Cathy's favourite film is The Wizard of Oz, and she does seem a long way from her English home now she has a new one in Alberta, Canada - but there's still no-one like her.
* SONG OF THE DAY: Elvis Costello - Red Shoes *
Email: busstopgirl (at) googlemail (dot) com
Cathy's favourite film is The Wizard of Oz, and she does seem a long way from her English home now she has a new one in Alberta, Canada - but there's still no-one like her.
* SONG OF THE DAY: Elvis Costello - Red Shoes *
This is a gift for Sean and Aileen on their first anniversary. Aileen loves sheep.
When she was getting married, Aileen sent me a swatch of the fabric of her dress, so I could match it with some satin flowers I was making for her (to be fashioned into a beautiful hairslide - see below - by our friend Cathy). I still had this little piece of material a year later, so I used it to back a heart cut-out on the reverse of this loveheart (but I seem to have forgotten to take a pic of this view before I put it in the post!).
* SONG OF THE DAY: The Housemartins - Sheep *
Sarah and Tim love travelling round Switzerland, so for Sarah's 30th birthday I thought I'd try and recreate a Swiss landscape for her in a diorama, with some Swiss-style road signs for her name and age. She loves it - hooray! (Or yodelay-hee-hoo!
* SONG OF THE DAY: Kate Bush - King of the Mountain *
Roxie (7): Where does the Queen live? I want to send her a letter.
Me (37): Well, if you put 'Buckingham Palace, London', I'm sure she'll get it. What do you want to ask her?
Roxie: I don't know. I just want to be on the news.
* SONG OF THE DAY: The Divine Comedy - The Booklovers *
Cathy and Tim moved to their new home in Canada last October while Cathy was pregnant, and they now have a baby boy, Harry. I made this for him. Harry and his mum are travelling to England this weekend so I hope to meet him soon!
* SONG OF THE DAY: Deniece Williams - Let's Hear It For The Boy *
I've posted before about the beautiful Cinderella doll my auntie Sue made me when I was a kid, and said I wanted to do the same for my friends' kids (honorary nieces). Well, I've done it! The pattern I used is from Jean Greenhowe's Christmas Special.
They took quite a while - not so much the knitting as the making-up - but at last they're finished and have gone off to live in Lewes with Roxanne (6) and Isabel (8). The girls loved their lookalike dolls, and made them a palace from dining chairs, then put them to bed under the wrapping paper they came in. Roxie even sidled up to me later with a winning smile and said, "You know, you could knit me a prince!" When her sister pointed out that my knitting bag didn't contain any 'hair' coloured yarn, she added, "It's OK, he can be bald!"
Images (c) Kristen Bailey 2011
* SONG OF THE DAY: Langhorne Slim - Cinderella *
* SONG OF THE DAY: Belle & Sebastian - Wrapped Up In Books *
This diorama was based on three of my sister's favourite pop songs. 'Walk On' is by U2 - she has these words tattooed on her ankle! 'Learn To Fly' is by Foo Fighters and she loves the video especially (any excuse for Dave Grohl and chums to dress up!). And that little bird sitting on the fence is a reference to 'Blackbird', her favourite Beatles song.
* SONG OF THE DAY: Juliana Hatfield - My Sister *
During a conversation about the miracle of birth with the offspring of Joe Mattinson and Rachel Smith, I mentioned that when I was born, the doctors had to cut into my mummy's tummy to take me out:
Isabel (8): 'That's disgusting!'
Roxanne (5): 'Is she dead then?'
* SONG OF THE DAY: Ohio Express - Yummy Yummy Yummy I've Got Love In My Tummy *
Mum's really interested in Queen Victoria, so for her birthday I knitted her this doll of old Victoria in her mourning clothes. Once again I based the doll on Jean Greenhowe's Little Gift Dolls pattern, using the skirt from the Christmas Tree Fairy and the cuffs from Miss Valentine. The widow's cap I made using the veil pattern from the Summer Mouse in the Knitted Animals booklet.
I made Victoria necklaces of pearls and crystals, and pearl earrings, and a mourning brooch with Albert's cameo on it. The crown was knitted in silver crochet thread, using Jean Greenhowe's 'picot hem' pattern, and I sewed on crystal beads. Does her face look amused?
All images in this post (c) Kristen Bailey 2009
* SONG OF THE DAY: The Divine Comedy - Victoria Falls *
This (rather bald) hedgehog pincushion was made by me at primary school as a Mother's Day pressie. I can vivdly remember making it. My teacher had a large shallow box full of brightly-coloured embroidery silks, which I found so exciting that I got told off for sorting them into colour ranges when I should have been sewing! We stuffed our hedgehogs with chopped-up old tights.
Some of our dinner ladies had stayed on after lunch to help supervise the sewing. Take a look at the blanket stitch - can you guess which bit was done by a dinner lady and which was done by a five-year old?
We were walking to Hove Library when Dad (hairy everywhere except his head) let out a cry of distress at this poster in the window of the hairdressers next door!
* SONG OF THE DAY: Super Furry Animals - Ice Hockey Hair *
This is my Nanna's medal from the Royal Life Saving Society, which she was awarded in 1937 when she was 16. (The Latin motto reads 'Quemcunque Miserum Videris Hominem Scias', which means, 'Whomsoever you see in distress, recognize in him a fellow man.') My lovely step-nanna found it in a drawer recently and gave it to Mum, and I framed it so she can have it on her dressing table. She says it's nice to have something her mum worked really hard for.
Mum told me that when Nanna left school aged 14, she went to work at the big Reckitts factory in Hull, and that she belonged to the staff swimming club. I went online to see if I could find out more about Reckitts in the 1930s, and found an eBay listing for a 1937 edition of Reckitts' staff magazine - a special issue commemorating the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
The listing mentioned a photo of the swimming club, who had done a display for the Queen! I bid and bid but didn't win it - and in a 'who dares, wins' moment I contacted the vendor and asked if he would email me a scan of that page of the magazine before sending it off to the buyer...
...and he did!
When I got it I thought I recognised Nanna, but I wanted Mum to pick her out too, so I knew it wasn't just wishful thinking... and she did! We compared it with how she looked in her wedding photo four years later, and there she is, in the front row, last on the right. Isn't the internet marvellous?!
It's made in white fleece - first a plain cushion, firmly stuffed, then an outer layer with a plain back and an appliqued front, which I blanket-stitched together over the base. Comfy kawaii.
* SONG OF THE DAY: Tom Jones - What's New, Pussycat? *
Finding this Charles and Diana commemorative plate in a charity shop reminded me of the street party we had to celebrate their wedding. The Royal Wedding - everyone was so excited! We all had to wear red, white and blue to the party. I was 6, and absolutely loved the sailor dress Mum bought me. We were all given Charles and Di notebooks and pencils (see below) and special Charles and Di coins.
I've hung the plate on the wall so that when I'm having a 'being single sucks' kind of day I can look at it and remind myself that being married isn't always all it's cracked up to be ;)
* SONG OF THE DAY: Adam and The Ants - Prince Charming *
All images (c) Roy and Kristen Bailey 1981 and 2009
Sarah (here giving you her 'button eyes'), Mister Sarah and I went to an advance screening of Coraline on Saturday, and it was fab - colourful and creepy and full of amazing handmade details, including Althea Crome's unbelievably tiny knitting (see below).
We hadn't realised it was in 3D - we got given the glasses on the way in - and it made the film even more of an adventure. There's a bit in the opening sequence where a needle passes through a piece of fabric and comes straight out of the screen at you - we actually ducked! It's quite scary in parts too - a couple of smaller kids were taken out by their parents when the Other Mother started turning nasty.
For all things Coraline, check out the official Coraline website, and fanblog Evil Buttons. Book-wise, there's a Coraline: A Visual Companion, all about the production of the movie, and of course the original novel and graphic novel.
* SONG OF THE DAY: Johnny Tillotson - Poetry In Motion *
Empire: Interviews Coraline author Neil Gaiman
Empire: Interviews Coraline director Henry Selick
Movies.Ie: Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French talk about their voice work on Coraline
Village Voice: Stephin Merritt and David Greenspan Conjure an Unusual Tuner for Coraline
Signal failure at Tower Hill (c) Slinkachu
I'm a difficult person to buy for and don't often get birthday presents which weren't 'on the list', but the lovely Sarah hit the jackspot with Little People in the City: The Street Art of Slinkachu.
Slinkachu sets up street scenes with those 1:144 scale figures usually found in model railways, playing with the differences in scale between their world and ours. The book has two views of the same scene - the close-up of the miniature goings-on, next to a wide view showing passers-by and traffic speeding past completely oblivious to the tiny drama happening in a crack in the pavement!
Follow Slinkachu's adventures on the Little People blog.
* SONG OF THE DAY: Dave Grohl - Tiny Dancer *
Mum loves anything with sheep on, so for Mother's Day I bought Rob Ives' book Paper Automata: Four Working Models to Cut Out and Glue Together and made her this Hopping Sheep model, which is now living on her dressing table.
It took several hours to make, and you have to pay close attention to the instructions when cutting, scoring and gluing (I used double-sided tape and a glue stick rather than runny glue), but it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and I'll definitely being making more.
Rob's new book Paper Engineering and Pop-ups for Dummies is just out and looks fab. Once I've made up a few more kits it'd be great to learn to design my own automata!
His Flying Pig website offers some kits as free downloads, and has loads more for sale, as well as a whole section explaining the basics of mechanisms and movement and tools and techniques. Rob also has a blog where he shares his workshop notes.
My mum's given me this photo of a pint-sized me sat on the dining room carpet having a lovely time with a sieve, a colander and some clothes pegs. In the background you can see my metal spinning top and my (empty) brick trolley.
Mum says I used to help myself to her pots and pans from the lower cupboards. She used those pegs, with my teeth marks on, for twenty years!
Clearly this photo was taken by a doting parent keen to record for posterity the occasion of their seven-year old going to the church's Christmas fancy dress party. A touching gesture, Dad, but did you and Mum never stop to consider the damage done to my young retinas by your questionable taste in wallcoverings?
|1 1/2 cups S.R. flour - 8oz||1 TBLs vinegar|
|1 cup sugar - 6oz||1/2 tsp bi-carb|
|2 TBLs cocoa||Cup hot water|
|5oz melted marg||1 egg (optional)|
"Mix dry ingredients. Add marg, vinegar, beaten egg and hot water. Runny batter consistency. Bake Mark 4 or 375 for 45 mins."
This recipe has been in the family for years - apparently 'Wacky Cake' was invented during the Depression when milk and eggs were scarce. I'm guessing Nanna used it during WW2 rationing.
The thing is, it doesn't taste like anything's been scrimped on. The vinegar and bicarb make the batter bubble and rise, resulting in a moist. gooey chocolate sponge which you can't just have one slice of...
* SONG OF THE DAY: Shanks & Bigfoot - Sweet like Chocolate *
This shocking pink feather caught my eye as I dashed down North Street this afternoon. An escapee from a reveller's feather boa, it instantly took me back my cousin Lisa's hen night in 2003.
That night we giggled our way through Soho wearing shocking pink feather boas (with pastel pink for the bride), and in the morning I discovered my neck had been dyed bright pink!
* SONG OF THE DAY: Aerosmith - Pink *
Going through an old scrapbook Mum had made of our drawings, I found this piece of early fashion journalism, from about 1982:
"mummy and daddy went to the Summer Ball. They were wearing nice clothes. mummy had a blue and silver dress. And daddy had a Jacket. And it was blue. And yellow. Heather came to look after us. daddy had some trousers. They were blue."
I distinctly remember going into Trowbridge with Mum to buy that dress - she ended up choosing the blue over a chocolate brown one. And here she is in it on the night, with Dad in his RAF sergeant's dress uniform.
While staying with Mum and Dad last week I ended up going through old photo albums and have picked a few favourites I want to share.
Here I am aged three and a half, 'helping' my dad decorate the spare room for the arrival of the new baby (The Blonde). I'm not sure what I'm wearing on my head but I suspect it's one of Dad's hankies, which have been a constant comfort to me during times of crisis, when he has offered them up to be covered in tears/snot/mascara. (Do men of my generation even carry hankies?)
I am wearing my Paddington apron. I'm surprised Mum has allowed me near wet paint, although I see she has arranged for me to be put on the less messy 'scraping off old wallpaper' detail. I loved Paddington. I was astonished to learn that there was a railway station in London named after him. Pleased for him, though...
'Paddington Bear - Please take care of this bear', via YouTube
I still love Paddington (in his 1970s stop-motion incarnation, not the cartoon version). I got a Paddington calendar for Christmas, and I'm so pleased to see him back on telly, doing the Marmite ads (see how they were made below).
And of course there are all the old episodes on YouTube - just one five-minute application can act as a mild anti-depressant. Just hearing that theme tune and hearing Michael Hordern's gentle narration makes me feel all warm inside :)
The Making of Paddington Bear's Marmite Advert, via YouTube
The other day The Blonde got herself an upgrade and,as has become traditional, gave me her old handset. So I put aside my nearly-dead Nokia 6610 and stepped into the brave new(ish) world of the Motorola SLVR. But before I did, I had to preserve for posterity a number of special text messages I had saved.
There was the touching message a friend sent me just before I went on a blind date (lovely bloke, no chemistry):
The one which arrived on my 30th birthday, from the friend who'd been too pregnant to come to my birthday do the night before...
...and this gem, from a German friend (who had taken her boyfriend back to Bavaria to make an honest man of him) whose first experience of England was... can you guess?... Sheffield!
The other day, my cousin Lisa and I were tallking about our favourite childhood presents. I was saying how brilliant her mum, my Auntie Sue, was at choosing gifts - a Crayola Crayon Caddy (64 different colours!), a Fashion Wheel, and later, my first proper sketchbook and a tin of Derwent drawing pencils. She could see that art was my passion and did what she could to encourage me.
This is Cinderella. Sue made her for me when I was about six. Lisa had one too. Cinderella looks sad now, but if you turn her upside-down...
...she CAN go to the ball!
There is so much detailed work here. She has a beautiful ballgown of pink and white lace over pink crepe, a choker of flower beads and an elaborate plaited coiffure of white yarn. Can you imagine how exciting and glamourous she was for a six-year old girl in sensible clothes and a 'boy's' haircut?
I will always keep her. I will always appreciate the love and care which went into making her, and I hope that the things I make for my friends' kids will make them feel as special. I hope one day I'll have the time to knit Jean Greenhowe's Cinderella doll for one of them.
* SONG OF THE DAY: Adam Ant - Prince Charming *
Let me introduce to Sergeant Bailey of the Royal Air Force - aka Dad. I knitted him for Dad's Christmas present using Jean Greenhowe's Little Gift Doll pattern as a starting point, then poring at old photos and Googling for info about RAF badges.
Dad went into the RAF as a teenager, and served for 22 years. He left when I was eight years' old, and I still remember him going off for his shift in his scratchy blue jumper with his sergeant's stripes buttoned onto the shoulders.
I've knitted him in his dress uniform, which he got married in and wore for posh 'mess' dinners. I embroidered him a set of chevrons (indicating rank) for his sleeves, and sewed on a tiny printed and laminated cap badge, and another showing his 'trade' badge for Signals, a fist grasping bolts of lightning.
Dad loved it. He was speechless at first - usually a good sign! Then he took his Mini-Me off to church for the show-and-tell at the Christmas service!
* SONG OF THE DAY: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Aeroplane *
I made this little fella for The Blonde's Christmas present. As I have noted before, she's a little penguin crazy. She's also into Hello Kitty, and had spotted that HK sequin in a mixed bag I bought from CrinolineStash on Etsy. She'd been trying to get me to give to her ever since!
(S)he's another take on Jean Greenhowe's Christmas Penguin, with earmuffs knitted from the snowman in Little Gift Dolls. I could do with earmuffs meself, it's been perishing in this flat for days now. Have taken to wearing a beret indoors. If only I could wear my electric blanket all day...
Captain Jack Sparrow knitted doll (c) Kristen Bailey, 2008
It was The Blonde's 30th birthday, so I thought I'd better whip up (that's 'whip' with the emphasis on the 'h', Family Guy fans) something special. So here he is - a Captain Jack Sparrow doll, based on Jean Greenhowe's 'Pirate' doll pattern, from her Storybook Dolls booklet.
I ran out of time to knit a bandana, waistcoat and sash, so they're made of remnants from my fabric stash. His hair was done by French knitting (on a Clover Wonder Knitter), and then beads were sewn in. Yarrrr!!!!!!!
* SONG OF THE DAY: Mary Chapin Carpenter - The End Of My Pirate Days *
I added a bandana in 'skull and crossbones' fabric, a gold hoop earring and a cutlass and eyepatch stitched from felt. Click on the pic for a closer look. Yaaaarrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!
Here, finally, is the special card/bookform I made my cousin for her 30th birthday. Yes, finished way behind schedule - she turned 30 in June - but leave me alone, I'm not well!
Lisa's my cousin, but she's also been a close friend. We were penpals from the ages of 12 and 10 - you know, back when folk used to write on paper, with a pen - and worked through a lot of teenage (and twenties!) angst together. Our correspondance went on for almost fifteen years, and is now meticulously archived in a series of shoeboxes kept on the tops of wardrobes in Galway City and Brighton.
Over the years she's acquired a husband, a house and a daughter, which I still can't quite get my head around... they grow up so fast, don't they? She's also a very busy wedding photographer, which I'm dead proud of.
These days we don't write letters to each other, just the occasional email or text. Sometimes one of us rings the other to note how crap we are at keeping in touch. But mainly we keep up with each other's news via my mum and her dad!
Dearest Lill, we are crap at keeping in touch...
Yesterday I stood on Hove lawns with my little sister's camera and a bunch of her mates, all of us frantically taking photos and trying not to wet ourselves as she jumped from a 160ft crane with an elastic rope tied to her ankles (throwing horns as she fell).
The Blonde has long expressed a desire to some day do a bungee jump, and when she heard she could do one for charity right here in Brighton 'n' Hove... well, she jumped (sorry) at the chance. She's raised over £300 so far and donations are still very welcome!
* SONG OF THE DAY: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Into The Great Wide Open *
A great day out today has really lifted my spirits. Good company, a change of scene, some culture, some shopping and some good food have done me the world of good.
Sarah, the Blonde and I went up to the Big Smoke to see the Kylie show at the V&A. I'd already seen it but it's free and they wanted to go so I didn't mind seeing it again at all. Lunch at the V&A wasn't cheap but at least the £7 sarnie the Blonde and I bought to share for economy reasons turned out to be huge and delicious.
Then we snuggled on a Surrealist sofa in the foyer...
Then off to Tottenham Court Road to lose myself in the wonders of Paperchase, and on to Oxford Street Topshop so Blonde could enlarge her sock collection and drool at anything with skulls on. I picked up a couple of David Shrigley cards for my wall - this one cos I've always loved it and this one to make me smile in the face of necessary medication. And, one trip to Schuh later, the Blonde had happy feet.
We headed over to Wardour Street (having warned Sarah about the loos) for lovely Thai food, but stopped off first at Soho Square so I could see Kirsty MacColl's memorial bench - every other time I've looked for it the place has been too crowded, so it was lovely to find it and have my picture taken sitting on it.
After dinner there was an unplanned stop for a crepe before getting the bus back to Victoria, very very full and completely knackered... but happy.
Get Closer To Kylie with this snazzy little interactive on the Kylie section of the V&A Museum's website where you can examine some of her stage clothes in more detail. The Kylie exhibition opens next week.
I get to go to the press launch for work (yes - I'm so lucky, lucky lucky!) but it's bound to be a crush, and I've also booked to go again with the Blonde and Sarah at the end of March. This should be an altogether more civilised visit, as we plan to include Thai food in Soho (taking care in the loos) and sock shopping on Oxford Street in our schedule.
This is Pickwick, a dodo. She's a birthday pressie for Sarah, to whom I recently introduced the Thursday Next series of fantasy novels by Jasper Fforde.
Thursday is a literary detective who lives in a parallel world which is pretty similar to ours but with some notable exceptions. Books are so important to everyone that they are the subject of organised crime, fraud and extortion. Come Saturday night, there are city centre fights between opposing gangs - those who reckon Bacon wrote Shakespeare's plays, and those who credit Marlowe. It's 1985 but The Crimean War is still going, Wales is a socialist republic, croquet is the national sport and technology allows for extinct species to be cloned - hence Thursday's pet dodo, Pickwick.
I mentioned in a previous post that I'd heard about a book called The Eyre Affair, where characters jumped into the classic Jane Eyre (possibly my all-time favourite book) and messed about with the plot. I was intrigued and got hold of a copy - and absolutely loved it. It's incredibly funny, gripping and full of clever ideas, skewed logic and bad literary puns. The other books in the series - Lost In A Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots and Something Rotten - are all fantastic. Inside the BookWorld, characters from books amuse themselves however they like whilst not needed for the narrative (Marianne Dashwood has a fag break, Rochester shows Japanese tourists around Thornfield).
BookWorld is policed by Jurisfiction, whose many duties include catching PageRunners (characters who have got bored of their own book and run off to something more exciting) and running group anger management sessions for the cast of Wuthering Heights (faciliated by Jurisfiction operative Miss Havisham). Unpublished books languish in the Well of Lost Plots, constantly at risk of being broken up for Text.
Jasper Fforde's other novels, The Big Over Easy and his new release, The Fourth Bear (details here) are the first two in the Nursery Crime series. Those are still in my 'To Read' pile for when I've finished Something Rotten. A new Thursday Next book, The War of the Words, is due in July 2007.
Sarah (a librarian) and I met Jasper Fforde last night at his reading/signing for The Fourth Bear at Waterstones in Brighton and he's a Thoroughly Bluddy Nice Chap. S showed him her new dodo. I'd got it by mail order from the gift shop of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (and accessorised with it with a name tag) - and Jasper said that he'd got the idea for cloned dodos from visiting that same museum years ago. Curiouser and curiouser...
Jasper's endlessly amusing official website is: www.jasperfforde.com
Independent: The Fourth Bear By Jasper Fforde
Wikipedia: Jasper Fforde
Writers Write: A Conversation With Jasper Fforde
January Magazine: Interview: Jasper Fforde
The Zone: Interview: Jasper Fforde
BBC Wiltshire: Jasper Fforde's alternative Swindon
British Council (Poland, 7th October 2005): Interview - Jasper Fforde
The slim waist and thick glossy black hair are long gone (he's 63), but he's still a thoroughly bluddy nice bloke.
Found this in a charity shop on London Road. I bought it partly because I love the pattern but mainly because it's the bedding my nanna had in her bedroom. She died twenty years ago, and seeing this again brought back loads of memories.
24th May 2009, edited to add:
In a batch of old magazines I picked up in a charity shop was a copy of Women's Weekly from September 1975, with this advert for Nanna's bedding!
Image (c) IPC Media 1975
My auntie Diane died on 18 May. I've already mentioned this wonderful lady, who (with my uncle) kept homesickness and poor nutrition at bay while I studied and worked in Manchester, and lavished love and care on me when I needed it most - something I'll always remember with gratitude.
Her death was a shock. She was seriously ill but not supposed to be in any immediate danger - we know now that things were much further advanced than anyone had realised. I'm so thankful I got up to see her in March. I really didn't think it would be the last time I saw her.
Diane made a great impact on my life. It feels like part of me has gone. I'm weary with sadness.
This little lady was a birthday pressie for the Blonde back in June but I've only just got round to posting her picture. She was my first attempt at making a doll from scratch, with no pattern, and didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped. There are a few strange lumps and bumps (that's the pot calling the kettle black...) and bless her, she's a got a distinctive face!
I stitched her features on before I'd stuffed her and didn't realise till then that I'd put her mouth far too low down. Still, you live and learn - and she's got quite a sweet (yet gormless) expression. And I love her shoes. She's made mainly from felt (including glittery felt and some great stuff with shimmery strands running through it) and has a pipecleaner halo.
Why an angel? Well, my little sis used to be (still is) into a band called Little Angels (one of whom is now the drummer in Feeder, who she's also a huge fan of) and ever since then she's liked stuff to do with angels.
Tomorrow I'm heading up to Manchester, which I've not been back to in seven years. My dad's from Manchester and I was at uni there. I hadn't planned to spend much time with my dad's family - I didn't know them very well - but when I became desperately homesick, my auntie and uncle swung into action.
They'd come and pick me up any time I was feeling rotten, and take me to theirs and feed me, do my washing, let me use their phone, lend me stuff for my house - in short, they were surrogate parents to me while my own parents were 250 miles (and seven hours on a coach) away.
When I graduated, I went home, but after a year of mindnumbing tedium and bad jobs, I decided I'd take a chance on a life in Manchester... and ended up living with my aunt and uncle for nine months, until it became apparent (ie I found myself working in a callcentre) that things were not meant to be and I packed my bags and moved back down South to Brighton.
I want to spend lots of time seeing my folks of course, but I hope I get the chance to take myself off on the bus so I can explore some of my old haunts. I'm quite a nostalgic sod anyway, and the time I spent in Salford / Manchester was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster... chronic homesickness, blossoming friendships, unrequited love, creative frustration (and occasionally creative abandon), and being toughened up and exhilarated by city life in equal measure.
I expect I'll well up as I walk through Salford Precinct, and I'll brush away a tear as I mourn the demise of Lewis's department store. I'll smile wistfully as I wander down Market Street, remembering my stint as the Girl on the Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk. My heart will race as I climb the stairs in Afflecks Palace, or descend into the basement of Fred Aldous.
And of course the one thing guaranteed to reduce me to a blubbing mess is the bear hug I expect to get from my uncle when he picks me up at Piccadilly Station. Sniff...
Guinness cake in baker's window, Galway City - more Galway pics
Am back from a few days in Galway. My cousin's lived out there for a few years now, tempted across the Irish Sea by a smiling Irishman with ginger curls, a big guitar collection and an even bigger heart. They got married and had a little strawberry blonde baby, who is now 10 months old.
Galway City is lovely, if you ignore the obligatory depressing shopping mall. Leave that behind and explore the dozens of little independent shops, cafes and pubs closer to the waterfront. That part of town reminds me of the Lanes in Brighton, so I felt right at home. Across the Bay from there you can see The Claddagh (where the rings originate).
Baby wasn't well, so while she's normally very happy and independent, she was very clingy and wouldn't let her mum out of her sight, so our gadding about was somewhat curtailed. Still had a good time - lunch in Moycullen on the way out to Connemara to gaze in awe at fog shrouded mountains and boulder-strewn moors - via Oughterard, where the week before my cousin's wedding my mum had to be rescued from a cafe loo...