Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"My manager has gone off with your manager...

...do you know where they are?"

The pub I work in is down a little alley way and opposite a cocktail bar (it's almost as difficult to find as The Park of Mumbles - although it isn't as nice). Last Friday I had to go over across the few cobble stones and enquire in the bar after our respective managers who had gone off for a quick drink. The emergency was that we needed someone to take two platters of food to the dress circle of the theatre around the corner. It all worked out in the end and was a bit of a laugh... Though not knowing the SO BAR's manager's name didn't make it any easier, so I've found that out should the situation arise again!

I met a huge boa constrictor called Lola on Saturday when I was volunteering at the London Wetland Centre. Lola is 7 yrs old and these snakes can live up to 60 years!! She was absolutely mesmerising and I almost forgot about the pond dip I was helping with while I was watching Lola curl around Emma's body. Once I realised what time it was I rushed off guiltily and didn't have time to stroke Lola. Impressive creature that snake.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Restaurant

After a short hiatus the restaurant in our flat was back in action as we tried to fit 10 people around a table in our living room. I was very impressed that we managed to fit everyone around an extended table, even if that meant taking the legs off two tables to get them to fit through the doorway! There was food and drink aplenty proving that you don't need matching cutlery and plates to entertain in Richmond... It's good to be back in action. And use up a slight backlog of vegetables from our organic box!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Community of St Mary the Virgin

Yesterday morning three of us headed off to Wantage to go and visit this convent (one of us to become an associate of CSMV). It is set in Oxfordshire in the beautiful countryside and the buildings themselves were surrounded by lovely greenery and flowers, which had an immediate effect of creating a peaceful atmosphere. Even the traffic on the otherside of the hedge seemed miles away, perhaps because it seemed to belong to an entirely different era than the one we were entering...

Sisters in full habits welcomed us and we also met the two other people becoming associates and their guests. I made a lot of Iona connections both among the guests and the Sisters, which is great because it is always lovely to reminisce about that fair isle. We joined in for sext and then ate a silent lunch with everyone. It is interesting to eat a meal without saying a word although systems have obviously developed for the practical side of things. Most Sisters brought along some reading material and us guests were provided with copies of the National Geographic magazine to read while you waited for everyone to finish. After lunch we all gathered for a cuppa and got a chance to chat with everyone, and before we left to head back to London we took a quick tour and went to see one of the Sister's studio (she is a fabulous sculptor) and admired pieces of her work. There were several gorgeous pieces of art work around the convent and several sculptures created by a previous Mother of the community, including 15 fabulous woodcarvings in a chapel about the stations of the cross. She took 30 years to make them all and by the last one she was almost completely blind (and I'm not sure if she quite managed to finish it before she died). The panels are full of amazing and intricate details and very, very beautiful.

I connected almost instantaneously with the silence of the place, it felt like a profound presence in all that was going on. Even such a brief visit managed to connect to something deeper and there is, for me, a great appeal to a life so meaningfully and consciously led. I'm not romanticizing the life, as I doubt I'm suitable for this sort of community living, but there is no denying there was something special at the convent.

Monday, May 14, 2007


And so the thing that is Eurovision has come and gone again. One of my co-workers in the pub is the biggest fan I've met yet, and so I've been through a huge build up of excitment and then yesterday hours of deconstruction of the event! I went to a Eurovision party - which is the only bearable way to watch it in my opinion. This year was less exciting in Finnish terms as I don't think Hanna Pakarinen was quite as riveting as Lordi last year. And what where all those little snippets about??? Supposedly about Finland I didn't recognise much! (Although I have been on the rollercoaster they showed in one of the snippets, much to the surprise of Lotte as I adamantly refused to get onto anything remotely like that on a recent trip to Alton Towers...)

Most of the people I've heard talking about the event are grumpy about the rise of the eastern European countries in the song contest. If I had a pound for every time there was a complaint about them voting for each other rather than on the merits of the song (what merit??) I'd be a rich woman. I tried to suggest that British people should emigrate more when folk were muttering about the British vote going to Poland due to all the Polish people living and working here, but I don't think I was taken very seriously. There were several unfortunate sentiments on display over this contest, and I can't help but think that a shift away from western-europe-centric viewpoint is actually beginning to reflect something of reality. Europe is more than Britain and I wish people could realise this.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Star Wars Day!

I'm currently reading "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" by Milan Kundera and it has some very interesting things to say about the sheer volume of writing that goes on. Written back in 1978 he seems to foreshadow blogging quite nicely... Kundera does distinguish in his book between the desire to write for oneself or close relations and the desire to write for the public of unknown readers, graphomania being a description of the latter. Writing about blogging seems rather fashionable at the moment and "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" definately brought some of that debate back into my mind.

"Graphomania (a mania for writing books) inevitably takes on epidemic proportions when a society develops to the point of creating three basic conditions:
(1) an elevated level of general well-being, which allows people to devote themselves to useless activities;
(2) a high degree of social atomization and, as a consequence, a general isolation of individuals;
(3) the absence of dramatic social changes in the nation's internal life.
...The invention of printing formerly enabled people to understand one another. In the era of universal graphomania, the writing of books has an opposite meaning: everyone surrounded by his own words as by a wall of mirrors, which allows no voice to filter through from the outside."

At any rate I'm really enjoying the book about memories, love, and laughter.

Oh yes, and May the 4th be with you!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

iPod Yoga

I’ve always been fascinated but slightly intimidated by yoga and have yet to work up the courage to go to a “proper” lesson. I know of no good reason for my irrational fear of the situation, unless it is the lithe people that populate festivals and get up at 6 am for an hour long session after going to bed at 4 am and can bend and twist into forms I never knew humans could do and generally look as fit and healthy and as cool as anything. I am not one of those people.

Facing up to ones fears is generally touted as good practice, at least in all the ordinary-person-overcomes-adversity-to-save-the-hampster/world/girlfriend films, so trying out some yoga moves by myself seemed like a good idea and I downloaded a yoga podcast and set to it. One problem that quickly became apparent was the complexity of trying to look at the little monitor to see what the instructor was doing, making sure the earpieces didn’t come out so I could listen to the instructions, and actually carrying out the movement all at the same time. I’m glad nobody saw me do this! Nevertheless it was quite fun, and who knows, maybe one day I will venture into a class. In the meantime I’ll have to figure out a way of doing iPod yoga with leads and all…

The End.

Well that particular story ended with me not able to get through on the phone to anyone but deciding to turn up anyhow – and all was fine. Once I had got to the Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre that is.

I found myself in the small village of Sutton Courtney with no clue where to go next and a lot of village people who had no idea where the Centre was. In the end I just went into a local primary school to ask for directions as I figured they would have visited the place. I was right and got to the training on time too, which was a miracle in its own right. It is a great centre even if the view is dominated by the large chimney stacks of the nearby power station, and I enjoyed making a kite out of a plastic bag. This is owned by the same guys, The Wildlife Trust, that owns the Centre of the Earth in Birmingham I went to not that long ago and they are both cool places to visit.