Thursday, February 24, 2011

Invitations are go!

At last! After two abortive attempts to get the invitations that the Prof designed printed at our local branch of Staples, which despite being a printers hasn't had a working printer for over a week, we gave up and the Prof went to a different branch where it was all done quickly and with minimum fuss. We know where to go next time we want wedding invitations printed.....

Plans in general are coming along well. I have a dress, though as yet it's too big. (Pass the chips). I don't have shoes yet as I can't seem to get along with the American website's online shopping cart. I may have to phone them. Still, at least I have a dress. The Young Philosopher doesn't have anything to wear yet, and nor does my Dad. Mum and Dad went to Bluewater the other day to find Dad something to wear for the wedding: when I asked Mum what they bought she said a copy of the TV Times and a banana. I am not quite sure how he is going to make an outfit out of those, but it could be interesting.

I am glad that Mum has made my head dress and bouquet, bearing in mind the
pineapple dream, so at least now I don't have to resort to carrying a pineapple. Not to mention it might knock one of my friends out if I tossed it.

I had another dream in which hardly anyone turned up because we had forgotten to send the invitations. The Prof is in charge of posting them today, I do hope he remembers.
attempts to get the invitations that Philip designed printed at our local branch of Staples, which despite being a printers hasn't

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On My Mind

Image from here

The history of my family. London. Woods. Real coffee, with cream. Books and bookshops. The scent of sweet peas. Writing. Ancient things. Home. Elephants, woolly mammoths and tortoises. Ruins. White picket fences. The countryside. Stationery. Curved, smooth things.

Inspired by Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, and Jennifer McGuigan.

Making it Simple: 2

I am still working on my simplifying project.

We have sold quite a number of our books on Amazon. So far we have made £105, less the postage charges, which were probably about £30. As we don't really notice the postage costs, coming as they do in small amounts here and there, we decided to put the full £105 away in our 'weekend away fund'. After the wedding, I plan to sell some stuff on ebay and do a boot sale or two, and then my lovely Prof and I will be well on our way to a few days away together later in the year.

About forty of my books, mainly novels, were already being sold on Amazon for £0.01. I didn't think it was worth selling them at that price, so I listed them as a job lot on our local Freegle and a very grateful lady came and picked them up. She said they would keep her and her partner busy for months! Although I didn't earn any money from this, I was very pleased to be able to pass the books on to someone else who would enjoy them, and make some room on my bookshelves at the same time.

We had an email today from the charity shop we donated lots of our unwanted stuff to in January - our donations raised £139.43 for the Richard House Children's Hospice. I am so pleased that we were able to help the hospice and raise so much!

I have had to seriously declutter my emails twice this year, and am now trying to keep both my accounts up to day and clutter free. It's working so far...

I have spent hours this week devising a financial plan for the Prof and I. We have always muddled along okay, but this is more organised and involves much piggybanking. It should make things much easier to keep track of.

Considering all the wedding stuffs going on around here, I am really pleased with what I have managed to achieve.

During March I am planning to declutter my clothes and shoes, and persuade the Prof and the Young Philosopher to do the same. The YP's room also needs major reorganisation, and I have promised to help. After that I don't expect I will get much done until May, when we are back from our honeymoon (yay! honeymoon!).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend Walk: The River Thames foreshore

Today we were up bright and early and in Vauxhall by 8.45am, to meet up with the archaeologists and a large crowd of other anoraked and welly-booted folk, and take a long walk along the Thames foreshore. The river Effra joins the Thames in this area, in a very small way, as now the Effra mostly flows underground, having being diverted into Bazalgette's sewer system. This is what passes for the river Effra these days.

We were there to see some Anglo Saxon, Bronze Age and Mesolithic remains, as revealed by the very low tide. I was expecting to stand on the foreshore being lectured for two hours, but far from it! After a few introductory remarks, and advice to try not to sink in the mud, reminders that the number for the emergency services is 999 and that the coastguard would soon rescue us if there was a problem(!), we were off. We walked along the foreshore from the MI6 building almost to Battersea power station, there to see this Anglo Saxon fishing trap. Wattles would have been placed between the posts to corral fish as they were brought in by the tide, then they would have been caught in nets.

It was quite hard going walking over the pebbles and rocks, not to mention the mud. I went in to my ankles more than once. Thank goodness for welly boots. The Prof, however, discovered his rigger boots are not waterproof!

We also saw these Bronze Age piles, which were probably part of some kind of bridge, possibly to an island in the river. One of the archaelogists suggested that perhaps the Bronze Age people buried their dead there, or made offerings of food and drink to the river. It was very likely a special place to them because of the joining of the two rivers.

The pile on the right is a replacement put there by Time Team, after the original was taken for dating. When it was put there a few years ago, it was level with the ground, which shows how much the foreshore is eroding over time.

We then saw some Mesolithic remains, from in the region of 6000 years ago! At this time this area would have been dry land, so they are probably the remains of a dwelling - and Mesolithic people were supposed to be nomadic, so this is interesting in itself.

While we were there the archaeologists noticed some new piles that they had not seen before as they had previously been underwater, and got rather excited! It was really interesting to be there as new discoveries were made. Also an antler was found, and my own Prof found a sheep's tooth, which someone from the Museum of London was interested enough in to take back with her.

A couple of people found small tools made from knapped flint. I found a couple of pieces that were probably waste flint from the knapping process - but I am still excited to know that means someone was working with my little piece of flint thousand of years ago. I also found a piece of flint that was burned red on one side from being in a fire, probably during the Bronze Age.

I thoroughly enjoyed the morning's activities, and will be watching to see what else is uncovered in the future as the Thames recedes.

Here are some other photographs I took while we were walking along the by the river.

I have always wanted to go on the Duck Tour! They are amphibious landing craft from World War II and take passengers on a whistle stop tour of London, then on to the Thames! Seems like good fun to me, maybe this will be the year I finally do it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

My weekend in pictures

The Prof's outfit is nearly finished. He will be having a new cloak, and a friend is making a tablet weave trim for his tunic, but the basics are done, courtesy of Mum. She also made a great job of my floral crown. it was much easier than we thought - cost a tenner and took an hour to make.

The Young Philosopher is home for a few days. I have really missed him. Sometimes I almost wish I had persuaded him to go to a London university so I could keep him at home. On Saturday evening we took him to see our Auntie.

The best thing for a Sunday morning: book shopping, coffee and some chocolate shortbread in Costa, and the Telegraph crossword.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

My Ideal Home...

Image from here

My ideal house would be somewhere nearer to the countryside than my present home. There would be country views from the windows - trees, yes definitely trees. Can I be really specific? A huge ancient tree, one of those that just inspires awe in me when I think of the events that must have happened in it's lifetime. Birdsong, too. That's a must - birds and other wildlife. Here in town we get pigeons, some sparrows and just two or three times I have seen a bluetit, but they're rare. I have never seen a squirrel in my garden, though mangy looking urban foxes are a daily sight in the street outside. Since my neighbour moved in with her two cats, the birds don't often feed at my birdtable. I miss them. From my usual seat on the sofa I can see through my kitchen and into the garden and I used to often sit here and watch the sparrows. We do have swallows/house-martins/swifts flying over at a distance, but of course they eat on the wing, so I never get a good look at them. One day I will actually have my binoculars at hand when they go over and I will find out which they are.

When I say I want to live in the country, that's only partially accurate. I do so love the countryside, it's true, and there is something about greenness and trees that speaks to my soul, but I know myself well enough to realise how quickly I get fed up without a range of options of things to do, and frequent buses or trains to take me where I want to be quickly. When on holiday, I find it difficult to adjust to buses that run four times a day, or only one fish and chip shop in a fifteen mile radius. I am used to be being able to get almost anything I need at any hour of the day or night, and to be able to get anywhere quickly and efficiently, without a car. I have lived on the outskirts of London my whole life, and though I have never liked the area in which I live, as I get older I realise how much I depend on London being so near. Even if I don't go in to town all that often, there is comfort in knowing there is so much there that one COULD be doing, if only one wanted to. Does that make sense?

I would love a garden, a real cottage garden with lavender, sweet peas, rambling roses and a white picket fence. Here we have a small concrete yard, overlooked on all sides. There is a green garden seat that belonged to my dear departed Auntie, which reminds me of her every time I sit there reading under the tree (read: big weed that next door doesn't cut down, but not unattractive). Sometimes we eat outside at the mosaic table. In the summer we have flowers in pots and gorgeous home grown tomatoes. I grow sweet peas and lavender in our little front garden, but there's not room for much.

We have two bedrooms upstairs, ours and one for the Young Philosopher, rarely used these days while he is at University. The only other room upstairs is the toilet, separate from the bathroom, which is downstairs off the kitchen. Did I mention it was a strange little house? In addition to the bathroom, downstairs there is a small living room, and an even smaller kitchen and there you have it, home.

Sometimes, when I am struggling to find somewhere to stand a clotheshorse full of washing, or bemoaning the fact that neither the kitchen nor the living room have room for a dining table unless it is one that folds down and has the chairs packed away inside it, I long for a laundry room, or a dining room. When I look at the five bookcases housing hundreds and hundreds of books, or we're sitting on the sofa with our laptops and cables trailing over and between us, I wish we had a library, or a study.

I started out writing about my ideal home and along the way I have been thinking about all the things I like about where we live now. I am also reminded that always, when the Prof and I are out driving, it is he who likes the big country piles with lots of rooms, far beyond our means. I fall in love with tiny little cottages and he invariably protests 'but that's smaller even than what we have!'.

Lately I am thinking that if these are the houses I am drawn to, then what is so wrong with the one I have? I guess for now anyway, I will just carry on trying to live my little country life in town.