My Shop (work in progress!)

Sunday, 21 November 2010

New blog

I have decided to start a new blog to share my art. Don't bother going there yet as I haven't scanned anything in. However it is called The Shadow of Ice.

Monday, 10 May 2010

The merits of (charity) shopping

When I was a child and didn't have a big appetite I used to eat off a plate that looked like the above. My mum also had a few other pieces of the set. I have fond memories of the poppy plate because it reminds me of both my mum and my childhood.

As a depressive I find it a bit of a pick me up to have a bit of retail therapy. Fortunately I don't suffer from bipolar disorder and don't get too carried away. It is even more of a thrill when you can say you've bagged an absolute bargain.

Charity shopping is akin to shopping in TK Maxx. You have to be prepared to rummage. Sometimes there will be gems and other times there will absolutely bugger all. It also depends on where your charity shop is. The Oxfam in Cheltenham was fabulous, I bought many a brilliant book from there when on holiday. The charity shops in Stirling were pretty good because they contained a lot of student cast offs and also those of some of the fairly rich folk that lived in the area. I can't imagine anything of the Queen's ended up in them though. In Carlisle I try to buy most things from the shops on Botchergate as items are priced much cheaper than in the ones in the town centre. For example you might get a set of three cups and saucers for £2.50 on Botchergate whereas in the town centre it might cost you upwards of £5. I don't think I will ever find a bargain as good as the coat I bought though - £2.75 which is amazing for a massive winter coat, and astounding once I saw the label inside and saw it was Aquascutum!

On the day I bought the Aquascutum coat (some time in late 2006) I saw a lovely dinner service in the window of a charity shop that had unfortunately closed for the day. It was made in the 60s/70s and had a green and blue bold floral motif in the centre. It was gorgeous and £10. As I'd recently moved from Stirling, and was just setting up home properly after graduating I really wanted a nice set of plates. I wondered how the hell I would get it home as I didn't have a car and didn't really have any friends in the area yet. My mum came up on another shopping trip to Carlisle very soon afterwards and went in the shop but alas someone else had nabbed it! It must have been charity shop karma saying that I couldn't get two such good bargains...

In April 2007 I blogged about trying to find a milk jug in the charity shops and to no avail. I resorted to trusty eBay instead. I saw one with a lovely retro paisley-ish pattern on it and instantly recognised it as being by the same pottery (J & G Meakin) as the poppy plate because of the similarity in colours. I bagged it for a bargainous £4.50 including postage.

Three years on my friend Sara and I have been pottering around the town centre and been for a coffee. We decide to walk home down Botchergate to browse the charity shop windows. They weren't open as it was a Sunday but we noticed a nice cake stand for her as she intends to have a retro tea party stall at Solfest this year. Further down the road there was a part dinner service in exactly the same pattern as my milk jug!

It was priced £20 for the lot. Although the photo above is not of my actual dinner service, it is identical in content. However I only have one jug and no sugar basin. Altogether there were six dinner plates, six lunch plates, seven side plates, two serving dishes with lids, serving platter and one jug. Bargainous! Especially as I came across this site when looking for photographs and you can pay £20 for one piece! The actual pattern of my set is below, called Madrid:

I swithered overnight whether I should bother going back today to buy the set as I have enough plates really. After splitting possessions with Vince I had needed to buy a few more plates and bowls and got a rather lovely set from Wilkinsons. Did I need the plates or the £20 more? Would I kick myself if I didn't buy them? Sara sent me a text message asking if I wanted to go see if they were still there this afternoon as she was bored and wanted to get out of the house for a bit, having no plans for her day off (lucky part timers). I decided that if someone hadn't beat me to it this time it was a sign I should buy them, so they are currently drying on my draining rack!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Out with the old, in with the new

Vince finally moved out at the end of February, and I have slowly been turning the spare room where he slept into a craft den. It is still not finished but it has been painted nice relaxing shades of green and been fumigated to get rid of the smell of cigarette smoke. I managed to get myself a lovely knitting chair in the sale in Next (for much cheaper than advertised on the website), although I'm not sure how much knitting I'll get done on it as I think I'll have to fight Marwood for it!

"This is MY chair."

Feel the fear and do it anyway... the title of a self help book my mother mentions from time to time. It is what she sometimes says when I ask for advice. It annoys me because I know it's what I should do, it's just difficult! I suppose I always hope she'll come up with an easier solution, a bit like being a child again. I think most adults want this from time to time, or when you stop wanting this does it mean you're a grown up?

I'm an anxious sort of person. I'm not entirely sure where this came from because as a child I'm sure I was irritating as hell. I wanted to be the next Bonnie Langford and used to dance and sing all the time. I used make dens out of the old foam sofa and jump off the top onto the cushion from the papasan chair. In part I blame educational safety information films that I was made to watch. I could have done without most of these - as an intelligent girl I knew that train tracks, fires and farms were dangerous (especially growing up in one of the most rural counties!). I did not need to see people get electrocuted (trains), run over (trains), beheaded (head out of train window), burned (fires), suffocating (fires), maimed by machinery (farms) and drowing (in a slurry pit). My mum telling me not to do such things without graphic representation would have been enough, absolutely no need to fuel my overactive imagination.

In day to day life I probably face the fear and do it anyway without even realising it. If I do realise then I often don't give myself a pat on the back because it is something that had to be done, and everyone has to do it. But not today!

My friend Hayley-Jane had mentioned that her cat Missy had been playing in the garden and had unsuccessfully been trying to catch butterflies. I later looked out the window and saw the little black cat, that I have nicknamed Salem, chasing something in part of the closed off school playground (wall repair works due to extreme cold). From a distance I guessed it was a large bee.

About an hour later I decide it is time to do some dishes, so head downstairs to put Rammstein on so the task isn't so unbearable. There is Marwood jumping around madly chasing something. An ENORMOUS bee! I am scared of bees and wasps. Quite a normal phobia as they sting. Wasps are beasts of Satan; bees just bother me if they get too close because I know that they'll fly away once they realise I am not a flower. I wonder if it is the same bee that Salem was chasing.

I manage to call Marwood away from batting it so he doesn't get stung, and shut him out the room. I look to windowsill and bee is not dead. I climb onto sofa to open the window in the hope that it will fly out. It does not. I go into the kitchen to deal with some of the washing up, run away and hatch a plan.

Through the kitchen window I can see through the living room window to the sill. And the bee. It is wiggling its back legs over its behind, much like you see a fly doing. I wonder if Marwood has injured it, and also whether if injured they commit bee seppuku by pulling out their own stings. Bee becomes still. I go to see if bee is dead. Bee is still alive and looks as if it is having palpitations; the only bit moving is the back end moving subtly up and down. I am both happy and sad. Although I still wouldn't really want to deal with bee corpse it is preferable to live bee, but they are apparently becoming endangered and I like honey and don't want the world to end.

I go back to the kitchen to further consider plan and wash up. I decide the traditional removal of creepy crawlies of glass-over-the-top-with-cardboard-underneath will suffice. This means I will have to get closer to bee than I would like. But my only other option is to wait until my friend Jan comes round to knit at 7, which is more than seven hours away, and I might lose bee in the meantime. I would much rather know where bee is. So, I have to deal with bee myself.

At the sink I finalise the plan: glass over bee, may as well be a dirty glass as I'll want to wash it afterwards anyway. Cardboard under bee, take glass containing bee outside and release hoping it will be so pleased by freedom it will just crawl/fly away without wanting to sting me. As I have very sensitive skin I wear gloves to wash up, and couldn't help but think:

WITHNAIL: ...Keep back. Keep back. The entire sink's gone rotten. I don't know what's in here.
A space for the saucepan is cleared. MARWOOD stares at it while WITHNAIL pours water from the kettle and envelops himself in a cloud of super-heated steam. A volcanic growl comes from the fog. Bellowing loudly, WITHNAIL passes at speed with his hand in the air.
MARWOOD: I told you. You've been bitten.
WITHNAIL: Burnt. Burnt. The fucking kettles on fire.
MARWOOD: There's something floating up.
WITHNAIL paces back into the kitchen. A voice laced with revenge.
WITHNAIL: Fork it.
MARWOOD: No. No. I don't wanna touch it.
WITHNAIL: You must. You must. That shit'll bore through the glaze. We'll never be able to use the dinner service again.
He tugs at a drawer stuffed with domestic items.
Produces a tool.

Here. Get it with the pliers.
MARWOOD: No. No. Give me the gloves.
Rubber gloves are handed across. WITHNAIL stares as they go on.
WITHNAIL: That's right. Put on the gloves. Don't attempt anything without the gloves.

(Please note that my sink had not gone rotten, and that I named my cat after the 'I' character, he cannot talk. Well not English anyway).

So donned in my gloves I opened all doors between me and outside, grabbed a glass waiting to be washed and went into the living room trying to find something to slide underneath. At last I found a use for one of the many Conservative election flyers which had been put through my door. Who needs the Power of Grayskull when you have the power of Rammstein! Also quite aptly this track came on, and I had my CD player on shuffle:

Sehnsucht versteckt (longing hides)
sich wie ein Insekt (like an insect)
im Schlafe merkst du nicht (while asleep you don't notice)
dass es dich sticht (that it stings you)

Bee caught, Tory crap placed underneath, out into the yard and FREEDOM! Bee just flew right away so obviously hadn't been too injured by Marwood's paws and claws. And just to prove that I am not overexaggerating, I was brave enough to take some photos once bee was captive.

Sehnsucht lyrics copyright Rammstein, English translation copyright Jeremy Williams, from Herzeleid.
Withnail & I script copywright Bruce Robinson.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Liebe ist für alle da - Rammstein

Is there anything more embarrassing going to a concert with your middle class, middle aged parents? You would think it would be especially so with Rammstein but this was not the case. There were a lot of people there with their parents; OK so most of them HAD to go with their parents because they were under 18. But I had to go with mine too because I don't really know anyone else who would want to see them live!

That morning I had an appointment with a psychiatrist in Whitehaven (because I know all of them in Carlisle) and was told I was definitely depressed. Well, yeah. It was good though because it put my mind at rest about a few things and seem to be on the right medication. In the interview she asked me if I self harmed and I said no, then I could see her looking at the cat scratches on my arm and I had to suppress a giggle. I wonder what she'll say in the letter...

Soon we were on our way, with Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, Reise, Reise and Sehnsucht on the stereo to get us in the mood. This week I have been mostly reading Colour Now by Kevin McCloud. As a result I was viewing all the scenery, especially on Shap, as one huge colour scheme. Even the horrid yellow and purple-grey of the snow laden sky got a look in.

Mum had printed off directions and a map but we still managed to get lost. This was partly because the car park was badly signposted, but mostly because dad didn't listen to mum's instructions of "turn right". Perhaps it was because he was hoping they would play Links 2, 3, 4? He wasn't disappointed in that respect anyway. I was just sad that I never got to shout "ÜBER DIE KREUZUNG!" (over the crossroads) which is one of the few useful phrases I remember from GCSE German.

Our hotel for the night was the Stay Inn, on the cusp of Manchester city centre and the less salubrious Salford. "Make sure you take all the valuables out of your car. They won't be able to get away with your car but they would break into it" said the German receptionist cheerily. When we told him we were going to see Rammstein he was at first surprised (none of us like metallers most of the time, apart from dad with his long hair) and then jealous. It seemed he'd had to put up with a lot of people saying that was the reason for their stay.

Mum slipped into her custom made Rammstein tshirt, made up of patches of an official one which was too small, dad lay on the bed as he wasn't getting changed (a white shirt and a cardigan. A CARDIGAN I tell you). Of course I embraced the night and dressed head to toe in black - black dress with lace, black leggins, black boots. I didn't bother doing my hair properly as it was raining a bit but did put a bit of rocker's shadowy make up on. I would have been more OTT but I didn't want to look to Corpse Bride whilst eating in Pizza Express.

The MEN Arena is the worst gig venue I've ever been too. It has a corridor all the way round it with little shops and stalls in, but no seats. I could understand if they had no bins like a railway station, but what's wrong with seats? We'd been avoiding the support act Combichrist by going to Wetherspoon's so fortunately we weren't stood in the Corridor of Boredom for long. But then began the Walk of Terror. The MEN is set out like an amphitheatre with the stage at one end, a flat section for standing and then rows upon rows of seats. We were standing, and in their wisdom the designers decided to make us walk down lots of stairs. I am scared of heights. It was dark. The stairs must have been at a 30 degree angle with a descent of about 200 feet. I have never been so pleased to enter a crowd before.

Our timing was perfect. We heard one and a half Combichrist songs, so in essence have heard them all. The two drummers were impressive and when the singer wasn't screaming/growling they weren't too bad. More standing around whilst the roadies prepared the stage. Evil man farts and Major Tom wandering selling beer. Then all becomes dark for Rammstein are about to take to the stage...

The two guitarists hack their way through "walls" with axes. Then the singer, Till Lindeman, cuts his way through a metal door using a "welding flame". They open with Rammlied, the first track from LIFAD, a perfect opener as it begins with Till singing unaccompanied and then all the band joining in at once with a huge blast of noise. Plus we get to shout "RAMMSTEIN!" during the song a lot, and it's about them being fabulous and just what you need if you're feeling down.

Rammstein are famous for their pyrotechnics and stage design. Plenty of pyros, an exploding petrol pump (during Benzin), exploding babies with Borg-like laser eyes which dropped down from the ceiling, huge angel wings with fiery tips (see my mum's blog for a video), and a flaming gimp. The poor keyboard player is killed in a different way on every tour. During the Reise, Reise tour he was flambéed in a giant saucepan during the song Mein Teil, which is about the German who advertised on the internet for someone to eat. This time Till picks up the keyboard player, which is incredibly easy as the guy is like a stick and Till has arms like legs (swoon). He puts him in a hole onstage, grabs a bucket, and is then lifted into the air on a hydrolic platform. The contents of the bucket start fizzing and Till pours hot molten lead on top of the keyboard player. After a couple of minutes he returns unscathed, apart from the fact that his boiler suit is now all sparkly!

I had such an amazing time and didn't think I could get so hoarse and partched at a gig where the songs are not in my "mother's tongue". I ended up with an adoring fan myself because I was singing along so much. Sadly he was only about 18 and shorter than me. And no I was not wearing huge rock boots, men in Manchester seem to be made short! German GCSE and repeated listening to the songs mean I can sing some parts of songs and partly understand them, and other bits I can imitate the sound but won't be saying the right words.

As much as I liked Rammstein before I have become a little obsessed now. I fancy Till (even though he's old enough to be my dad). Songs keep getting stuck in my head, the most bothersome one being Ich tu dir weh. This song is part of the reason why LIFAD has had a limited release in Germany. It was placed on the "Index", a list of media not to be sold to minors, due to the sexual content of its lyrics. Whilst I can see their point to some extent, this is not the first Rammstein album with provocative lyrics and as far as I know none of the others are on the Index. Fortunately it is only the chorus that is stuck in my head (not that most people hearing me sing speak German)! If you're not easily shocked then head over to, a fantastic site that provides the lyrics and translations.

There were many videos on You Tube that I could have shared with you but I chose this one because it's the title track, and also because of it's superior quality. Enjoy!

Poem in progress

Influenced by the film Little Ashes, which is about when Dali met Lorca at university. Not sure if it is finished, or indeed if it is any good.


Silver, blue, black,
water, moon, skin.
Two fish without scales;
drops of milky light.
Leaping -
for joy, for freedom.
They will not dance for you
for you paint with blood.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

"Normal" service may be resumed

So I've gone back to work part time on a phased return. I am not better, just rested. I still don't have very much to say for myself, except that if you would like to see what I am doing in the knitting world then go here.