackered by this time, and Fish and I were both pretty drenched, so I was not in the most receptive of moods when we went to sit down in the steamy damp cave that passes for a theatrical venue to the Underbelly (I LOVE the Underbelly). However, the writing in this was fantastic. The general premise is that Jesus returns to the stand up scene after 2000 years and tries to get past US security, as well as moaning about the Monty Python spin off. He's a bearded Middle Eastern guy prepared to die as a martyr, and is convinced that his mission is a holy one. Ends up in Guantanamo, strangely. Very well observed and very well put together - what you'd expect from someone who makes his living mostly as a journalist. Prevented only from being my pick of the Fringe by the fact that Abie is not a performer, I don't think. What was needed was for the audience to believe in the character they were watching, rather than just laughing at and being enlightened by what he was saying. It was a shame, that. All the same, thoroughly entertaining, and I was in a much less horrid mood when it was finished than I was when it started.

This concluded Saturday, and we'd made good inroads into the weekend's shows. I only saw two shows on Sunday, preferring to laze, chat, get fed by relatives and get drunk with the PGP/EUSOG crowds.
  • The first one I did see was The Gently Progressive Behemoth, again at least loosely Cambridge show, put on by Luke Rogers and Nadia Kamil. They did Staggered Spaces in Greyfriars last year and it was great - silly, poignant, honest comedy. This time, it was mostly silly. Quite fun silly, but definitely not as good as before. We did share the audience with Jimmy Carr though, and as he left he said that it was 'kinda fun' and he had 'had a giggle', so their careers are continuing upwards - they have quotes from Daniel Kitson in response to Staggered Spaces...perhaps I should try and pass that on to them?
  • Then it was time for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the floor of whose flat I was sleeping on. I was actually very impressed by this, having gone not really expecting great things from a kids' show with what was considered a bad script. The performances were universally great though, and I really don't think they could have done more with it.
This was my last show for the Sunday, and I had dinner with Uncle Nick, Auntie Alison, Theo and Evelyn afterwards, and tried to introduce them to the Fringe a bit. I then met Fish for a drink before we left for the PGP end of week party at the Bedlam in the company of the EUSOG rabble. Very entertaining. Too many photos on Facebook.

I met Jacqui (Company of Ten old friend) for breakfast at the Elephant House, 'Birthplace of Harry Potter' as it is now, on Monday, and then went to see:
  • Smile and Say Thanks at Bedlam with her. This was a typical Bedlam show; new, sweet, and with a few corners not yet cut off. It was loosely about random acts of kindness, I suppose, each characters telling different stories that eventually came together in interesting ways. Very entertaining and enjoyable for first thing in the morning, though there were definitely bits that could have been cut. They had badges. Always a good deal.

I was going to see the Harry Porter Prizewinner (more Cambridge) play Coat that lunchtime, but was too keen on eating and not rushing around too much that I didn't.

  • I saw Can of Worms instead, which was a play about torture, but very funny and very entertaining performances. I met up with Rachel there, by accident. She's writing a play on contemporary theatre, and I like contemporary theatre a lot, so we tend to run into each other. She felt that, like Melancholia, its message was a bit lacking in depth, which spoiled an otherwise thoroughly excellent piece of theatre. That a piece doesn't have a particularly profound moral does not prevent it being good art unless it has set out to do so - then it fails on its own terms.
  • Next was Mouse; a piece along a similar lines, I guess. It was a monologue, set in a garage where a second, silent character is committing suicide with a car due to the manipulations of the speaker. As an example of its type, it was great. The performance was strong and the story quite interesting. It just wasn't really new - we've all done monologues, and they always go the same way, with the audience discovering more about the character than the character realises. Robert Browning did that to death 150 years ago. Still good, but not new.
Next came dinner with Fish and Mr Linford at the awesome Wannaburger. I love that place...have a look at the menu!

  • My final show of the Fringe this year was Eurobeat. It had a pretty good reputation by the time Fish and I saw it. It's in the Pleasance Grand, one of the biggest venues on the Fringe, and as such it doesn't really feel like fringe theatre. It was supposed to be a spoof of Eurovision, taking the mickey out of that institution. The thing was, Eurovision is universally acknowledged as a really silly event in any case. They didn't take their mick-taking far enough, I think. There were a few more dirty jokes and entertaining mistranslations, but frankly there are actually quite a lot of those in the contest itself. It missed an opportunity to be absolutely hilarious, and instead didn't do much more than just put the Eurovision on stage.

And that was my Fringe, really. Slightly odd to have family up there, but that HAS happened before, even if not since about 2002 when I last did a show. It was nice to get to know Fish as well, as a person and not someone on the other side of a computer screen. I can nearly think of him as a real person and not the goldfish he has as a userpic on MSN now... I was very glad he was there actually, or I'd have spent a lot more time on my own. I don't think I really assisted him in his attempt to work while he was there, but I think I did manage to drag him to some theatre he wouldn't otherwise have seen. I get the impression he's mildly impressed with my dragging him to see Little Red Things straight off, because he keeps hearing people talking about it and saying how good it is, which is quite gratifying. I'm becoming a Fringe veteran though - this was my 6th since 2001. I may well have spent more time in Edinburgh than I have in Cornwall. Weird. Not working was PGP was a bit strange this year, but I did hang around and stuff, which was sort of nice. I even turned up to the brand new kitchen in the bowels of Augustine's and made them lemon cake yesterday morning, just to get the full Fringe experience. And to make myself feel I'd earned the free ticket to Melancholia Jeff gave me half by accident because he thought I was working. Train back was dull, though I was glad I managed to persuade Carl to get my train back. In Cambridge for a couple of nights before the next theatrical adventure starts in Cornwall tomorrow. New cats on Friday! Woohoo! Need to see what can be done about llamas, too...

Friday, 17 August 2007

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Brideshead Revisited.

'...and her eyes were full of consternation and resentment, like those of a woman who, at the end of her time, at length realizes that however luxurious the nursing home, and however well paid the doctor, her labour is inevitable...'

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Meant to say...

I meant to post this to complete the partnership of Graham's silly songs. Again, not work/easily shockable people safe.

An English summer.

Another oldie, but it's damp and I'm in Cambridge, so I figured I'd use it. Yes, Graham, I have photo blog envy. Must use camera more.

I only wanted to post to say that I'm useless and keep leaving stuff everywhere. When I came up to see Andy last week, I left half the stuff I'd promised to bring up for him at home. When I left Cambridge for London to see Graham[1], I managed to leave all my overnight stuff at Andy's, necessitating me scrounging a set of pyjamas and washing the clothes I was wearing. Men's pyjamas have a willy hole. Not a good thing, on a girl. Thankfully the jacket was long for me, so my decency was preserved. When I left Graham's to go back to St Albans I left my toothbrush there. Grr. I ended up at Hugh's last night, without said toothbrush, but then he does have the convenient pay-as-you-go super-cupboard[2] 100 yards from his back door, so at least I could rectify that fairly easily in the morning. Am going to try not to leave things here when I go, but track record this week is CRAP.

For anyone who wants to know, I'm intending to go back to St Albans this afternoon and then be in Cam from lunchtime on Thursday until Friday end-of-work time, when I'll be in a car on my way to Edinburgh until Tuesday. All make sense?! Anyone want to entertain me during the day on Friday? Otherwise quite capable of sitting in a cafe with a book.

[1]Different Graham from the first Graham. First Graham is further away.

Sunday, 12 August 2007


forest gate
Originally uploaded by hazelsheard
Must be just over a year since I took this picture, somewhere in the Brecons I seem to recall, on my way to Andy's house on the Llyn Peninsula in north west Wales. It was pretty and summery and I thought it fitted with a few days lazing in the sun in Cambridge.

I headed up on Wednesday, eventually. I discovered that my brother had put an enormous hole in the left hand front tyre (is that 'off-side'? I never know) by hitting the curb at break-neck speed the night before. This meant I spent about 40 minutes sitting on the drive changing the wheel, with the help of the resident black cat, who gave the car a thorough going over inside and out before sitting down to watch and pester. She's a lovely creature - she wouldn't get out of the car, though, when I wanted finally to leave. I had to push her unceremoniously out of the car and then chase her off so that I didn't run her over. Needless to say, the brother is not currently in favour. My dad's going to pay for the replacement, thankfully, which I'm getting done in Cambridge since it's frankly just as convenient to do it there as here, and easier to find a garage up there because I have a better network of people to ask. I've been telling everyone I've seen over the last few days that I changed a wheel all by myself though. Moderately proud of that feat. Shhh. I KNOW it's not really that difficult. Let me feel pleased with myself anyway.

Cambridge was great - the weather was beautiful, and I did all the catching up I wanted to as well as spending a considerable amount of time curled up on the lawn of 4 Adams reading. Hugh and Rob and Kate and Carl and Andy and I went to see the Simpsons movie on Wednesday. It was hilarious - definitely more a long episode than a film, but what else could they have done? We saw an early showing and then went back to Hugh'n'Rob's to make fire - all in all a lovely evening.

I met Fish for lunch on Thursday, and we ironed out all the Edinburgh arrangements. I also swapped my too powerful fish bubble making machine for his one, which is at least adjustable and only has one nozzle. I was thinking, if I get another tank and put it near enough THIS tank, I can probably aerate the two of them from the one pump. Would be a bit chaotic in this house though. Gah.

Went BACK to Newmarket Road on Thursday night to watch The Bourne Identity and cook a veggie tartiflette. That turned out a little more like mashed potato with bits in than anything with any texture, but I can rectify that next time. I think the answer will be to make it more like a gratin than a frittata thing. All the same, it was nice. Andy was very excited because he'd bought a whole keg of Heineken. *rolls eyes*. Methinks he likes me having my car around... Definitely fair enough though - he's done all the driving for AGES. Rob and Kate ventured in from pool later on, and then, completely randomly, Salvador turned up. He was really quite drunk and pretty miserable, due to man trouble in Edinburgh. More or less the first thing he did was ask Hugh to play him Jeff Buckley's 'Hallelujah', which he sang (loudly for the space, but certainly nicely). I wanted to show him Graham's version (not work/ordinary public safe), but Hugh didn't have a copy. Everybody should have a copy of that. It's awesome. Salvador didn't seem to be in a good enough mood to be permitted listening to the Jeff Buckley version on repeat though - I sent him the other version with the express instruction that he was to learn the words to THAT before he learns the original words.

I met Davina for lunch on Friday, which was lovely. Haven't seen her since my exams ended and it was good to catch up. Have offered her and Neil a bed in Cornwall on their way to Minack - my house is going to have certain hotel-like qualities over that week, but it might as well have a use.

Salvador mentioned on Thursday that he's still missing two female and one male chorus. I'm debating auditioning...I know I have another role, but I suspect that it's not really critical and could be managed if required. Things have been like that since I took that position deliberately because I might have to pull out. It would be sort of nice to do some singing and stuff, but I'm trying to work out if I want to. I'm still feeling a bit fragile, and if it went badly I suspect I would be in a bad way. Meh. I don't know how long I've got to think about it. The other thing is, there's a very very very slim chance that the SM may decide not to go due to personal dramas, in which case, I suspect I'm the logical second choice for that. It's unlikely that she won't go, but there's still that possibility. Have to decide what I fancy...

I spent yesterday in London with Graham and Jenny and Melissa and Kate. The latter two have more or less found a house, so were very excited about that. Melissa went off to New York today for her Merrill Lynch induction thingy, and she's away for 5 weeks before starting the uberjob she's got herself, so it was nice to see her before she sinks into high-powered exhaustion. Kate's around, but I'm in Edinburgh/Cornwall so probably won't catch her before they move in and her law course starts. Sitting around the table at the curry house yesterday, I was feeling very jobless and vaguely hippy scrounger. Meh. Still don't want a job though, even a job that I'm going to like. I need to do something soonish about that, but I still don't really feel any urgency to do so.

Nearly every blog post I've written in ages ends with a job worry. Maybe it's bothering me more than I thought?

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

French pics.

framboises jaunes
Originally uploaded by hazelsheard
I've just posted the pictures I took in the French Alps - see here. I wanted to share this one with you...have you ever seen YELLOW raspberries?! They tasted, actually, just the same as pink ones, but they're an awesome colour. Weird.

Particular French favourites include this one, which is a supershroom. Have decided mushrooms make awesome photo subjects, along with snails. I even passed that particular fetish on to my dad, who spent a quantity of time photographing a French snail which had considerable size on my humble Cambridge specimen. Other highlights were a waterfall picture I'm really quite pleased with, and this one of the cloud flowing down the hill over a town called Avoriaz (which you can't see, it's under the cloud at the top of a sheer cliff...).

St Albans.

So. Over the last few days, I have mostly been unpacking. It's been a long term operation. After all, I had to build a bookcase in order to unpack in the first place. In fact, I didn't really build the bookcase, I persuaded the brother to do it. He seemed to enjoy it. I got to watch Heston Blumenthal making Black Forest gateau instead, except during the difficult bits. It's sort of nice to have all my books on a bookcase properly again - it's been a while. I'll bring the rest of them up from Cornwall at some stage; I'd like them to be all together. Besides, the ones that are still at Lanner Mill are mostly the crappy easy-to-read things (not Discworld; that has traveled with me) that I actually WANT now. I actually bought books yesterday, as well, which was bad of me, since I've got loads of stuff to read at present, but I went deliberately for stuff I thought would be good fun to read. As it turned out, I bought Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh) and I, Claudius (Robert Graves), which are proper classics and don't really count as trashy novels, and a historical crime book called Sovereign (C. J. Sansom), which is not and does. Ah well. The first of the three I know as a fantastic television series (Granada, 1981, starring Jeremy Irons, but with cameos from the likes of John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier) , so should be ok. The second is a great TV series too (BBC, 1976, starring Derek Jacobi), but I've not seen it. Maybe I should - Jacobi's great. Will see, anyway.

Had lunch with Katy yesterday. Nice to see her. I've hardly seen her at all over the last few years when we've both been away at uni, so it was good to catch up. Her parents split up in April, so she's been coping with that. She's changed - and I don't think it's to do with her parents. She's much more outgoing than she ever was before, or so she seemed, but then I think I'm probably far more reserved than I was. Hard to tell. That doesn't really interfere with how well we get on; it was just a change. Still feel unsettled about being back here and seeing all these people again - it's all such hard work. The flat feels strange. I know I'm not living with my parents or anything, but it almost feels like I am. I couldn't say why though. I suppose it'll be better when I've found something to do with myself. Must buy a copy of The Stage tomorrow.

I had to buy a new air pump for the fish tank yesterday, because the one I was using died completely. I inadvertently bought a huge one, designed for a vastly bigger tank than mine. Until I figured how to limit the flow, Boris and Azrael were a little non-plussed at the jacuzzi that appeared to a come into being in a corner of their tank. I was debating taking it back, but it's only a matter of time before I DO get a bigger tank - albeit still one where I don't need so enormous a pump - so I've decided to keep it for the time being. I was admiring the fish they had though. I think I'll buy a thing called a 'butterfly ghost koi' when I get the bigger tank. I can't find a picture at the moment, but they're mostly black with gold sheen and scale tips, with beautiful long feathery fins. That is, if I can get a guarantee they won't grow too big - the smallest ones I saw were about 3 inches, but they're koi, and can end up a good foot long. I was admiring the big koi as well - the largest they have there (Hertfordshire Fisheries) are about 18 inches long and sell for about £500. I was talking to the guy, who said they'd sold one in two years. It's such a shame - they're beautiful fish and they're trapped in a completely bare tank not big enough for them. It would be great if they could have a proper pond, but these days they're an insurance risk, beside the fact that you need a pretty much a country house to keep them in. Bah.

Off to Cam today, hopefully til Saturday morning, when I head to London to see Graham. Really looking forward to having a few days up there, even if I'm going to be camping on a series of floors.

Monday, 6 August 2007

After all that, I spent an hour and a half on the phone to Andy yesterday. Feel better now. :-). More tidying today, and I suppose I really should go and buy a bookcase.

Sunday, 5 August 2007


I was going to say 'I'm home', but I'm not. Am in family flat in St Albans. Great. I'm homeless again. Noticing how much difference having the flat last year made to me. Or I think I am, though I suspect I'm just tired with the effort I've put in today trying to make this place habitable - furniture moving and unpacking is not fun with the something I've damaged in my left arm, quite apart from being in itself just plain dull. My brother's being his vilest, which hardly helps. Am slightly miserable because I can't get hold of Andy at the moment, too. I have the usual nebulous paranoia that something's wrong in some way, despite the fact that he's probably just left his phone in the car or somewhere or is busy or something, and that I know full well he has no net in his college room. I don't think I'm usually this pathetic about that kind of thing, but actually knowing the fact that we're not living together anymore, after nearly a year, makes just the week I've been away feel all the worse. I hate moving house, and I really don't see the point in making the effort to move on with anything.

Also, I know full well I'm being pathetic. Sorry. Will get over it sometime.

EDIT: Just spoke to him. Feel a bit better, but he isn't in a stunning mood either. Meh.

Don't like this post. It sounds really selfish. Hope you can read it the way I meant it, which, I think, was a little less whiny.

Thursday, 2 August 2007


It's wet - torrential thunderstorms and so on, such that the lights keep flickering - so I'm taking the opportunity to write this instead, while trying to get the CD player beside me to play more or less anything that isn't Dido or Jacko. I was aiming for a Kings CD I saw they had the other day, but that turned out to be entirely Christmassy, so I dug out one of those 'Classic' compilation things. Well. Don't try and get the train all the way from St Albans to somewhere approaching Geneva on the same day. It's an error. It does bring home to you the fact that the French Alps are A Very Long Way, but having driven over them a fair few times for holidays of one sort or another, I don't need that bringing home to me. The scenery is great, and the chalet/hotel place we're staying is gorgeous. Slightly random selection of other guests, but that's the way of these things. It's an adventure type place - the area is lousy with VTT (velo touts-terrains (probably got agreements wrong...sorry), or mountain biking, to you and me) centres and places to jump off mountains with curtain over your head. I've done a fair amount of walking with the parents, such that now my knees are well and truly ouch, and have also been canyoning and rafting. I wasn't sure the canyoning would have been really up my street, and it nearly wasn't - I'm not good at heights, and it basically involves sliding, climbing, abseiling and jumping down a very cold waterfall at the bottom of a gorge. I love the water and the messing about in streams bit, but am really not very keen on the jumping bit unless I know exactly where I'm going and it's not too far down. Least I didn't have to much in the way of bridges or much hanging on the end of a rope that I wasn't in control of. I only froze properly once, and ended up grabbing a rope I really shouldn't have grabbed because I now have beautiful rope burn all across my left hand. Bah.

The food's good, too - the chef in the chalet is awesome, but the area has things like a cheese that melts so perfectly you just need it on its own to make a cheese sauce. They use it to make a thing called Tartiflette, which is fried potatoes, onions and bacon, made into a gratin with the cheese, called reblochon. I reckon it could be adapted pretty easily with red pepper pieces instead of the bacon. A slightly more authentic replacement would be capers, but I don't recall really liking them, so pepper will do.

Despite the fact that it's raining now, the weather's been great. We were walking yesterday, and it was clear enough to see Mont Blanc, which is pretty rare from here. We're more or less on the Swiss border, at a place called Morzine, just south of Geneva. The clarity had its downside though, in that it was HOT yesterday, and I had a killer headache when I came home. Bah. I have a bit of a tan though, which is always something. It's pretty uneven, but a few weeks in Cornwall should sort it out I suppose. Meh.

I suppose I ought to start job hunting when I get back, but it's not really going to be practical. I'll have two weeks, then perhaps some time in Edinburgh, though that's now looking pretty unlikely, then a month in Cornwall. It's hardly a suitable set of locations for possible job interviews in London, really, though I can at a pinch drop things in either of those locations and go home to be interviewed on any day apart from the actual run at the Minack. I'm not all that sure how long it'll take for things like that to process - from application to interview to starting a job, so I don't quite know when the best time to start doing this is, if I want to start work at about the beginning of September. I still haven't got the energy for it...spending chunks of every day in a complete funk about everything at all, where the best option is just to hide under the duvet and hope it's not there when I wake up. It's not that I'm scared of doing a job, or even getting one, just that I really don't see the point in anything. Meh.