Meet Sheila (by )

Our electric car

We've finally managed it!!!

This is Sheila she is our new car and she is actually NEW! As those of you have known us for a long time will knew we have not had the best luck with cars... vans fine but cars no.

We have been lucky in that friends and family have stepped in with cars and the little Skoda was lovely and reliable but... was a bit small for multiple sets of hips and a car seat in the back and sadly we wore the poor thing out. It did us good service though!

There have been many adventures of getting stuck on motoways with no phone charge and having to walk and walk... well you can read that fiasco here. Also I am sick of trying to fix engines on the go with what ever we have laying around (remember the time I attempted to make a missing pipe out of empty drinks cans?).

Or the time the car set on fire? (OK which time the car set on fire!).

So we've tried saving up and we've tried buying second hand vechiles from not friends/second hand car dealers ships and well yes you guessed it that ended up with the company we taking to court filing for bankruptcy as they do every single time too many people try and take them to court >:(

You can read that one here.

Obviously a lot of this was not having money, having to go for what we could get, we borrowed my mums little car, it red, white and blue and it failed catastrophically. Bear in mind it's not like we don't do maintinance - in general a large chunk of our weekends was often spent faffing around with the cars and vans but this is what happens when you can't afford new cars. It costs more to have little money than it does to have alot!

Anyway long story short - we have a shiny new car with funky lights - I will try and get a better pic!

Pretty car lights

Did I mention it's electric? It's ELECTRIC!!! Not hybrid but full on electric - it is not a Tesla (boo), it is not a funky colour... it isn't even the blue or silver we would have preferred and of course... it is ours but it is not ours. We've leased it.

a) This was basically the only way we were going to get any new vechile ever and b) it is electric and as much as we've always wanted electric it is still an emergent technology and so we really don't want to be investing tens of thousands (even if we could!) into something that is pretty much still prototyping.

I am very excited about it being electric!!! I used to enter all the New Scientists comps to win a hybrid back in the day!

One little note on the old car thing - I was coming from a back ground where my relatives were autocar mechanics and there was always access to tools and maybe even an apprentices to fix the cars. In that environment it's doesn't matter that the car is old and also it means you don't get ripped off because cars that need a little work kind of accumulate and you're sorted. Outside of this environment and there are dangerous crooks who don't care if what they are selling you for all the money you've scraped together is dangerous.

And breath.

We are incredibly lucky to get our car - it is glacial white, it smells of new car. We picked it up this afternoon - it is now getting muddy because... Cranham and Scouting. It comes with polish and high viz. I love the lights... asthetically I really LOVE those lights. I was in fact mooning over those lights on a Zoe (make of car we have) at the services not long ago... it's still not a Tesla. No more road side fixing!!! Remember I can't actually drive and am kind of fed up with stupidly put together engines that are actually designed so that it's hard to fix outside the approved dealership because.... money.

The vans a Ford Transit - we know what we're doing with those 🙂

So yeah its a Zoe 🙂

Our car Sheila

Which is why we've called it Sheila 🙂 (Sheila's are often called Zoe incase you didn't know!).

So yeah... we has new car - we kind of thought this would never happen, we are very nervous about it but it is here now and we have charging cards and a big fat cable!

A Flambe Lunch (by )

Bacon on fire

So yeah - looks like I still can't really cook on my own. I'm fine with popping something in the oven to heat and nuking stuff in the microwave and even things that cook quickly in the frying pan though I still tend to burn them. But yeah I was grilling some bacon, I knew it was an off day, I couldn't find half my craft supplies that turned out to be exactly where I left them and so on.

Issue - weekend was busy with poetry performances, kids parties and tax returns. I think it might have been the tax return I had to think about which years stuff happened in and that is often different to the year it was paid for in which might be a different calendar year to the tax year and might not. Al did the reciet checking but I still had to work out dates and where I'd filed (or hadn't filed) various invoices etc..

Basically I am on my own during the day, Al normally makes food for me to just nuke for lunch or I have dips and veg etc... but there wasn't time to organise that because the weekend was busy and I didn't even do everything we were supposed to do! ie I was supposed to have a self defence class - something kind of needed after the van being smeared in shit and yobs throwing sexual insaults at me and my daughter.

Getting back to it - I decided what I wanted was bacon because it was being a slow day and I couldn't get my head around anything so working was a no go. Everytime I tried to do my naps someone was at the door delivering stuff (yes Christmas stuff is still arriving at our house!!! And we still have presents to hand out - go us!). I put the bacon on, I don't like cooking it when Al is around because it stinks and he's a vegi and its not nice for him.

Not really sure what happened, I was in the kitchen, the bacon was under the grill, it smelt like bacon cooking and then suddenly it smelt like bacon burning and when I looked there were flames coming out of the grill and I was like "AARRRGGGGGGGG" I oiked the grill tray out singing my oven gloves (booo hissssss) and popped it in the garden where the flames where leaping and spitting as the rain hit the hot fat.

I looked for our fire putting out thing... cylinder. It wasn't there - this is because it is actually in the workshop where it is more likely to be needed but Al says we can get a fire blanket for the kitchen which will make me happier.

When I looked the flames had signif. calmed down in the rain and I thought it would be ok so I got my camera and took a pic - because you know that is just what I do! Here's a picture of my lunch or rather the lunch that would have been.

Of course I was then too worried about burning things to attempt making the kids dinner and was just setting them up with cheese and biscuits (remembering Mary can't eat cow milk and is refusing peanut butter I wasn't very sure what I was actually going to be feeding her - we were going to be having fish fingers but the grill tray was/is still in the garden and I am not sure it will be much good). To the girls delight and my relief Alaric came in brandishing shopping and started cooking pasta.

This meant Mary went to bed an hour past her bed time as he comes in just before her bedtime. So kind of failure - kind of funny - kind of scary - very frustrating but also I am starting to see the correlations with things. I did heavy brain load stuff (tax) whilst not having my naps - I will get there with this one but it is why Al worries about leaving me on my own.

Places I Forget Exist (by )

Yesterday as we went to take Mary to a friends birthday, we pulled up to part in Gloucester but the bits around were we normally park where full so he tried to pull down to the bit that always has parking. I feel a slick in my mind, it is an unpleasant sensation - I do not want to go there. It is a silly feeling so I am quiet we are only parking.

Mary on the other hand starts wailing, "I don't like it here!!!!"

Without thinking I say, "yeah Mary I don't like it here either." Al turns around and drives the little way up where a space is now avaliable where we'd originonally looked - lit a on the same street.

As he is turning he mutters, "yes I know why that is."

I go, "er?"

"For many it was the last place they saw."

And then I remember... there was a house there once, but it is gone because a couple where enticing kids/young people in and killing them and hiding the bodies.

Now I knew this because it came up last year when a similar thing happened but I had blocked it out. I kind of forget this bit of Gloucester exists.

So I never looked up where the family lived but I knew about them and when we were buying our house I told Al to make sure that we didn't buy somewhere they had been. That was pretty much my only proviso with buying a house.

Where the house was is a short cut, I spent almost a decade here not knowing that that was where the house had been. But I had somehow also spent most of a decade not using the short cut or venturing anywhere near there. If I think about it, it is just a shadow there in my mind, not a place, a thick greasy shadow.

Not long after the head injury Al also tried to park there but I got really distressed, it was just us, he asked what was wrong and I told him it felt wrong. A sense of immense danger loomed at me from that bit. That was when I found out where it was.

It is a silly thing I feel and I tried to ignore it. So there was another time we parked there - this was the point at which Mary freaked us both out. She did not get upset and cry like this time, she was younger... instead she pointed and said, "I remember this place! This is where I died! Before when I had a brother."

Now at the time she was always saying such things but always in uncanny situations so like she'd point to a building site we'd walk past to go to the Climbing Wall and she'd say, "My dad and brother are buried there, they died a loooooooooong time ago." This was the same dad and brother she insisted where on the fresco thing on the same streety bit. It shows Romans fighting. Turns out that whilst they were building they found about 200 Roman bodies.

Friends who have taken Mary out have commented on the fact she says these things and she says them in away that makes your stomach drop, she is so sincere and it sounds true.

No I am not saying we a psycic, we are scientists but being scientists I also what to get to the bottom of the miraide of ghost stories and unexplainables we have.

So I posit that local people all know what happened there, and I knew it was somewhere in Gloucester, peoples body language would tell me that something was wrong. My brain rejestered it as a "bad" place and we are social animals, we learn from each other. I then passed this on to Mary who is incredibly sensitive to how tense I am. I forget that that bit of Gloucester exists because lets face it as a teen it was one of the worst nightmares because it could happen to you and as a parent it is a worst nightmare because you have to let your kids grow up and that means it might happen to them... and though it is low probability that area of Gloucester proves that it can and did happen and it is horrible.

However, it is also not the strongest (nor the weakest) of these sorts of reactions I have to places. I don't normally tell people because... well I went to Imperial College and discovered in my first year that people laugh at you when you tell them about your near death experiences. So you don't mention the road you don't take because it just never occurred to you and that when you followed everybody else it seemed wrong and slow, like the air and shadows where pulling at you. When trying to push yourself through the stupidness coming home late from the Student Union in your second first year you see a Woman in big heavy dress, you see a woman but she has no colour and she is sad, just so sad and scared and you run... around the block to get to the door that was just the other side of the woman looking at you.

Panting you cave and tell a fellow housemate who is like, "yeah the victorian lady, my mum's a medium don't tell anyone. I researched it and I think she's a Ripper victim." Then another house mate appeared, he didn't like being in his room alone, he was worried... turns out he kept seeing a woman in some sort of filly old formal nightgown in the garden from his window. When we looked it was the other side to where I'd been so if a real person had been standing there we would have both seen them.

I'm blaming mass hysteria for this one, because we used to sit and talk about ghosts and magik and all the taboo things in the science world late into the night.

Then there was the way back to Alaric's flat in Ealing, it was like hitting a wall of dense air, (in Kenya I found there was a name for such things and they were thought to fire/sand demons? because yes me and another girl had a terrifying experience which I think was actually a natural phenominia of a warm air vortex causing air pressure changes resulting in us being trapped in different rooms, a scary noise and the doors refusing to open - this would also fit with the locals description of what the demons where). It was a short piece of path, but to me it felt like something jumped on my back and was weighing me down, like the shadows were pawing and dragging at me.

In the end I caved and asked if we walk the other longer way, through the scary alley way. That was when I found he didn't like the same bit of road, that he always felt watched there and that it somehow seemed to take forever to walk that one small bit.

Then I saw an Elephant, a white elephant but I am not sure now if it was late night or a dream, I told Al, "when ever we get to this road and look at that tree I can't help but imagine an elephant here!"

Turns out there is an actual elephant buried there - WTF??! No seriously in London there is an elephant buried. I must have over heard something about it in a pub or something. Still no idea what was going on with that stretch of road.

I could go on, I feel I should write them down, they make good stories but I think they are also important for understanding how the human mind works, how we pick up ideas for each other and also - as a good scientist I have an open mind, I think it unlikely that I've been seeing ghosts but I don't think it's impossible, but even if it is impossible I and many others are seeing, hearing and feeling things so what is actually going on? If we don't share our accounts for fear of being seen as nutters then we as a species will never get to the bottom of what is going on.

And so I am going to share with you the most powerful experience of this kind I've had as a grown up, dubbed The Marble Arch Incident.

I went off to university with plans to see all the landmarks and museums I could... I found money and time where a barrier but I still motored my way through a fair few. One which was right there, one which everyone else went to and I somehow had just avoided including taking longer to get to places was... Marble Arch. I did not do this knowingly but I managed it.

As some of you know Alaric had an uncoventional upbringing with this sort of stuff, his dad is Chaos Magician and his mother was heavily into the Occult. Issue I had at the time was trying to be a good scientist but having come from a Christian background that believes in mediums and ghosts and fortune telling as well I was very edgy about occult things. But people I met at parties would come up to me and just announce I was psycic or a seer and so on.

Alaric observed this. Alaric is a scientist (though his degrees engineering). Alaric decides to run an experiment on his new girlfriend. Alaric is a git.

From conversations with his friends he decided Marble Arch would be a good test. I knew nothing about this but wonder if I picked it up via his body language.

Anyway, we are out on one of our little explores - Marble Arch. I didn't like the area but didn't want to ruin things, we went through a tunnel, I got sick, he had to help me walk. I was being crushed, like the pressure above me and increased drastically, despair, so much despair and cruelty, it seemed to stretch up and up and up and all of it was pouring onto me and it made me ill, Al thought I passing out. Maybe this was just my first migraine because yeah I have migraines now.

But the key factor for his experiment was that the point this happened was where the Tyburn Gallows had been. It was the point at which many many people had died, executed and jeered, I've never been back.

So not particullarly impressive ghost stories because it's not really about ghosts - what's frustrating me is that I kind of loose places. Like that bit of Gloucester, like marble arch and so on. My mind edits them out as if I am a sat nav with a very specific setting.

Poetry Scrolls and Food For Thought (by )

A packed Food for Thought Jan 2017

Saturday afternoon I went along for the third time to Food For Thought, this is a monthly spoken word event in Gloucesters Cafe Rene. It is a relatively diverse group who attend though it is down stairs one of the reasons I've only just discovered there is a basement venue!

It was live streamed - I read twice - I did Shy and Ice and managed once again to walk into the speaker making it a hat trick!

There was a good variety of works ranging from classical, comedic rhyme, rap type styly and stuff from behind bars.

Next month is there Two Year Anniversary!!! Sadly for me it classes with The True Believers Comic Book Festival but hey - COMIC BOOK FESTIVAL!!!!

I will be at the comic book fest as WigglyPets Press if anyone else is going. There is also a LARP craft fair thingy going on in Gloucester that weekend too!

Anyway... Food For Thought was great - it ended up being standing room only and there was a little dog!!! And babies.

I took along my mini poetry scrolls which I have been making since new year. These have my art work on side and a poem on the other. Alot of the art work I have used for the covers of my poetry zines etc... so the poems on those are ones from the relevant collections.

Illustrated mini poetry scrolls

I took along a whole bag of them and scattered them around the room before the event started. Someone thought I was scattering money on the tables because of they way they are rolled up. I laughed and said, "Money!!!! Don't be daft I'm a poet where would I get money like that from!".

Bag of mini poetry scrolls to give out at Food For Thought

I was kind of shy about it once people started to open them and read them - it's kind of an arrogance to assume people will want my stuff. And some don't want it, some people ignored them and others looked and then discarded and that is fine.

Some however picked them up and tracked me down and asked me questions about things like career or just wanted to state they liked them or wanted to know if the art work was mine as well (it is).

MiniIllustrated Poetry Scrolls by Sarah Snell-Pym

There are currently eight different poems, I am hoping to get that up to ten in the near future - as in before the end of the week.

Illustrated mini Poetry scrolls

I am filling up a little barrel full of them to take to book fairs and things. They have come out much nicer than I was expecting!!!

Poetry Scrolls

I've been developing this concept since New Year and part of it stems from the idea I had for our resolution jar and part of it came from something I read in one of the origami books I got. I've always loved my paper craft and the origami has helped spark so many ideas.

Poetry scrolls in box

I've even created some boxes and things from traditional origami to display the scrolls in. This part of the project is still under development but I think it's super cute so have decided to share it with you.

Mini Poetry Scrolls in origami box

The scrolls are small as shown by the coin for scale in the above photograph. However I still plan to make some even smaller ones. The idea of making really little writings like this is not new to me. When I was a kid we'd spend a lot of time in Wales visiting family and one day me and my brother were given the tiny tiniest bible - it sat in the palm of our hands. I loved it so much that a little poetry book about the same size was found or made for me (I'm not sure if my great uncle was making them or not). These were beautiful and I have always sort to create something similar.

Poetry Scroll Box with scroll lid

I want to display my works in lovely ways, this is my nature and something I feel has been some what repressed by me trying to make my creative stuff profitable/bill paying. The lid is a mock up in scrap paper where zine printing went wrong and does involve glue, I think once I've perfected it, it will look amazing!!!

I have several other box prototypes being tried out as well.

Now within the origami book it talked about making paper and different types of paper being used to convey part of the message or the feelings surrounding the gift. I felt this was almost an extension to visual or concrete poetry where the structure of the poem and the font of the works as well as where on the page etc... is part of the message or feel. And I also make textural artworks to add a sensory depth so this made me feel all goose bumpy, I could apply this to poetry!

Then I thought about what paper I could maybe write on and draw on and what textures it should be and then I thought... hang on rather than buying patterned paper I can use art works that I have already created to compliment/add depth to the poems. They are there already and I knew I wanted them to be scrolls, little one off treasures.

I considered making my own paper - I used to do this as a child with scrap office paper and food colouring, it tends to catch my pens so I only like using it for making boxes etc... I realise I probably just need to try different things but I am happy with my scrolls.

Yes they are held together with loom bands - silicon ones - I did ask the kids if I could have them and will be replacing what I use from their stocks and hey they've had all the ones people bought me!

And that leads us onto the butterflying effect of ideas: ideas beget ideas and you end up with what I term a thought cascade - sometimes it can get too much and stops you thinking all together!

So from this I now have story scrolls which are still in development and are big, micro scrolls which are titchy! And are actually a resurrection of an idea I had before the head injury of putting stories in jewellery. And then there are the poetry notelets!

Illustrated blank poetry notelets

The kids wanted to steal the poetry scrolls but they wanted to make their own but they want the pretty pictures and I run writing sessions and creativity drives etc... so I thought... blank poetry scrolls! Ones people can use to write their own poems on.

Blank Poetry Scrolls

So I selected the art work and made them. I rolled a set up to see how they look and I think they are fab! The girls love them 🙂

Rolled up poetry notelets

I picked art works of mine that I thought would be inspiring in and of themselves. Below is my favourite photo of them.

Illustrated poetry notelets turned into poetry scrolls by Sarah Snell-Pym

I am planning on releasing a templates PDF with them in. I might have to charge money for it or something because... bills. But I will also be leaving little sets of them around for people to find 🙂

They work best stored flat so I have been making little books and boxes for them. And also there are a couple of workshops I have worked out in and around this idea from creating your own from scratch to just using as writing aids but more on that later 🙂

And Then There Were Three :'( (by )

And then there were three chickens

Friday night about 11:30 pm I awoke in a panic, I was suddenly convinced that something was very wrong with the chickens, I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep so I went down to check on them. Only three came out to great me... and there was a smell. I checked in the nest box and it was gross, one of them had obvs. been ill but there was no forth chicken in there. I eventually found her dead and huddled and stinking in a little hollow. Her tail was devoid of feathers, the meat/flesh look fresh but she stank and what the hell happened to her feathers?

So I proceed to set up the remaining three in a little hutch and run thing we had for rabbits because the hen house was in just too much of a state. There temperatures were still hovering around freezing. So what had happened? Had I miss counted that morning?

It had snowed so I went out and checked on them before the sun came up but maybe I miss counted, maybe we'd missed her when she died? I'm sure there were four apparently healthy chickens in the run when I went to check. I think I woke up because I forgot to check for the straggler (dead chook is the straggler), she was the under chicken but the bullying wasn't bad enough for me to take her out, she wasn't being pecked but sometimes they wouldn't let her near the food so I would make extra food piles for her and sometimes they wouldn't let her in the hen house so I would go and put her in at night. I can see from the kitchen when this needs to be done.

In hind sight I hadn't seen her when we went out there with kitchen scraps mid afternoon but that is often when they are laying or sitting and we try not to disturb them so I wouldn't have thought it odd that their were only three chickens 🙁

So... I assume she was ill and then curled up and died, I don't know if the other chickens then plucked her bum trying to get her to move or just because she was there or what. I think she was there when I checked in the morning, I am sure all four came out to great me. Now they are in the medium run because there was a bird flu out break and it is covered where the big run isn't so it keeps them safer from wild bird contamination so was it bird flu?

The others seem fine. Did they bully her to death? Did I miss judge? Did she stink because I'd missed she'd died or did she have egg perinonitis which I had missed and the rotten egg inside had finally ruptured? Al reminds me that they are rescues and they are around the age of being to die anyway and that the other three look fine.

She looked fine though - this is them on Monday.

Chickens in the Kitchen

I get lonely so I go and get them and they walk straight into the kitchen and keep me company and yes I have poos to clear up but it is a moppable surface.

Feeling guilty about it, a stuck egg is the most likely, all the chooks we've lost from this batch have died from that - one of them laid an shelless egg the first evening after rescue and never woke up. They have all the suppliments and things and I know this is normal for old hens but I feel it's my duty to analyse it so I can look after future and the remaining hens better.

Here are the remainers again jostling to get in.

Chickens coming into the house

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