Monday, January 29, 2007

Richmond, London

Where to start? I packed all my belongings into three bags and a suitcase and on Friday headed for London after a week or more of going round pubs, people's places, Red Cafe, and generally saying goodbye to all the wonderful and fabulous people I've met in Swansea. Bleary eyed (after a farewell party at the house) I stepped onto the 8:15am bus and headed towards Victoria bus station. Upon arrival I started to curse my inability to pack lighter and dragged my stuff across to Victoria station. But I took one look at the stairs leading down to the tube and bailed. I had to sens an SOS text to Lotte to come and rescue me - which she dutifully did. So not exactly the independent start to a life in London that I had imagined, but at least I'm here.

The weekend has been packed with meeting people, our mutual friends from Iona as well as some of Lotte's friends, trying to unpack and decorate my room, walk around Richmond and try to make some sense of this place and the fact that I'm here... We live a minute away from the river, ten seconds away from the bus station, a minute away from the food shop/High Street. Everything is right here!! The first thing I did on Saturday was to get a library card and I've already got an Oyster Card, so once I've bought myself a London A-Z I will feel a lot more at home.

Our flat is huge, white and magnolia (very much the non-offensive option isn't it) with a Lotte-influenced red-orange colour scheme, gorgeous, has a back garden that we share with the other two apartments in the house but it's huge, and we have a strong feeling of disbelief that now we are the adults in the house which seems unreal. The garden has seven bird feeders which are strung very high up in the trees. Prosaicly I did find a stepladder in the garden, which dashed my initial theory that there must be giants living in the upstairs flat, but we have regular visitors of green parakeets that amase and amuse me and liven up the garden.

I'm still trying to take everything in which means that everything is quite a mess in my head, experiences and sights floating around in no logical sense, but I'm hopeful it will settle down soon. I am so excited about this all!

This is a very euphoric, bouncy post. I'm sure in due course I'll come down to a sober judgement of the frivolty of the rich, how having been into five charity shops and seen their prices that I really am going to need a job soon or whatever, but for now I'm enjoying it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Twirling, whirling...

On Sunday we had a house-outing to see the whirling derishes of Damascus. They performed with the Al-Kindi Ensamble and the Sheikh Hamza Shakkur and performed Sufi liturgy of the Ummayad Mosque of Damascus. What an experience! I've never seen anything like that live before and they had the whole of the Taliesin art centre transfixed with the music and the whirling. The men in their dresses looked rather interesting until they started to twirl and then it all look increadibly natural - if you can say that about four men twirling around on a stage. (Actually, I kept expecting the one guy in particular to curtsey as he walked back to his chair.) The ensamble were playing classical Arab music from the 9th Century upwards and it was very intricate and fascinating to listen to and to watch.

I have no idea how the men managed to do so much whirling and not a) fall over or b) be sick. My head felt a bit giddy just watching them. And when we got home I felt inspired to do a few twirls but was dizzy within a few turns. It's great to see stuff like this in Swansea!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Lily's Friday Challenge

Lily, my intrepid friend, has just eaten eight pickled eggs for a bet. I watched her munch through these eggs, that a collegue of hers had pickled (probably for her), for over an hour. It was entertaining, although a bit painful too. She has a habit of laying on bets for all imaginable crazy things. And has so far come through most of them honourably. Google later provided a slight dampner on her glory by telling us that the record for eating pickled eggs (and yes, there is such a thing) is 19 pickled eggs in five minutes; but we are still proud of her even while we shake our heads in disbelief.

A previous food related bet saw her eating half a kilo of pickled onions, and she has agreed to attempt to eat two kilos of bean sprouts next Friday as long as they are not pickled.

That woman has a stomach of steel.
We have a new housemate, Jen, another waif rescued from a homeless fate, and a very welcomed addition to the house. And the dog is still with us as Ian's mother is stranded in Ireland - the ferries are not running in the force 10 gales it would seem... Dog and I have been exploring around the Tawe river and Kilvey Hill both which are new territory for me. I still find the view from top of the hill quite disconcerting as the Swansea that I can see from there is just so different and it is disorienting to not recognise the town I've lived in over the past four years.

I've found a big box and packed it and it's sitting ready to be sent to Finland. Unfortunately there still seems to be an awful lot of possession left in my room even after three trips to charity shops...

13th of July is when the next Harry Potter film comes out (HP and the Order of the Phoenix), and I've surprised myself by getting quite excited about that:) The room of Dolores Umbridge looks suitably revolting with the rows of kittens on plates hung on the wall! JK Rowling has announced the title of the next and last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so does that mean that we might get our hands on the book sometime this year? Is Severus Snape friend or foe...

Being on campus at Uni I've bought the paper for 25p. Bargain!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Chronicles of Swansea

The last update from my friend Abi is that she is (or was on New Year's Day) in Antigua lying on a beach watching hummingbirds. She left Swansea last October as a crew member on a small boat. Last I heard she was headed to Cape Verde with six Italians who might go over to Brazil if they felt like it - but now she's in the Caribbean... Well, she was aiming for Mexico so I guess it's in the right direction for her. She is such an inspiration, and I loved living with her for the six months that I did.

Harking back to that time I've also been nostalgic over our tea-habits. We had no teapot but there was always a saucepan full of tea on the table. It was usually green tea that Fred would drink by the pint glass, but also chai, nettles from the back garden, Greek mountain tea, and various other concoctions. At one point we did a inventory and between us we had 26 different types of tea, and we kept adding to it... Currently I am growing rather fond of the yellow teapot I have access to, but I will always keep a spot in my heart for brewing tea in a saucepan and drinking it out of jam jars - as all the mugs were being held hostage in Helen's room...

Ian's mother is going away for a while so we are going to be looking after her dog for the weekend. The rain has let up for a second too so I'm sure we'll get a few nice walks in. Our friend has been staying for the past two days but I think he's not too keen on the idea of a dog and is moving to another friend's place:) His loss, dogs are great!

My time is filled by trying to get rid of four years worth of stuff as a prelude to packing, filling out job applications and hunting for more, trying to figure out a cheap way of sending stuff back to Finland as there are several books I cannot bare the thought of parting with permanently, reading other books from the library, going to see people, and all the other wonderful things that go along with being gloriously unemployed.

I stopped off during lunch break in the AqWa office at Swansea uni as Lily and Shaun are both doing PhDs there. I found out from the disappointed Lily that the tickets to the Eurovision song contest in Finland are sold out already! I also heard a review on apples, heard several bad jokes, and we watched a (dead) whale on a beach being blown up as well as the first two instalments of R. Kelly's soap opera rap thing on YouTube. Entertaining, and R. Kelly may well be a minor genius, but they're never going to convince me that they do any work. And here I was thinking a PhD is a serious business!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Very short stories

Hemingway once wrote a very brief story in just six words: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." and is said to have called it his best work.

The magazine Wired invited a whole bunch of sci-fi writers to write their concise masterpieces of six words and I've happily happened to stumble across them. Here are a few:

Failed SAT. Lost scholarship. Invented rocket.
-William Shatner

Longed for him. Got him. Shit.
- Margaret Atwood

From torched skyscrapers, men grew wings.
- Gregory Maguire

Epitaph: Foolish humans, never escaped Earth.
- Vernor Vinge

We kissed. She melted. Mop please!
- James Patrick Kelly

The baby's blood type? Human, mostly.
- Orson Scott Card

Dinosaurs return. Want their oil back.
- David Brin

And I've got one of my own although I am not a writer of masterpieces or of anything else either:

Why expect anything to be simple?
- me

Monday, January 01, 2007

To quote a friend:

Wishing You 12 months of happiness, 52 weeks of fun, 365 days of laughter, 8760 hours of blessings, 525600 minutes of joy, 315536000 seconds of peace and justice! Happy New Year!