Category: Travelling

The Jan Recap… (by )

It's the end of January so what has gone on in the household snell-pym in the first month of 2017?

For a start there was the end of Christmas, I am still making the last few Advent vids ready for Christmas next year. We delivered presents though sadly not all the presents so we still have a back log!

Also mine and Mary's birthdays - mine involved a coffee, meal and shopping with Al before hospital stuff but we have only just done the proper celebration with kids and friends this weekend just gone which was also Mary's birthday. There was also posh vegan/Gluten Free brunch. Mary has so far played in the Waterstones cafe with her friend Lilly as her party is going to be in two weeks time. We've planned the party and got stuff ready for it.

This includes me working out how to make upcycled unicorn head bands and tail belts and little roll and pop up horses for the kids to make.

My mother was hospitalised so there was a trip to Essex and the adventures of getting home on the train which were unexpected.

DIY wise we have fixed several toys, remounted a coat rack which had pulled off the wall, dealt with networking and upgrading Jean's computer.

We got a telescope - an amazing thing which was a pool of Christmas money instead of presents for Al and Jean and part of mine and Mary's birthdays. We've seen binary stars so far. It was an undertaking to assemble and we now need to build a storage/transport box but it is assembled and being looked through though we've only had like three clear nights!

I've had three lots of testing at the hospital which took it's toll and norovirus hit the household. I missed a theatre meeting about performing a monologue and a poetry recording evening but I am being given second chances at those so that's all good.

I also missed my Krav self defence one off class and a poetry book launch which made me sad but on the other hand I was live streamed reading poetry at Food For Thought.

Talking of poetry I have also been typing up and editing poems from the BOOKCASE (Not shelf) of notebooks I have. The shear number is insane obv. not all of it is usable but a lot is so I have been organising Turquoise Monster and have even started submitting work again (as in 2 poems so far). I've written three poems this month predictable all about Trump. Of course I am doing my poetry writing challenges so I've drafted a good few more mostly not about Trump.

Jan has also been me gearing up for the poetry writing challenge that I host over at Wopo.

I have also designed, refined and created mini poetry scrolls, story scrolls, made bookwallets etc... for blank scrolls for others to write poetry on, personalised pencils and made write your own poem kits, made and put together 100 mini zine surprise pouches, story boarded two more zines, drafted half a short story, edited a couple of flash fictions, tried to write daily on this blog and started on the mammoth task of trying to sort out the Salaric Craft blog.

Also Storystorm - what used to be Picture Book Idea Month has rebranded and moved to Jan. so I have been idea generating and expanding on those ideas for kids books.

Alaric has been making a cufflink holder for the cufflinks I made him for Advent, the girls have been making invites and decorations for Mary's party and we have all been working on the cosplay outfits for True Believers Comic Festival which is this weekend coming. This has involved sewing, sticking, painting, metal twisting, papier mache and buying new wellys.

I had to get a third print run of my colouring book Love: A Stranger Dream made and in general have been trying to sort out The WigglyPets Press.

I have been teaching myself origami and have folded lit. hundreds of things from geometric modules to make bigger things from to little stand up foxes to pretty little boxes.

We've organised things for getting back down the allotment, so just sorting out containers for soil etc...

I've knitted four hats, made an Ironman craft kit, taken the kids to two (not us) birthday parties. Three projects are still currently being designed and refined including mending a rocking horse that is older than me. I accidently made a pair of slippers from an old coat whilst trying to make a portal gun (please tell me this happens to other people!).

Alaric made my laptop usable again (for now) and we had a chicken fatality 🙁 and we had to fix the chicken run and stuff and general animal stuff to sort out. We've got our new electric car and there was pie making!

NB pie was not chicken Al is veggi!

Jean is still at Scouts, Jujitsu, and Drama and Mary is doing her Ballet, both girls are missing climbing but for one of the parties we did get to go "caving". Alaric is still doing Krav and Hackspace each week. Oh and of course we had to do my tax (sobs!).

There were also visits from and too various family.

So that was January - it snowed and it rained and there was scary fog.

Happy New Year 2017 (by )

New Years Resolutions and Goal Setting Jar

The new day dawned on the new year and we were all still snoozing in our nests of clean bedding. We'd changed the lining so we would have clean sheets for the new year - symbolic.

We had a lovely night last night with wish stars and fire and The Rats of Nim, and there are photos which I hope to get around to sharing.

Today we got up at 12, lunch time. And made our resolution and goal setting jar. We burnt our wishes last night so that they could fly free (plus I can never shake the idea that burnt things go to heaven - this idea got lodged in my head at 7 yrs of age when my nan died and was cremated I would make her things and cut them up and burn them so they could go up to heaven for her - I got very distressed when I realised a lot of rubbish got burnt!).

We each picked a colour and then cut A4 paper in that colour into 8 (some of us used more than one sheet some of us less), we wrote the resolutions and how we are planning to carry them out, we wrote goals and little action plans, Mary mostly drew hers. We then rolled them up, popped a loom band round and dropped them in the jar. Some of them we shared and some we didn't, for ones that are secret "Don't Read" was placed as a label on the rolled up scroll.

There are extra sheets in the four different colours plus a little bag containing pencils and loom bands in the top of the jar. The jar is huge and once contained stuffed olives - it still smells vaguely of garlic but that is being seen as a feature. We plan to keep the jar highly visable so as not to forget and to help keep the pace up and also we aim to review the contence at the equinoxes and solstices and any other time we think it appropriate. Again this is to keep momentum up.

Mary saw me knock a leek down that was waiting for composting as we ended up with ALOT of leeks this year. This lead to a humourous half hour of word play about me leaking on the floor and at one point calling Jean down from upstairs to help clean up Mary's leeks as she'd leaked all over the downstairs of the house 🙂

The Leeks of Summoning

Jean rolled her eyes and then giggled and then proceeded the Leek Summoning or nest building as the demi-deamond Mookie Moo (Mary) called the leek construction. I pointed out to Alaric that they had gotten lots of things for Christmas and what was it they were playing with? Shrivelled up leeks. There were arguments over how many sides there should be, Jean said 5 Mary said 6 we pointed out that traditionally it is 7 or on the discworld 8. Like all good kids they ignored us and continued with their game which was actually two separate games but hey they were playing co-opratively with each other - something both of them had put down as a resolution.

Mary in her nest of leeks

Then we went off to the cinema to watch Newt Scaramanga unleash havoc on New York - Mary cried when we said we were going to the cinema to watch a Harry Potter movie, she wanted to watch Frozen there if we had to go and why couldn't we watch it at home? She cheered up once she found it was not one of the films we had at home even though we had explained that multiple times on route!

Me and Jean are of the opinion that Newt looks like Matt Smith if he'd been turned into a shop manikin and then back into a human - weirdly melted.

I have no idea what happened in the fight scenes as I had to hide from them but yeah no slurred speech just slightly tingly arms and a bit of virtigo! 🙂

There were tears today - mine as I feel short changed by the universe and also like I have no right to feel like that... I was ill and stuff as a kid with blood transfusions and walking aids and hearing and speech issues etc... but I thought I'd grown out of it, I thought I'd grow up big and strong and then I was grown up and I tried to do the stuff you need to be big and strong to do.... I failed. Alaric asked me what I'd invisioned myself doing as a grown up and so I told him... climbing mountians, deep sea diving, exploring... maybe even going to space.

I find it hard to let go of dreams. I wanted to find new things and explore. He says you can do this without physically going and picking up rocks, I say I know I tried that but the physical location of labs in some institutions meant I couldn't get into them or it was exhusting to do so and it was still the consolation prize and I still failed at it. He reckons there is new stuff everywhere to find, I'm having trouble seeing that - I said the closest I get these days in writing my novels, notice the mary-sues or janes or what ever they are called of sick people designing exo-skeletons or waldos or other to get around physical issues???

And having said all this I am probably the fittest and healthiest I have ever been bar my brain not working properly... oh the irony it's always something...

And I am lucky, I am alive, I have explored things, this summer I got to go to South Africa, I got to see whales, I've always wanted to see whales!!! I got to read the landscape and talk to people who helped end apartied, I got to see the southern hemi-sphere for the second time in my life. That is amazing, that is more than most of the earths population, I have a big house and kids in amazing schools, I have a hubby who doesn't hate me for keep getting ill or sick or injuried. Who is my best friend.

I have friends, friends who have not abandoned me when my brilliance of mind was dulled, friends who did not run away though none of us can be there always because we all have lives and that is a two way street, a cyclic thing, they helped when they could, and we have done the same, we've stopped each other from drowning.

So I am a ball of confused emotions, the more better I get from the head injury the more frustrating I am finding the issues it has left me with but I am also amazed at what I have.

Maybe next year my Christmas can be filled with sparkling lights again - I miss them but if I can't have them then I can do what we've done this year and just ask people to visit us and have events here.

After a year of multiple redundencies Alaric has a good job and we are even looking at getting a car!

Life is good, our plans are solid, we are almost where we thought we'd be 10 yrs ago 🙂

The coming year will be full of creating and making and videos of much of it as they are easier than big junks of writing at the moment and serve almost the same purpose!

Also Salaric Craft and How To blogs have just had their tenth Christmas so you will be seeing a lot of stuff to do with that, and the Wiggly Pets blog was set up in the summer of 2007 so prepare for more zines and photo stories and the like!

I like acting - I know I've come to this conclusion late in the day but I did an advert and the Fright House stuff, in 2015 I did a music vid and docu-drama. I'm not sure how to get more of this sort of stuff but I will be looking!

Alaric needs to get time to work on his projects - he has stuff that humanity needs... most of his time "off" ie redundent got taken up with infrastructure stuff in the house/server migration.

2017 here we come!

Apparently there will be stargazing and photography 🙂

The Rock Pools (by )

(Back blogged due to server migration issues)

Rock pool

On the last day beach outing in South Africa we came across the rock pools with many and varied creatures, some bright and some not so bright.

Clam Anenome fish

There were anenomes, barnicals, fish, clams, many bright shells and so on. Though some where deeper than others and all had fresh (though sea salty) water washing over them as we stood there watching. Some were deeper than others.

Algea and sea weed

Mary was most taken with the red anenome 🙂

Red Anenome

I liked the fact that the ripples in the sea water cast little rainbows even over the more subtly coloured creatures like this clam.

Clam South Africa

And as promised here are the fish 🙂 or some of the fish anyway 🙂

Fish South Africa

I probably would not have found the rock pools if Lionel had not pointed them out as they are sunk into fractures in the rocks which are slippery with algea. They were worth the slipping risk!

Finding the rockpools

The girls loved the rockpools

Finding Rockpools

Alaric spent ages with them looking in their wibbly wobbly depths 🙂

Looking in the rock pools

I just loved how you could see a whole little ecosystem there contained in a cradle of rock 🙂 It made me miss Ewan Laurie lessons and paleobiology and being shown byssal threads on field trips 🙂 I may have board the kids with all this along with dentition and muscle scars on shells which apparently I tell them everytime we are at a beach (oops!).

Rockpool South Africa

We actually came home with a book on the oceanic life in South Africa and I will attempt to look up some of what we saw. It also made me determined to do more with the poems and stories I've written about rock pools in the past 🙂

Beach Rocks! (by )

(Back blogged due to server migration)

Exploring South Africa

I love rocks, stones, minerals, landscapes... South Africa was already under my skin for it is the home of the Cradle of Humankind and though we did not manage to go and visit it I know of it and about it and as a teen I read every book our library and the library network had to offer me on human origins and various homonid ancestors. My entire Punk In Pink novel series is based on an alternative history that comes from the fossil gap.

Cormarents

But more than any of that - South Africa has rocks!!! It has many and varied rocks and landscapes that show the origin of those rocks so vividly. Even the birds love the rocks!

The Boulders

The thing is that I am a geologist, yes I am not in industry or working for an institution but I was a geologist way before I ever set foot in Imperial College, and even before I did A'level geology. I was the child that collected stones and shells and leaves and stones and fossils because they were stone shells and leaves and tried to make her take a fossil home from the Welsh Mountains that was bigger than me at the age of 5.

Rising boulder

So I took a lot of photos of rocks and how they fit in the landscape and sometimes you can see write small what is write large like contacts between rock types or the way fractures behave.

Contact

I feared that not being active in the field and not studying would mean I could no longer read the landscape, I feared the head injury may have robbed me of what vestage of that ability I had left. But the more we explored, the more I looked, the more I saw, the more the puzzle pieces fell into place.

granite boulder

And once I saw the shape of how it was I began to look for and read the geology of the area - out of books and a map Alaric's Dad and Lynn showed me. I can not tell you the joy of having read that landscape correctly - true I may not be able to tell at a glance what a rock is exactly anymore but I still know enough to tell the rough how it foamed and why it is structured the way it is.

Feldspar

And I might have really liked the feldspars on the beach boulders and the quartz and the mica... and I might have tried to get the girls to look at them and they may have been more interested in the fish (don't worry I took a photo of the fish but you'll have to wait for another post for that one!).

rock in the sea

But Mary would scamper off and find me things and drag me to them and make me look and tell her and Jean would pretend to not be interested but then collected some stones for later...

Boulders at the Boulders

And yes these photos are all from our beach adventure on that last day and believe me if the camera battery hadn't gone flat I would have taken more. I still recall the chinmey climb to the sea we walked past and on other days preserved ripples and fossils and so so much more which I did not get photos of or have come out blurry and which there was no time to sketch.

Interesting weathering

I love rocks but I know most people don't so I have tried to limit the rocky outcrops... I mean posts on them 😀

Beach Treasures (by )

(Back blogged due to server issues)

Lush

We saw much wonderful bird, animal and plant life in South Africa, even the beach was teeming with it and I don't mean a few insipid jelly fish. No there were bright green little birds like the one in the just above - I was literally just walking along the beach on our last day trying to catch the rest of the family up as I'd stopped to take photos of rocks when it came and said hello!

Beach succulent

This bird wasn't the only thing that was bright green - this succulent sea grass reminded me of the edible beach walks I used to have my my uncle Jim down at Stone. I did not attempt to see if this was edible - I'm not stupid honest!

Ropy root

Life just seemed to be bursting out of the seams and the cracks and I often did not know which this to take the photo of first!

I loved this root bent and barren looking and then at points like this... wham! Lots of new leaves and the struggle for life to get a choke hold continues 🙂

Algea Sand

Even the sand had an attack of the algea - little Mary who truly came alive in South Africa though she was home sick bless - hurtled into me to announce she had found special green sand and could I tell her how a rock could be green! I probably would not have seen the green sand if she had not have done this 🙂

Beach Palm

Each of us found a different aspect of this glorious shore to explore from Mary and her green things to Jean and the wave patterns to Lionel and the anenomes (more on them later!).

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