My Shop (work in progress!)

Monday, 30 July 2007

Place to Be

Every yearsince 2003 there has been an annual Nick Drake gathering in Tanworth-in-Arden, the sleepy Warwickshire village where Nick grew up and is now buried.
Last year was the first time that Vince, me, our friends James and Rebecca and some of his family had gone to this gathering and we had a bloody great time. It was a bit of a farce getting down there from Scotland as we were told our train was cancelled due to Virgin staff being on strike, only to have to leg it to a different platform to get on a train to Birmingham. It was hot and everybody was trying to get on our train as theirs had been cancelled.
We made it in the end though. On the Friday evening there is a more informal concert in the village hall and on the Saturday is the concert "proper" in the church. For such a small village the church is HUGE!
Last year we stayed in a B&B in Solihull, this year we're camping in Tanworth itself, hence the reason why I want it to be good weather, but not too hot, at the weekend. I'm not looking forward to trying to take all our camping essentials on the train!
This time we're going via James and Rebecca's in Surrey so Vince and James can practice the songs they're playing. As you can imagine they don't get to do that very often due to the miles involved! If you click on the link above you'll see some photos of James and Vince, as well as other performers, in the gallery section.
So, if you want to come along then please do. It's good place to meet some great musicians playing beautiful music in a scenic place. Plus it's FREE (apart from the drinks)! Mine's a cider thanks....

Weather Witch

Picture from

My mum (Gill) think's that I am a weather witch.

When at Ehenside School I made it snow and we were off for a whole week! At Whitehaven School we had been off for a couple of days due to snow, I wanted to have one more day off but mum reckoned the school would be open again. We tuned into Radio Cumbria and sure enough Whitehaven School was still closed, due to the grounds being very icey.

We stayed in Tower House in March this year for a weekend. We had the place until Monday morning but Vince and I couldn't get the time of work. I wished that we got snowed in so we couldn't leave as we had plenty of food and fuel. I managed to get it to snow but unfortunately by the evening, when my parents were giving us a lift back, the snow had melted.

In my blog Flamin' June I wished for cooler weather as I couldn't stand the heat. The Bishop of Carlisle can blame the gays all he likes but unfortunately I might be to blame for all the rain.

I have tried to wish it to be better weather but it isn't working. Maybe I am just a bad weather witch. Or maybe even more specifically a precipitation witch!

I am however now worried that I have overdone it. I wasn't specific enough in my wish for it to be not as hot as it was. I can't get the rain to stop! I need it to because I want to go camping in Warwickshire (see next post)!

So calling all good weather witches - please make it sunny on 4th, 5th and 6th August in Warwickshire but not too hot please! I don't want to die in my tent or get sunburn.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

The tale of the Aquascutum Coat

It was a hot day in September 2006. My mum (Gill) and I were shopping in Carlisle and were searching for a hideous nightie for her to wear onstage. I wasn't looking for anything in particular. However, I had said to myself in Stirling that once I had a well paid job in Carlisle I would treat myself to a posh winter coat, for around £100, as my current one had gone bobbly even though it was worth £70 from Topshop. I bought it the sales for £30 though.

We went into Age Concern on Botchergate and there were several ladies winter coats on the rack, all in pretty decent nick. I looked at the tag of one that was a lovely gray - size M, £2.75. I couldn't believe how cheap it was, I would be perfectly willing to pay £10 or more for a winter coat in a charity shop.

I took the coat down from the hanger and it was so heavy! I didn't really want to try it on as it was so hot but the thought of a bargain spurred me on. It was only when I came to put it on that I realised how much of a bargain it was - the coat was like new and sported an Aquascutum label inside. I showed my mum with glee and we could hardly believe the good fortune.

The coat fits me like it was made for me. It is the warmest coat I have ever owned. So I did get to treat myself to an expensive winter coat that year, only it cost me just £2.75! I am not sure exactly how much it's worth but I reckon that a second hand Aquascutum coat could probably set you back about £400! So it just shows that you should always keep an eye out in your local charity shop.

The coat pictured above is almost identical to mine, except mine is not tweed, just plain grey. People have asked me if I'm going to sell it on eBay to make a profit. I have to admit that the idea is a little tempting but I love my coat too much; I may never sell it and keep it as a family heirloom.

Besides I love looking like a KGB agent.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Trick of the Mind

No I am not talking about the Derren Brown TV programme (although it is rather good isn't it). I am talking about the weird optical illusions that our brain creates from ordinary things.

I am one of those people that makes shapes out of clouds, patterns in carpets etc. Once under the influence of a "herbal cigarette" I saw a minotaur's head made out of toilet roll at the bottom of the toilet, which freaked me out. Had I not been under the influence of drugs I'm sure I would have seen the minotaur anyway but I would have thought it was cool.

This morning, in one of Vince's t-shirts that was crumpled on the floor, I saw the face of Falcor looking much like he does in the picture above.

Does anybody know how or why our mind makes us see images in everyday objects and patterns?

Friday, 6 July 2007

Bagpuss Obsession

As a child I loved Bagpuss. I had only very vague memories of the programme but I remembered that I loved it!

I was reintroduced to Bagpuss a few years ago by Ruth of Journal of a Wise Woman as she too loved him. She had the DVD of all the episodes and one evening we had gone round for a meal and watched the episode about the small soft Hamish.

I have been collecting Bagpuss memorabilia for a number of years now - a furry pencil case, a ring binder, three pairs of socks, a hot water bottle cover/pyjama case with attached Charlie Mouse which sings the fix-it song, a cuddly Bagpuss sitting on a cushion which says "YAWN! I'm really quite a friendly old cat", a singing Charlie Mouse and some stickers which were the contents of Bagpuss crackers. Of course I have the DVD too.

Also some unnecessary Bagpuss/Radiohead anal knowledge for you: Thom Yorke (lead singer of Radiohead) is also into Bagpuss. He wanted Oliver Postgate (co-creator of Bagpuss) to direct the video of their single 'There There'. As Oliver is in his 80s and retired, he declined. Thom has tried to get his son Noah into Bagpuss with no luck. Maybe he'll have more luck with his daughter Agnes Mair.

I have even created the term "Bagposian" which means of or relating to Bagpuss, in the style of the programme Bagpuss!

Last week I saw a flyer for the Brampton Live festival that is happening locally. I saw on the front the word "Bagpuss" and wondered what it was all about. Was it a band that had called themselves after the saggy old cloth cat or was it actually something to do with the programme.

It turns out that it is the singers Sandra "Madeleine the Rag Doll" Kerr and John "Gabriel the Toad" Faulkener who will be performing songs from the show! I leapt up to tell Vince of my discovery and he said "You weren't supposed to see that it was going to be a surprise!" I told him he shouldn't have left the flyer on the coffee table in blatant view.

We're still hoping to go, I hope there are still tickets. Also how we'll get to Brampton on a Sunday I'm not sure... I don't know how good the bus timetable is. But here's hoping I'll get a slice of the music from Bagpuss.

We'll probably be the oldest people there unaccompanied by a child but I don't care!

Monday, 2 July 2007

What is the universe trying to tell me?

When I was about 17/18 I went to a weekly writing group called Juice which was organised by New Writing North. There I met a lad called James who went to the other secondary school in Whitehaven to me. We got along OK but didn't keep in touch after the sessions finished.

I took a year out after my A Levels and went to university aged 19. In my first creative writing class there was a face I recognised but couldn't work out why. I asked the lad if he had gone to St Benedicts school. He said yes and asked if I had. I told him I had gone to Whitehaven but recognised him. As Whitehaven is a small place we thought we probably saw each other wandering about. Later on in the class I had a eureka moment - it was James who had been to the Juice writing sessions. How odd that we both ended up at the same university in the same year (I was in the school year above him), both studying creative writing and both in the same class (there was at least four classes).

We stayed in the same class throughout our three years at university and were fairly friendly but weren't best buddies or anything like that. After graduation we didn't keep in touch.

One evening last year Vince and I were heading to my parents' house for the weekend. I was just sitting there minding my own business when a voice said "Karen Hands!" I turned to look and there was James - it had been over a year since I had last seen him. It turned out that he too was living in Carlisle now and was also heading to Whitehaven to see family.

Another time when I was travelling back from Whitehaven a voice said "We've got to stop meeting like this!" and there was James again! OK so it's not so weird that we meet on the train to or from Whitehaven as we both have family down there.

What was the weirdest thing was what Vince said on Friday as we were walking home together on Friday. He works as a temp in the payroll department at Carlisle Infirmary and he said that they were getting another temp in starting today and his name was James G********. "You're kidding that's my friend James from uni, the one we always bump into on the train!" Vince was equally as shocked as I was.

I meant to text James about this but forgot. It got me thinking - wherever I go he has followed me or am I following him? It really is quite odd. I said to Vince to let me know if it was in fact my friend James. Sure enough it was! He even said in his email 'James says to tell you “bwa-ha-ha, there is no escaping me”'.

So what I want to know is what the fuck is going on?