abendgules: (Confesse)
I regularly notice things either en route to work, or in my day, that are terribly witty and worth sharing.

But I don't seem to get the time to put them in writing.

Real-world recap:

I really enjoyed hearing the Canadian election outcome, though felt sorry for NDP which now has a few years of rebuilding to do.

It's been a pretty good fall in London for weather and fall colours; reasonably dry for most of September and October, which meant I've done more running than before.

I've been diligently getting out at lunch hours, and alternating w/ lunch hours in the gym, doing both physio-recommended stretches and some strength moves.

As a partial result of running, I now have my R foot strapped up, to manage plantar fasciitis. Have to freeze a bottle of water to roll under my foot this evening. Oooops.

Apparently ignoring the dull ache in your foot til it becomes a sharp pain in your foot is not the appropriate response.

Still going to physio regularly to try to manage lower back pain. I can feel that I've gained more mobility in my lower back and pelvis, and I walk more carefully and consciously than before.

Weekends where I'm wearing flat medieval shoes on hard surfaces really show themselves up at the physio.

I'm already on 2 weeks sabbatical from running, to see if I can shake the referred pain down 1 leg. So this week I'm walking not running at lunch. Fortunately the break coincides with weekends away when I couldn't get to a parkrun anyway.

It's halfterm in London so the constant commuting pressure eases off by about 20% as all the parents take time out while their kids get a week off. I treasure this week for travel, but you're always covering for someone in the office who's away this week.

Next week I hope to take 1 day off, to see the current Celts exhibit at the British Museum.
abendgules: (womaninmotion)
Continuing to chug along at parkruns. New PB, though my legs ached ferociously on Sunday.

I may change my 'home' base to the run I've done the most, as it's a much nicer park to run around than the first one I attended.

North London is hilly; there's nowhere in a park that's going to offer 5k flat running. I might as well choose the one that's most attractive.

Yesterday and today a heron visited the pond in my workplace's courtyard.

You have to look closely, for the one on the left; the one on the right is a plastic decoy...but to attract or deter more herons isn't clear.

And yes, we have a cheesy gnome with a fishing line. So sue us.

A guest in the courtyard

On my lunchtime run I saw a heron in the stream in the park, and since it's just a short flap for a heron from courtyard to stream I'm guessing it's the same one.

Is is avian-ist to say that all herons look alike to me?

In the 'Drachenwald first-world problems' category:

I'm finally making myself new veils, to replace the ones I felt terribly under-dressed in at Double Wars. I've wanted both new flat veils and ruffled ones for ages, plus a Birgitta cap (minus the fiddly-but-functional midline needlework).

My barrier to improving my veils wasn't materials, it was instructions.

Only in Drachenwald can all the instructions on making ruffled veils I can find be in languages I don't speak...til I asked Mistress Lia for her top source, and she pointed me at this lady's excellent photos (sorry they're in FB).

So I have new flat veils for the weekend, plus several miles of ruffle for sewing in the vehicle...plus knitting.
abendgules: (maciejowski)
Getting anywhere on a bank holiday weekend is a nightmare. How did I manage to forget? blocked out more like.

It took 3 hrs to reach House Pologrinus on the south side - more than 2x the usual journey time. I was very very close to turning round to go home from Farringdon stn (2 hrs into the trip) when the train arrived. I hate travel on long weekends.

However, upon arrival matters improved: I was visiting to take part in this year's apple pressing towards cider-making. After guzzling Vitus' cider last year I told him to sign me up for pressing next year.

Sure enough: 250kg of apples, just from friends' backyard trees. At least 3 different varieties, plus a selection of pears too.

Apple pressing is a lot of fun. Doing nearly 6 hrs straight of apple prep is less so.

Child labour: this didn't last, but was a help while it was there. Washing apples before quartering and checking for worms.

Ozbeg grinding apples (2x through) as Vitus adjusts the press.

Very, very glad of 2 burly men to crank the grinder and the press - possibly harder than it's typically worked, to squeeze every drop out.

Kat, Isabel, Ozbeg and I were fully occupied washing, quartering and (sometimes) grinding apples, loading crushed apple into the press, and unloading post-crush mush to the composters. The composter full, we just piled it in the yard. We got a lot of wasp attention, but it was benign compared to the wasps at Raglan this year.

The juice we got was a nice middle sweet flavour, not sugary sweet like my memory of fresh pressed sweet cider from Ontario. V judged it'll give a 6% cider, and we pressed out 100L of juice into 4 containers. He set it to ferment with champagne yeast, warmed and 'started' for a few hours first.

V doesn't do anything by halves...

He fed us with homemade scones w butter and jam, and then homemade pizza made on the BBQ (lacking a pizza oven).

This was also the weekend to say goodbye to HG Daille and the kids, while Sir Jonothan stays another few weeks til after Michaelmas.

Vitus & Isabel are planning on Estrella war next year and it sounds like a household push is on.

After the morning's mess of commuting I was very grateful of a list back to the city with Kat and Ozbeg.
abendgules: (knitting)
It's just as well I work in the sticks. I'd never survive the temptation of regular exposure to good shops.

I had 1 day to attend meetings in S. London near Waterloo. Waterloo stn, as every London knitter knows, is dangerously close to I knit London.

And so it came to pass that I entered the shop in search of a single needle, tripped, and fell into their bargain bin, dislodging my wallet in the process.

Tripped & fell into I Knit London

The thick yarn is blue faced leicester roving, 100g. The pink and purple is silk 4ply (actually counted 7plies, but never mind), 100g each. The Addi needles, nuff said.

The DPNs are the smallest I now own, 2mm and 1.5, for trying fine stockings.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] zmiya_san's loan of a yarn winder and a ball winder, I've been skeining and winding a lot of yarn lately.

Here's A jersey project in process my 4kg of yarn now skeined, washed and wound, towards a major jumper project.

Thanks to my recent guest Gwendolyn, I now know how to wind silk successfully - on a toilet roll. Here's a couple I prepared earlier.

Lady Gwen is the EK visitor at DW last year, who did silk weaving, starting with growing the silkworms from scratch. When I first heard about her through Lia's posts and pictures I thought 'that's right off the scale' for craftiness. But Gwendolyn isn't mad...just really, really thorough. :-)

Today is hot for London, around 29 dec C apparently. Glorious, excellent for drying still more skeined and washed yarn.
abendgules: (self-portrait)
I think there's been a Hindu festival recently as there are more folks with tikkas on the high street than I usually see of a weekend, and more ladies in really pretty salwar kamises: bright, sparkly, sequined. Maybe they're just celebrating the start of summer, don't know.

Asian ladies really have the best selection of beautiful fabrics and colours. The one time I went to India it was striking how boldly and beautifully coloured the womens' clothing was even just in the office. Even smartly dressed English people wear a lot of black in comparison.

It's odd that with all the beautiful design and designer options available to Asian ladies, there's still no garment to wear over a sari or salwar kamis to keep warm, that goes with the outfit.

Three quarters of the year, ladies in saris and salwar kamis wear these beautiful gowns and shirts and leggings, and then put a polyster cardigan on top... then a winter jacket.

To my mind there should be a sweeping 3/4 length shawl-coat, or kaftan, or beautiful flowing something-or-other for warmth, that continues the lines of traditional Asian clothing.

So far, I've not seen it in our neighbourhood.
abendgules: (rearview_runner)
Robert is away slaying orcs. I have 3 days to sprawl on the sofa, read books, be cat furniture, and call taco chips and instant noodles dinner.

I could clean the flat and put away all my fencing kit from Double Wars.

Or not.

More likely to try to get round the park again, even if it's not at running pace. The bigger part of the park is actually furthest from us.
abendgules: (herald_cat)
Thamesreach's most recent revel was last weekend, the first to follow WorldCon where SCA had a display table.

[livejournal.com profile] exmoor_cat followed up the contacts made at WorldCon, and as a result, we had 6 (SIX!!) newcomers to the SCA at the revel, plus one new arrival from An Tir.

I don't think I've ever seen 6 new people at one event. I'm impressed all to heck and really hope they come back.

Dame Oriane and Lady Emoni and I had planned a heraldry and banner-making revel. As it turned out just one person had a personal banner to work on, so we charged ahead on the shire bunting instead. Earl Paul and Lady Anne brought their mate Mark along and formed a jolly group to support the day.

Newcomers willingly worked on painting and sewing and pressing new armory and the familiar Thamesreach device to add to the collection.

I'd rustled several tunics from TE Vitus and Isabel, so we had clothes all round and everyone sat for our potluck dinner.

Milord Marx's lady Victoria brought not one but two Persian dishes, in part I think to ensure she would have veg-friendly food to eat, and Robert's frumenty was also veg-friendly this time round.

Having Paul, Anne and Mark there meant the dancing was more focused than me just yelling at folks and we danced about 2x as long as usual, because the newest folks were very keen and very happy to take part.

The hardest part was getting folks to pipe down so we could explain the steps. :-)

A real joy was the setup and cleanup; with several new people looking to be helpful, both these stages flew by in a flurry and we had probably the swiftest and most efficient setup and cleanup I can remember in ages. Hurrah!

Today (Wednesday) I throw myself on the grenade of teaching rapier 'properly', like following a teaching plan and doing it systematically. I have 3 interested participants to date. The goal is to reach authorisation stage in time for Yule Ball.

I'm shamelessly using someone else's handout (on Marco Borromei's website) as a guide as to what to cover, and what order to do these things in. I'm hoping we generate just as many authorisations as there are fencers.

Periodically I get a dose of nostalgia for my first homeland. And at this point, I remember that I was not interested in local revels in Caldrithig, that I had no time to attend and support new people because I was busy going to events out of the area.

[livejournal.com profile] buttongirl was all over this, and I just wasn't in tune at the time; why go to a local revel when you want to attend a major event?

I also remember that I had no time for fencing. Now I'm the local marshal, and about to teach others.

Feels like I've turned around completely; it's all about local revels, and all about building a group; it's about historical rapier combat which puts me on the field again (vs armoured combat that was always an uphill struggle for me).

Part of the change is because travelling 2/4 weekends a month isn't an option anymore, not in Drachenwald.

Part of it is because I want to build the SCA I enjoy, and the stuff I enjoy is going to events, and Making Stuff (TM), and having tournaments (whether armoured or rapier).
abendgules: (editor)
Haven't had the bandwidth or motivation to keep LJ up to date - flat out at work still, Raglan looming.

Feels like:

Can't talk during the day, busy workin'.

Can't talk during the weekend, busy scribin' or sortin' stuff.

Can't talk evenings, busy stitchin' or scribin' or recovering from work.

Some good stuff:

Thamesreach's 15th anniversary was last weekend which we marked with a rapier revel and our usual potluck feast. We told stories of our first encounter with Thamesreach, and sat 24 people to dinner. Very satisfying.

I'd put together a passport for Katheryne Gordon and her family to Ealdormere, as they are moving to Brennistein Vatn, for his highness to present on behalf of TRM, which was well received. Hopefully the family's PCS scrolls will reach them in Ealdormere.

The scribes have come through once more with fabulous willingness to do scrolls for Raglan. I spent a very pleasant evening looking through the scroll blank collection, largely thanks to [livejournal.com profile] badgersandjam who assembled it, and am very grateful for it, as it makes some of the magic possible.

I've written one article recently about using the order of precedence, and have another under review about basically where awards come from ('when a mother and father award love each other very much...'). I'm intending it for the next Baelfyr.

The occasion for it is growth in Insulae Draconis, and new people not as familiar with the conventions of our region as others, so I'm trying to fill the gap in a constructive way.

In late June we visited with Vitus as family at a backyard BBQ: these are less common in England than elsewhere, as a) shortage of backyards and b) intrinsic belief by the English that any attempt to BBQ is doomed to failure.

Happily Vitus is German and is untroubled by such insecurities. :-)

He now has 2 divots on the right side of his skull where he had surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain following his slip.

He says there's an option to put plates in to cover but they're 'cosmetic' and don't really help add more protection...but he might get them just to trigger the body scanners at the airports. :-)

Isabel his lady looks beautiful - not everyone does at 8 months pregnant but she's managing it.

Weekend before last we spent some time hanging out with Nasr and Haroun, and eating pizza, which apparently made Haroun's day.

A couple of weeks ago I got to spend an evening with Sir Wiglaf, one of my favourite people in Drachenwald. He's based in Austria and doesn't visit much, so any time to spend with him is precious. This was on Ye Holy Gaming Night so Robert was otherwise engaged! so it was just the two of us, at least to start.

I had a beer with him then we went to dinner with Nasr and Bridget a friend of N&E's from Calontir, going for Mexican food.

I can count the number of times I've had mexican food in Europe on one hand and still make rude gestures - I even miss Taco Bell for pete's sake. It was a treat of an evening.

I've sent Wiglaf some suggestions for his 'peer doc' which is posted on greydragon.org. Since it's dated 2000 it's practically web-medieval itself, but it's still totally worth reading.

Reading it gives you a sense of what a conversation with Wiglaf is like, which is to say, somewhat surreal. :-)
abendgules: (Mountjoy)
...w/ one of Robert's brothers and his family. They're passing through en route to the continent for several weeks' tour.

It was a splendid dinner at a fine restaurant (duck with fennel and green sauce for me); the kids found it a bit 'weird', though dessert went down easily. Hard to argue with chocolate terrine and Eton mess.

The family's strongest observations were about the multicultural mix in London and European migration. Of course they're visiting in touristy London, which is, well, full of foreigners. :-)

And they think the Tube is brilliant. Christchurch NZ doesn't have much public transportation.

I was surprised to hear that Christchurch still has a lot of buildings not yet rebuilt - not even yet knocked down - after the earthquakes a few years ago. The cathedral I can understand would take time, but I'd have thought agreeing on rebuilding the centre of town would be straightforward.

Sadly the handsome limestone 19th c university buildings, the ones that reminded me strongly of Queen's and Kingston, built in the same era, are all gone, lost to the earthquake and subsidence.
abendgules: (abbey_cats)
abendgules: (home sweet canvas home)
...means never worrying about finding fresh produce.

Our modest high street doesn't have many chain stores, and they're concentrated at the other end of the street from us. But it's very well stocked with local shops, run by mom & pop & older brother & brother-in-law & cousins and everyone else who has moved from the home country.

On the very end is the 'Gulf bazaar' offering an Arabic-speaking barber, abayas for 60% off (any colour so long as it's black), and a fresh juice bar that also serves fresh cane juice: they crush a length of sugar cane straigth into a glass while you wait.

Our closest food shop is an Arab grocer, with fresh bread, a halal butcher, every spice you could want, 8 different kinds of olives in bulk, loads of fruit jams, syrups and sweets, and a goodly variety of fruit and veg.

The Iranian kebab shop serves the most delightful lamacun (lamazhin), and fresh bread from their huge flatbread ovens. The guys running the shop seem to know most of their customers as friends, with a warmth and cheer that is suprising in London.

The next shop is a 24 hour grocery run by Eastern Europeans - some mix of Poles, Ukranians, Romanians and Hungarians. These aren't the newly-arrived Romanians from 1 January: these folks have been here long enough to establish grocery supply chains and a market to feed.

There's a bakery upstairs, a fresh meat counter, every variety of preserved meat that a pork-loving culture could enjoy, followed closely by the cattle-loving culture for the yoghurt and fresh cheese supplies.

In fact, the yoghurt and cream cheese are hard to tell apart; the drinking yoghurt tastes cheesy, the 'yoghurt balls in oil' are much more like cream cheese to me; I'm not certain they're labelled correctly, but they're very tasty.

The busiest shop, though, is the Asian fruit and vegetable shop; there's a continuous stream of deliveries to the front and the back, perpetually clogging traffic as they unload stacks of crates. The shop is packed with customers every time I pass by, with 3 cashiers working continuously.

Quality control appears to be the Indian and Sri Lankan grannies and aunties of the neighbourhood, who look over offerings with pursed lips, and grill the attendants suspiciously, 'Is this fresh? when was it cut? has it been sitting out for hours?' God help any goober who tries to pass off yesterday's watermelon to them.

...means you're in a car-based neighbourhood. In these suburbs, 95% of the front yards have been paved over to make extra parking space for the second and third car. Clearly, the good life requires four wheels or more.

...means if you find your favourite beer in a shop, buy it all. The 'ethnic' communities here are not traditionally big drinkers. The two pubs within walking distance seem populated only with ageing Irish builders who seem happy with lager and Strongbow.

Even the pub near work, which is now run by a former Medieval Baebe, doesn't yet have a tasty beer. In this aspect, I miss Hackney a lot, where we were spoiled for choice and price.

...means the parks seem empty; there is not the same dog-owning and dog-walking community here that was in Hackney.

When I walked through a park almost anytime of day in Hackney I'd see dogs and their owners; there was a regular group of morning walkers on my commute, and I enjoyed seeing the doggy social dynamics. The dogs seemed so happy to be out and about in the morning.

Now, there's the occasional single dog walker on my way to work, and an elderly gent walking a geriatric dog outside our building - the kind of couple where you're not certain who is walking whom.

Instead, the morning run is the parents towing children to the school next to us - crossing 4 lanes of traffic with lousy traffic lights not designed for pedestrians. The options for non-car-users are just appalling. Sigh.
abendgules: (Haggis)
England has 2 long weekends in May - one of the best innovations in bank holidays ever. It means that English spring and early summer is full of breaks, because Easter rolls back and forth between late March and April, as well as these two long weekends.

(Unfortunately the English have no break from Labour Day to Christmas - they desperately need a Thanksgiving. OTOH, they don't have a glorious fall to enjoy, whereas English springs are very charming.)

This year, the second bank holiday followed the 'tradition' of 3 days of rain.

Robert was away slaying orcs in a field Somewhere in Northamptonshire. He came back muddy to the knees, and very glad of a shower.

On my own, I entertained myself with a weekend of shopping. My shopping goes in fits and starts; I spend weeks without buying anything more exciting than lunch, and then lash out one weekend and replace great chunks of wardrobe or entertainment supplies. This weekend, it was mostly about Stuff to make More Stuff.

  • Saturday: Cornelissens' for the next pack of pergamenata, plus my shop-visit treat of a new bottle of ink and new nibs.

  • Sunday: eBay for yarn suitable for baby projects, for the round of sprogs due between now and August. After a couple of weeks of scouring the intawebs for ethical yarns that are local, well-made and affordable, it's sort of fun to search for the 'junk food' of knitting, cotton-acrylic blends in baby colours. Feels sort of like eating the whole bag of taco chips by myself...

  • Monday: the fabric shop with the scariest, or silliest, looking website on the planet: Fabricland.co.uk

Canadians: this is not your kind of Fabricland. This is a special southern England Fabricland all of its own.

This is the kind of website that makes web professionals like [livejournal.com profile] ingaborg cringe; it breaks all the rules of accessibility, usability, readability. It uses frames, it uses garish colours, it uses crying baby gifs for pete's sake. It shouldn't work.

And yet...I find it compelling, and I'm delighted by how low-tech and totally homemade looking it is. It totally conveys the tone and style of the business. It looks just like the shops feel when you walk in - like a outdoor market stall on the internet, which is appropriate, because that's how the business started (in Reading, not London).

I think it's awesome, and it makes me laugh. It was totally worth the trip to Kingston-upon -Thames.

It's not much help on the medieval fabrics front - the linens are mixed in with all the other suitings; there are no wools to speak of; only a handful of silks. Berwick Street it is not.

But it was a great source of printed cottons, totally wrinkle-proof mystery suiting for another shot at making work clothes, plus some lovely crepe de chine for a dress, for a wedding later this year.

Again, it felt a bit naughty to be buying cotton and synthetics even, after decades of hunting for medieval-compatible fabric. That's me, naughtily buying viscose!... No, I don't go out much, why?

Late in the weekend [livejournal.com profile] m_nivalis dropped by for a visit to test nibs and ask opinions on sweaters and on fitting Birgitta caps.

I'm a confirmed veil wearer so I'm always glad to see and hear of new veil arrangements, though I think by itself, without the covering veil, it wouldn't be that flattering.

Some links about St Birgitta caps she recommended:

Catrijn's dressmaker diaries
Same Catrijn's photos of progress (clearly keen on embroidery!)

Splendidly clear tutorial on making a cap without the embroidery down the seam - this one I have a hope of doing.

Wow this Katafalk lady does beautiful work! Every time I think I'm getting a handle on this sewing thing, I find another Swedish or Finnish medieval dress blog, and realise I'm just a duffer.
abendgules: (ohnoes_omg)
Amen, amen and again amen. Service was on when I got home yesterday.

Let the great reshelving plan begin!
abendgules: (monsters)
because that's my life right now!


Move went fairly smoothly. All our stuff is now at our new place, we've checked out of the old one and handed over the keys, and are sorting the last of the services.

It went as well as it did because we had awesome help: RA, part of the Kiwi network, and her highness Eleanor went gangbusters on packing and clearing the kitchen, and shlepping stuff down to the ground floor. This was building on the great goodwill from last week when we had more packers than boxes available: we're still pushing their good work around the lounge.

This heap of boxes outside the flat, ready to go, was a huge boon because the men-and-van were late; we were the second job of their day, and they were keen to minimise their work.

Robert had warned them about the routes into the flat (round the garden path, literally, or up and down some serious stairs) and we all opted for the garden path. They'd underestimated the time required to both load and unload, and Robert's guess was much closer, and they and we weren't finished til 8.30 at night.

I'd gone ahead to the new place, to meet [livejournal.com profile] thorngrove, who'd offered to help unpack, and we filled the wait for the moving van with dinner on the Kingsbury high street.

Thank all the appropriate sources it wasn't raining on Saturday. The skies opened on Sunday morning and we thanked the sources again.

On Sunday we were joined by Earl Paul and Lady Anne, who were wonderfully refreshing and cheery and went to work scrubbing, scooping up bits and sweeping through.

Ozbeg arrived midafternoon, and we were able to use the ancient and honourable traditional vehicle of the SCA (station wagons predate SUVs) to move the last 2% of stuff, which grew to about 4% when we remembered the huge wall decoration (lovely reproduction of a brass plaque of a 14th c lord and lady) which would not fit into an eco-vehicle.

By end of Sunday we were like zombies: having trouble focusing on more than one thing at once. It took me 20 minutes to make coffee on Monday morning, something that usually takes 5 mins.

If someone asked me a question I lost the thread of what I was doing and struggled to pick it up - this ability is only slowly returning. Having dozens of things to put away is not helping.

SO: we're moved, all our stuff (so far) survived the trip, there were no tears, Robert and I still like each other, and (as far as we know) our friends still like us.

Haggis has coped admirably. She commented on the trip occasionally on the 45 min car ride in her carrier, and set to exploring as soon as we let her out of the bathroom. She's hopping up and down to Explore the New Out, but we're keeping her indoors for a few days yet, to get used to the space.

She's used the litter under sufferance, after checking the new space very thoroughly for other options and exits; clearly civilised kittehs use the great outdoors for preference.

She's found that the coarse doormat is excellent for clawing, which is fine with us, and the windows are a good height for CatTV.


The fridge and freezer don't work, as we discovered the day after Robert had stocked the freezer.

They're 'integrated' units (read: more expensive ones, built to hide behind the cupboards) and someone defrosted the freezer with a sharp tool, possibly damaging it. The visible damage was obvious, but It wasn't obvious the cool-making no longer worked, b/c neither were turned on high.

Fortunately this was patently Not Our Fault, and the engineer confirmed on Monday that replacement was the only way to go. Will be sorted ASAP, mainly by someone else doing the hard work. Halellujah.

The recycling scheme in this borough is shameful: 'apartments' and other shared buildings don't yet have food waste recycling (which is available in our last borough, has been for years), and the rest of the recycling seems rudimentary.

There are 3 lonely bins that would normally serve one house, available for the whole complex of 37 flats, which seems mad. Someone is slacking on providing this service.

And: the recycling service doesn't take cardboard. Hello? what century is this?

Guess what we have lots of right now??

Today I investigated the housing association which owns our complex, and left a message for the housing manager. Now waiting for a reply.

The most alarming part of this move: no intawebs.

Phone and broadband transfer was supposed to happen on Monday. We have phone, but no intawebs.

I feel like a smoker trying to quit, who is cadging smokes off strangers (hey buddy, can I read my email on your tablet? can you spare me some surf minutes?).

I keep going in mental circles with my to-do list, because almost every task involves checking something online: when the garbage is collected, how to register to vote, sorting council tax, even just browsing for new shelves.

There's no longer handy Argos or IKEA catalogues left lying around, not even a phone book, the way there were when we last moved. It was a near-invisible change (no longer getting catalogues) but man, I feel helpless without a connection!

Next steps

Sorting intawebs, and the dreaded Trip to IKEA for shelving...
abendgules: (self-portrait)
On the weekend we explored yet another corner of London I'd not seen before. It would be more engaging if there weren't a deadline to find a new place to live.

Nevertheless, it reminded me of how so many communities are in this city - that in a suburb built in the 1930s in NW London could have several waves of migrant generations of Londoners in it: the 'original' locals, the Asian (read: Indian) migrants, the Greek cypriots of the 1970s, the Romanians now moving in.

We toured Queensbury, which has a definite 1930s feel to it in the housing and layout, and then walked south to Kingsbury. Funny how the latter is described as being in the Domesday book, whereas the former is built on a disused airfield, and its history appears to start in 1930s.

The area has connections to early aviation - on the Queensbury highstreet there's a little 'history trail' of sites associated with early pilots, inventors and other folks connected to de Havilland or to the old RAF airbase. The RAF museum is nearby, about 1km walk from the Tube station I use right now.

We ate lunch at a 'Rose restaurant' on the Kingsbury highstreet, which boasted the best of Indian and Chinese vegetarian cuisine, featuring 4 levels of strictness of vegetarianism, up to Jainist (the folks who avoid stepping on insects).

We could do worse than have this as a local; the food is fresh, brilliantly flavoured and reasonably priced - like my favourite kind of Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant, where they waste nothing on decor and table settings, and spend all the money on the food.

It reminded me that there was a Rose cafe in Ottawa (2 branches, in fact), which I loved dearly, that also served dosas and lassis.

While well served by the Tube, this part of London is emphatically not bike friendly the way Hackney is: it's heavily car-dominated. The houses in these 'burbs used to have little front yards, but the majority are now paved to add more parking space, which is what happens when 1 car families become 2 car families. Lots of car traffic.

There are still sidewalks, but I saw only 3 bikes on the whole visit. No green bike lanes, no blue bike superhighways: they're a fiction (nothing to keep the cars out of them), but at least they're an accepted fiction in the city and our current location.

There's a honking great hill between this area and my workplace: it's brisk-walking distance or an easy cycle, except for the damn hill. Will have to invest in maps to find the best way round.

The nearest Sainsbury's are not walking distance but are cyclable, and are both big; we get to test out the more local Morrisons, and will probably at least look in the Aldi, and as usual look past the Iceland, which are both closer still.

We have a line on a 'flat' - in quotes because it's not really a flat, but not quite a conventional house either. We viewed it on a whim on Saturday, and were pleasantly encouraged by the price and the condition of it, after the disappointments in S. London. So far, mention of Haggis has only raised the deposit cost, not the rent, which is also encouraging. Hoping hoping to sort this week.
abendgules: (self-portrait)
Author has a book deal to run to 8 books!


As a regular library user, I've gone so far to even buy these, so I can reread them.

Yay for Ben Aaronovitch!
abendgules: (Oooops)
...is very happy, having unwrapped a 10kg box of carve-able stone from J, [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy's other half.

It's beautiful white with pale brown striations, and silky smooth to touch and already cut into workable blocks. The most tedious part of doing moulds is squaring off.

It's not quite soapstone, but some type of stone suitable for carving that J can find very affordably in DE. They used it at Raglan, to make the hourglass token for their Highnesses, for Duncan and Eibhilin's 'make something cool at the event' challenge.

Robert, gloating over his new treasures:  'I'm importing stone from Germany for pewter casting...just like in period!'

So he's set for the holiday.

I've received my delivery of further soapy supplies, so I can make still more soaps and toiletries, but now with added colours and textures. My friends will be very, very clean this year.

We also got our Bah Humbug shirts in the mail - Wychwood brewery has the best label art going, and I love their silly shirts. My real favourite is of the Wychwood elves roasting a reindeer at Christmas time, saying 'ho ho ho...' in their typical mischievious way...

So we're both wearing the shirts at work today.
abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
This weekend I fought the sloth - well, once I'd gotten out of bed, I did.

Saturday we went to see Elizabeth I and her people, exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. Very worthwhile, even if you're not a 16th c mavin. Attended with Kat, who was a PS4 widow for the weekend.

I was very excited to find a portrait and works of a woman 'caligraphist' - a professional woman calligrapher, who lived in Edinburgh at end of 16th c. How cool.

Had a drink in the Coal Hole afterward, and then vietnamese for dinner with my sweetie. While we had a pleasant time, our frugal souls felt a bit hard done by.

exhibit: £12.50 x 2 = £25
drinks: £4 x 3 = £12
dinner: £35 (won't go there again, not worth it)
giftshop: £16

Total: £88 for an afternoon in London, and we haven't travelled 5 miles. I didn't count travel because we already have travelcards. I'll point this out next time someone moans about cost of events...

On Sunday I wrestled with my usual weekend blahs: have loads to do, can't settle on a task, sit and have a cup of tea til I figure it out, half the day disappears while I argue with myself. I sometimes wonder if anyone else loses days this way.

In the end, I settled for hauling out my perfumery supplies and looking at soapmaking again for Christmas. It's a slightly fiddly process, but an engaging one, and I now have the supplies for at least 2 batches of soap.

Ordered some supplies from Baldwins to this end.

I may try 'Spanish leather' this year, as described by S Pointer in her book about historic cosmetics, though I suspect it will be a very heavily scented process.

I did have a go at making scented bath bombs, but managed mostly to make a mess. Will double check the method for getting them to 'set' into a shape that is a little less chaotic - it worked well at the Make Lounge a couple of years ago, but I may have missed a step.

Late afternoon (took that long to pry myself out of the house) walked to Bangla City on Brick Lane, for more supplies - they're a good source for food-grade oils for creams and scrubs. Was reminded how much I hate crowds, especially oblivious ones. However, they also stock lye on the shelf, very cheaply.

Anyway: the upshot is, if you're on my giftlist, you're getting smellies.

Haggis entertained us on Sunday chasing her tail: apparently this tail is still giving her grief, and needs chasing, well into adulthood.

For added annoyance, her tail appears to send out 'I need chasing' signals in the most awkward of places: while she's perched on a windowsill, or on the top of the bedstead rail, or while she's exploring inside my large backpack, that was sitting on the landing. She only escaped her tail's clutches when the backpack started sliding down the stairs.

On the knitting front, am now experimenting with a TARDIS scarf to use up the 3/4 of a skein of TARDIS blue yarn leftover from the shawl. Am debating whether to add Daleks for variety.

I just finished the third book of Manda Scott's series about Boudica. I found the author in a Big Book of Historical Whodunnits recently, and was really impressed, and the series is just as good. 4th is on order at the library.

It's rare to find an author who incorporates a meaningful spiritual experience into the story - a bit like Pullman creating the daemons for his alternate world, the characters in this Britain have a vivid spiritual life, full of ghosts, gods and results from prayers,and they fully expect their actions affect their souls directly. These ghosts and gods are real, just as real as the physical, living people. Most (non-believing) authors can't set aside their modern selves enough to 'speak' as a believer from another period would.

Where her characters are speaking to ghosts of ancestors, friends and family, we as modern people would say, 'my mother's voice in my head says...' or 'that's my grandmother talking'.

It's akin to the different 'strains' of voices in your head; the ones that nag, the ones that tell you you're doing it wrong, you 'should' be doiong X, why aren't you doing Y, you're letting Z down. The gods, consistently, are neutral, avoid answering questions, but do ask a lot of probing, reflective questions of their believers.

I quite enjoyed this dimension in the story, but I know not everyone would.

Also interesting is that Scott is a reenactor, someone who has fought in battles, worn the clothes, eaten the food, camped under canvas.

Her characters still seem almost supernaturally physically fit and active (surviving swimming in winter streams), though perhaps I just don't expect anyone to be physically resilient, when I am so unfit. Only 100 years ago people living such an active life would not be so unusual.
abendgules: (tea in winter)
I enjoyed it enormously, this Sunday morning, on iPlayer.

Spent Saturday afternoon and evening at the local revel learning two 'new' Italian dances, taught by Lady Anne.

At the end, before we dressed for dinner, I presented the Bigger on the Inside shawl to her, which I finished last week. It was well received.

The revel was lovely: good turnout, good food, and a nice selection of dances to round out the day.
abendgules: (prickly)
I should have posted this in August, when we went, but I was too disappointed, and exhausted.

But someone I know has said they're headed to see it, so I thought it was time to post.

At the end of August, after Raglan, Robert and I had a random day in the city, and we passed the theatre showing War Horse. I'd wanted to attend since last Christmas but at that time found tickets were booked through til February, so it got put off.

Now, walking in, I could get tickets for the same week, and a selection of seats. WTH, I thought, it'll round out our summer holiday.

I'd watched the documentary about the War Horse production avidly before it opened in London - the intricacy of the 'puppets' amazed me, and I was intrigued by the mechanics of it, and the learning to make these devices turn into creatures on stage.

So ;ater that week, we had dinner at our favourite Chinese restaurant and headed to the theatre.

And we walked out at intermission, something I've never done before.

But I was so unhappy, and so irritated, that it overcame my inner frugalness that was bitching about the 'wasted' cost of the tickets.

Some of the issues were with the production. The lead actor was an utterly unconvincing teenager; I realise we have to suspend disbelief, but I guess I need help to do so.

The production overall was very 'shouty': it sounded like the actors weren't confident that their voices would reach everyone in the theatre and they had to raise the volume, but didn't have the skill to do it without shouting. So everyone's lines seemed over-loud, even those that were supposed to be low.

To confuse matters the lead singer of the musical pieces between acts was mic'ed, so his voice carried loudly over the audience. After getting accustomed to the shoutiness, hearing a lead singer clearly was a shock. It felt like they were trapped between two approaches - to mic or not to mic - and had decided to do both.

BUT...then the chorus was not mic'ed. Go figure.

The pacing was poor: it felt like the whole production was rushing to meet a deadline that everyone felt late for. There were no pauses, no moments of silence to let a line sink in.

But what broke it for me, and the reason I walked out, was the plot: that it was the story of a teenager from an alcoholic home who tries to care for a horse, that becomes a pawn in a dysfunctional family.

Now, lots of people come from dysfunctional families, and lots of people have experience with alcoholic families, and the kinds of abusive, manipulative, and enabling behaviour that happen in those families aren't unusual.

But I could not stomach having it feature as the fulcrum around which the family turned: that the father was a drunk, the mother an enabler ('he doesn't mean it; you don't know what he's been through; he was the one who stayed home to keep the farm going'), the father's brother and family prone to taking advantage of the father's weaknesses ('we'll just offer him a drink or two before bargaining'), the son and the horse suffering the consequences of these manipulations ('you'll do it or I'll shoot him now').

There was nothing glorious, heartwarming, or encouraging about it. It was a methodical exposure of what a broken family looks like, when you live in a culture that doesn't divorce, or worse, when a family 'chooses' to put up with the abuse 'for the sake of the family'.

What was weirdest to me was that I felt like I was the only one who noticed it.

The theatre was full of kids, ranging from young-ish to early teens, I think. There was a tween or teen next to me, with a younger sister further down. And as the lights went up for intermission I heard her say 'it's magical, it's just amazing'.

And I felt like screaming, 'Can't you see he should get out? Get the fuck out, now, now NOW! Don't play these fucking games with an animal's life. LEAVE. There's no fixing this family, no way at all. ANYTHING is better than becoming a pawn. Just GO. GET OUT.'

But I didn't.

When the lights went up, I could see from Robert's posture he wasn't enjoying it much, but was resigned. And I thought, why put up with this? paying money isn't enough reason to be subjected to a show that is upsetting and bothering you.

One usher said goodbye, as we walked out against the flow of attendees hurrying back into the theatre at the end of intermission. He didn't look surprised. 'Not enjoying it?' It must happen.

It's possibly my own fault, for not finding out more about the plot. But I had about as much information I usually have before deciding to watch a movie, probably more - I'd seen the ads, read the highlights of the reviews (uniformly glowing), and seen the documentary.

What struck me is that nowhere in any review, in any personal observation (one of my colleagues at work went, and said it was brilliant, though it was a weepie), in any promotion, was there any discussion of the alcoholic brokenness at the core of the story. Not a whisper, not a hint.

So either lots of people just don't notice it - it's a fairly conventional literary device for introducing conflict and drama - or it doesn't bother them.

I honestly cannot tell you how it ends (though historically, I can tell you the horses don't win the First World War), because I walked out.

I can tell you that I would not recommend it, as a way to see amazing theatrical effects.

Watch the documentary about the making of War Horse. There's loads of it on YouTube, and you get to see the mechanics of it up close, and it's very informative.

But it's poor entertainment.


abendgules: (Default)

August 2016

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