Dw i’n hoffi dysgu Gymraeg

I’m learning Welsh! Originally for a number of reasons (having lived close to Wales for so long I’m surprised it’s taken this long), but mostly because I really enjoy it. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to learn a language. I think the last entirely “new language” I learnt was formal logic, which has amusing potential for coded messages and greetings cards but no direct word/code for dragon.

My study methods currently include duolingo, the BBC’s excellent Welsh Challenge videos, and of course children’s TV. There’s a great programme called abc which concentrates on a different letter of the alphabet each week, and always features a song and lots of weird surreal sketches. Although one of the songs was just the word rygbi rybi several times- really working away from the stereotype!

I realised recently that one of the best things about learning a language is obviously using it, but, after an initial bout of drawing dragons shouting Draig dw i (I am a dragon) all over the place, I’ve grown a bit lax about doing so. So I’ve decided to unite two interests and create sketch study aids and hopefully an illustrated Welsh-annotated  map of the world!

I haven’t cracked on with the main map yet- I need to get a super-large piece of paper- but in the meantime I thought I’d better practice drawing the things that will populate my map. There’s a sample below:




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Like a hardy winter vegetable…

The blog returneth!  So incredibly neglected, especially as so much has happened in the last many months.

As I write I am sat lounging on the sofa in the front room of my Victoriany (?) terrace house in York, listening to the occasional firework go off in the distance, and musing on life’s vagaries (as I’m sure someone once put it).  There’s a cake of dubious distinction (pear, chocolate & orange) resting in the kitchen, a cup of orange and ginger on the side waiting to be warmed, I’m not entirely sure where my toothpaste is, and I’ve got to make the bed at some point.  I just finished watching “Shall we dance” another Fred and Ginger film- my current addiction- those films just make me so happy! And convince me I can dance haha.

Since I moved here at the end of September, or really since I was offered the job I moved here for, I feel like I’ve been working hard to catch up with my own life.  Or not working;  floating around wondering what’s going on, and where this path is going to lead me, without the faintest clue except that it was a good decision to start on it.

Hmmm. Perhaps that’s enough musing late at night. In any case, like the wise broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower and swedes, this blog shall sprout from the mud of obscurity back into a glorious winter harvest of words.  Or something like that.




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Days and changes.

Hello again! It’s been a good while since I last blogged I know (March! wow, March feels like years ago) and an awful lot has changed since I last updated you.  Over the next weeks or so I’m going to fill in a couple of blanks with blasts from the past (mainly because I did some awesome things a couple of months ago that I really want to share), but to get started again I thought it was probably best to fill you in on all the changes.

So! I now have a job, in a museum (well in museums) in Edinburgh! Hurrah! After such a long time spent looking for work and applying for things, I still sometimes find it hard to get my head around the fact that I’m actually employed (and have been since mid June). Living in Edinburgh is great, it feels almost weirdly natural to be here,  and it suits me perfectly- all the good bits of a city without the massive impersonalising size. I walk everywhere- to work, to the beach, through Holyrood park, to the supermarket, to the cinema, to the library. At the moment there are lilac bushes all over the place, and I often catch the scent on the wind whilst I’m walking and turn to find it peeking out from behind some boarded area, garden or wasteland.

There’s a lot of green space in Edinburgh, and I always seem to be finding more. From Holyrood park with Arthur’s seat and Salisbury crags jutting out of it, to the Meadows- a big public park which I walk through on my way to work or town, to little gardens hidden along the royal mile with formal planting, and beds of herbs and roses, nature is everywhere, which moving from the Shire to a city is an enormous boon.

Working in museums is great for getting to know a place  as I learn so much everyday, and always have a reason for learning more. It also adds another layer to my understanding of the place; as I learn where everything is, and how it physically fits together, I’m also able to add in stories and historical facts onto my understanding of places, houses and streets.  Already I feel like I have a good store of knowledge, but I also have an always increasing list of new things to find out about-  what “natural sponges” were the best to use for printing patterns onto ceramics, how elm trees were hollowed out to make pipes,  why teapots and coffeepots are different shapes to name just a few odd examples.  Recently I’ve been reading up about housing reform in the old town between 1800 and the present, and how they relate to the actions and works of an amazing polymath called Patrick Geddes. But after that who knows what I’ll be reading up on. Everything I learn is extra information that I can share with any curious visitors- so all this knowledge is useful, which I just find brilliant.

Now it is August, in Edinburgh, which most of you will already know means an awful lot of tourists, almost as many flyers stuffed into one’s hand, and a bemusingly large array of shows, exhibitions and events. Aka the festival season. So far I’ve been to one fantastic show which was a comedy science thing- which included fire tornadoes, ukelele comedy songs and spreadsheets among other things; and one disappointing but free thing last night about the Jacobites.  The other day I also stumbled onto the World Press Photo exhibition in the Scottish Parliament (not literally- I know I’m clumsy but I try not to walk into things in public places!).That was just… I don’t know  how to explain it, it was incredible and moving, and excellent photography, and harrowing and some of it just broke my heart. It was the type of exhibition where you have to work hard to remember you’re in a public place so you don’t openly cry. And it made me feel like I need to work harder and we all need to work harder to make everything better in the world, but frustrated because I don’t know how. And I’d recommend it to anyone in Edinburgh, but if you’re not then I’ve copied a link below.

Wow this blog post is long. To prevent it getting longer still, and to ensure I actually leave the house today and go see some more awesomeness  (or at least get some fresh air) I’m going to end here.  Next blog will be a lot more prompt!

http://www.worldpressphoto.org/awards/2013 (There were also some lovely photos of penguins! )

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Picture postcards

Hello! and happy beginning of March, start of spring  and fourth week of lent! To celebrate the fact that I have now finally connected camera, camera connecting cable, internet and motivation, I thought I’d catch you up with some snapshots (ahaha!) of the last month and a bit.

Beer and a notebook plus sunshine and time equals formation of master plans (mwahahahaa) and a sense of peace.

Scone? S'gone?




A somewhat overly ambitious microwave cheese scone. (The Great British Bake off has a lot to answer for!)





Snow Snowscape

Glorious colours, the moon,  and a mistletoe tree.








Mmmmeringues!  preheat oven 150C, 4 egg whites- beat till stiff, 1 mug caster sugar- beat in tbsps till all in, beat till stiff and glossy, spoon onto greaseproof paper, oven down to 140C, cook 1hr, turn oven off and leave to cool in oven. Make a very rich omelette from the yolks in the microwave or add to other recipes.


I’ve grown a narcissus- it smells lovely but what does it say about me?






Recipe adapted from here : http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/10002/meringues

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hoverboards, Snow, Libraries and Murder

Tremendously delayed Christmas Wishes and and almost as belated  Happy New Year! Although I’m sure it’s fast receding into  dim memory I hope you all had a lovely holiday and have got off to a great start this year. I have for the most part, although I still kind of feel that 2013 should be part of some far off futuristic realm full of hoverboards, robots and a new but terrifying world order (see 2000AD).

[Got a bit distracted there by trying to work out when those comics are set, and then remembering how worrying I always found their vision of the future. ]

So, the first snows of 2013 have been and gone. I built a lovely snowman called Bob with the help of my mother, a couple of spades and some planks of wood, and it seemed like he lasted for weeks before being suddenly and completely eroded by an overnight storm. A stump of ice, two thick looking sticks, a few damp coals and a sad looking carrot were all that remained where the day before a happy 6ft tall snowman had been. It was time.

Spring is now in the air, bitter cold replaced by bright blustery skies and unexpected warmth. Today we had a “planned power outage” from 9-4, and so ventured forth to Shobdon Airfield for much needed tea, bacon sandwich and detailed perusal of the papers. I’d never been before and was surprised at how warm the corrugated tea hut managed to stay. It has an excellent view of the runway, which my Dad assured me in the summer is filled with light aircraft and helicopters zooming in and out. Then to Leominster Library for a quick check of the internet , a browse of the books, and an incredible feeling of peace.  It really is just a lovely space to spend time in, especially on a quiet  sunny day like today when you can sit at a desk in the sunlight surrounded by books and with no need to do anything,  but with so many options to do so.

Speaking of libraries (and jumping back a bit) on Monday I went to the British Library in London to see their “Murder in the Library” exhibition, which took the form of an A-Z of the murder mystery and detective genre. Although the exhibition wasn’t enormous it was excellent- incredibly well written information, examples of books, pamphlets, manuscripts and puzzles. My favourite were the jigsaw puzzle books whose solution was contained in a jigsaw puzzle and the dossiers of information where instead of a story the reader  is given a collection of clues and takes on the role of the detective. It was also intriguing to find out more about why  and when certain trends took hold (true crime, “golden age”, police procedural etc), and how the case made famous in the Suspicions of Mr Whicher had led to a thirst for murder literature that continues today.

Next to the exhibition was a cafe twined around, or rather dwelling in the shadow of,  a HUGE bank of antique books in the King’s Library Tower (containing George III’s collection); the perfect location for a cup of tea and an attempt to plot out my own murder mystery which was great fun. Behind the library (although in a space which has so many doorways and directions to explore it might be better described as to the side of) was a collection of stamps in pull-out trays and next to that “Treasures of the British Library”- the kind of exhibition that reminds you of the immense variety of books and papers and things to read and learn in the world and makes you wish you could come back day after day to examine them properly, and enjoy them in different ways.   If you are ever in London with a couple of hours to spare, especially at Kings Cross/ St Pancras station which is right next door (incidentally also on the right!) then I would recommend a visit.

Okay, that’s probably enough for now. Lots to catch up on (not least a lowdown on the fascinating Integrated Pest Management course I went to last week which left me with an improved understanding of what all those little traps you see around museums catch). One day soon I will find my camera and camera connecting cable at the same time and add some pictures, so check back if you like your blog posts illustrated.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paris holds the key to your past…

Bonjour! Ca va? Cava? not at this time of day thanks.

This time last week I was in Paris, meandering around a festive market next to the Sacre Coeur, feeling all the warmer for a vin chaud with added amaretto- yum! I was nearing the end of a 4 day whirlwind winter holiday, booked relatively last minute to celebrate my sister’s birthday.

The last time I visited Paris was at the end of an excellent interrailling adventure across Europe. It was intense, exciting, exhausting, brilliant. This time was a completely different, although still excellent, experience; although we went to some of the same places, we stayed in a hotel rather than a hostel, ate out on two occasions and even caught the metro all over the place. It was bitterly cold, especially the two evenings we spent walking around seeing the illuminated city.

We did all the usual tourist things- Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Champs Elysee & Arc du Triomphe, and even ate frogs legs (they really do taste like chicken!) and snails (a tad musty when tasted through the garlic, a bit like old moss).  A highlight for me was Versailles- the Hall of Mirrors and state rooms, and the fountains and gardens- magnificent, although wintry. I have a book of inter-war photos of Versailles that I bought in a second hand bookshop once- it’s really interesting to compare how it looks now with how it was then, with men in boaters and women in long skirts, and no chandeliers and less gilt but more trees.  Another highlight was Sacre Coeur- its just so beautiful, it feels old, and modern, with incredible paintings and stained glass windows, and most of all like a living place of prayer.

When my head wasn’t filled with the song “Paris holds the key to your past” (from Anastasia- best/most-stuck-in-head line being #if you think you can’t you’ll find you can can, everyone can can can you can can can tooo#) it was happily singing along to French classroom classics such as “le chat a la promenade” and “le coq et mort”.

I dredged up my French language skills from the depths of memory- it really surprised me how much I could remember and understand.The most rewarding use was reading two silk tapestry things embroidered one with a letter from Marie Antoinette to her sister in law, basically saying she was going to die soon, and another with the last testament of Louis XVI  entrusting his family to God and forgiving his enemies, so far as I could make out (these were in the Louvre, I didn’t just pick them up around about).

We came back as we left- on the Eurostar and train to Oxford, and then returned home to a freezing cold, but thankfully un-pipes-frozen-and-flooded house. Hurrah!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

O Tannenbaum

I saw this when I went into the shed to get logs for the fire the other day, and wanted to share.

Christmas Tree 2010 and 2011, on the 30th November 2012

I don’t really understand how ! Its a bit tempting to spray paint them both green or silver and stand them in pots, although a better use would probably be to cut them up and put them on the fire.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment