Monday, November 26, 2012

My "empowered" postcards are on their way

Today was posting day for iHanna's autumn postcard swap - and by the skin of my teeth I was ready just in time

Four of my cards are headed to America - 2 x Virginia, plus Arizona & Oregon -  and the fifth card is Quebec bound.  None at all going to Europe this time which was a surprise, as last time I took part in this swap there were a lot of Scandinavian participants.

The theme for the postcards was "empowerment", and the most empowered words I know are those from the Pearl Jam song, "I Am Mine":

I know I was born and I know that I'll die
The in between is mine
I am mine

So I decided to kind of re-create a journal entry from last year:

Although I didn't still have any of the original imagery, and I thought I'd do it in slightly more uplifting colours, so the end result is nothing much like the original:

I've stuck one of my faux postage stamps on the back of each (along with a real one!) - I hope the recipients like them ....

And I wonder what I shall receive in return? Exciting!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Rocking Your World Friday weeks 44-47

Is three weeks up already??

Assuming I’m going to keep to the every-third-week pace, I’ve only got two more RYWF updates to go after this one and then 2012 will be done – eek!  How did that happen??

(or, if the Aztecs are right, I only have to do one more....)

So – what have I been up to?  Having a lot of fun actually, which I ascribe largely to the fact that it has mainly been nice and sunny (if a bit on the chilly side) and so we’ve been able to get out and about.  This has put me in a really good mood, I hate being stuck indoors.

Our main outdoor activity has been white horse hunting.  The big, chalk, carved-into-the-side-of-a-hill kind.  There are eight of these altogether in Wiltshire (plus an extra one just over the border into Oxfordshire), and it is one of our family goals to visit all nine before September 2013.  Over the past couple of weeks we have ticked another two off our list so that means we are now up to 7, and we just have 2 left.

So, here is the Marlborough white horse (a dinky one):

and the Devizes white horse (the only one of the nine which faces to the right):

(the little people are Connor and Reece, the cows were very friendly, I was stood just between the horse's back legs)

(not my photo, this is how it looks from the air)
At both locations we also made an afternoon of it by doing some geocaching (and in Marlborough, some Chariots of Fire style time trials :) ), nice cheap family fun in the autumn sunshine, fab.

Another reason I’m in a good mood, I actually managed to have two whole days off work the other week.  In a row!  It was like a bonus weekend, but on a Wednesday and Thursday.  When you work full time, days off are totally like the best thing everrrrrrr, dude.

The Wednesday I spent mainly chilling, and painting, and watching Battlestar, and having a super long soak in a very bubbly bath, and generally doing all the terribly self indulgent things that I don’t have time for in an average week.  Lovely :)

Then on the Thursday I took Connor to London town to see my dad and also to visit the Tower of London.  Again this is related to our family goals – we had a goal to visit eight different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and this was number eight, so that’s a goal ticked off the list! Yay!  (The other seven, as I know you’re dying to ask, were the Dorset Jurassic Coast, the Avebury/Stonehenge area, Greenwich, Blenheim Palace, the City of Bath, Ironbridge, and the Cornish Tin Mines.   The full list is here - I’d love to visit all 28, but some – Henderson Island anyone? - are a little remote!

The Tower of London was absolutely packed with tourists –it was half term – but we still really enjoyed our visit despite the crowds.  I don’t remember ever going there before, although my dad reckons they must have taken me when I was little.  First we had a guided tour by a real life Beefeater – he was very funny and told us some fascinating stories and amusing anecdotes as we walked around the (huge) site.  For one thing, I didn’t realise that the Beefeaters still have to live on site in the Tower – and that the doors are locked at night with absolutely nobody allowed in or out, so they have to have a doctor living in there with them in case of an overnight medical emergency.

Then we had a good look round the exhibitions – Connor was particularly amused by this suit of armour belonging to a young Henry VIII (so that’s how he attracted all those wives???) – and the crown jewels.  Now, I have to say I wasn’t that bothered about going to see the jewels, I’m not a big jewellery person – at least not into traditional gold and diamonds and the like.  But, oh my lord, in the flesh they were BEAUTIFUL!!  So sparkly!!  I’m beginning to get the appeal :D

Back out in the grounds, we took part in a reconstruction of the English civil war.  I was a parliamentarian, Connor was a royalist.  He ended up getting a certificate and general congratulations from the ‘cast’.  I got beheaded.  Ooops.  Maybe I should have picked the side that actually won!

And finally, the gift shop …. I got some postcards – as ever (I really ought to start up Postcrossing again so I actually get to use some) – and Connor bought the most impressive (and heavy – they are real cast iron) set of jailer’s keys.  They are awesome!  He said I am allowed to play with them sometimes :)

(apparently that's his prison guard face :) )
My only regret is that we didn’t get to see the infamous Tower ravens.  I do hope they haven’t flown away (as then England will fall!).  I think it’s more likely that they were just staying out of the way of the crowds….

So then I was back into work for one day, and then it was the weekend again – this is the life!  I wish I could do that all the time, work one day on, two days off, ad infinitum ......

On the Sunday of that weekend I was up super bright and early to go visiting.  I had to be in Birmingham before 9am, so that meant getting out of bed before 7am.  On a lie-in day. Ouch!  But so worth it, as my lovely friend Michelle was making a flying visit to the UK on her way to Venice from the US, and this was my one chance to meet up with her in the flesh.  We have been chatting away over the interwebs for years now, but that just doesn’t compare to a proper hug and a catch up over a cuppa.  I wish we had had more time as the three hours we had went by in the blink of an eye.  Hopefully we will have another chance to meet up one day (I still have to visit the New Jersey Devils home rink, it’s on my list, so expect a house call, Michelle!).

I made her sign my True Colors book, because that book was what started it all for me, I'd never done anything remotely creative before then.  And it was because of the book that I first sought out Michelle's website, started chatting to her, and how we became pals.  So it means a lot to me.  I didn't see what she had actually written until I got home, made me smile....

And, talking of friends who make me smile, while I was up in the Midlands (child free at that as Jay was babysitting Connor for me, as he is a total star) I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go and see my bessie Alison, so that was my next stop.  She hadn’t told her hubby I was coming so he looked rather surprised when he opened the front door, still in his dressing gown :D  (at this point, I’d like to remind you all that I had been up and dressed for almost *6 hours*, get me! but usually I would still be in my jamas too :) ).  Great to see the bessie, as ever, and Bert the mad doggie.  Another visit where I wish we had had more time to chat as it always goes far too quickly.  I wish she lived closer.

All round, hoorah for visiting buddies from far and not so far

Onto last weekend now, and our trip to London for VANS WARPED TOUR UK - woop woop!!!  We bought tickets for this one-day punk/rock/skate festival months and months ago and the date finally rolled around.  This was Connor and Reece’s first proper gig – and talk about dropping them in at the deep end!  30 bands over 4 stages over 10 hours.  It was a long old tiring day.  But I wanted to use this as a test to see if they could hack a day at Download festival next year without getting bored or complaining, and given the great time they had at Warped I think the answer to that is a definite yes.

The gig was at Alexandra Palace in North London – one of my favourite venues, it’s such a pretty old building in lovely grounds, and as it is high up on top of a hill, it has the most amazing views over London.  And of course it was where Dr Who scaled the radio tower in the episode The Idiot’s Lantern (the really scary one with Maureen Lipman in the TV shouting “hunnggrrrryyyyyyyy!!!!” and stealing people’s faces).  Before the bands even started playing I had realised a long term ambition – I finally got a photo of the beautiful Ally Pally Rose Window from the inside – that room has never been open whenever I’ve been there before during the day.

We saw a ton of bands, and they were pretty much all on top form – I especially enjoyed Lost Prophets (more than I expected to actually), Less Than Jake, Bring Me The Horizon, the Used, Bowling For Soup, New Found Glory, Architects ….. and a couple of bands new to me that were fun to watch, Man Overboard and Force Family 5

Lost Prophets
Bring Me The Horizon
The response from the organisers is that they were overjoyed with how it all went, and it must have paid for itself as the gig was a sell out, and even all the merchandise sold out within 2 hours of the doors opening (so I’m glad we got our t shirts and stuff as soon as we got there!).  So hopefully they’ll be back next year, and we’ll be there, I’m sure.

The next day was another fab day, starting off with a nice lie in (we didn’t get home from the gig until about 1 in the morning), and then we were off to Cheltenham to meet up with the Watkins clan en masse – first we went to Jay’s Gran and Gramp’s house where his mum and Chris were there with Reg the dog, and Simon (Jay’s bro) was over from Barcelona with his wife Annie, and Reece’s big brother Kieran was there too with the first signs of his Movember moustache just starting to sprout.

There was an epic game of Frustration and then most of us went over to Gloucester where we met Jay’s dad and Kieran’s slightly hungover girlfriend at Pizza Hut for a mammoth nosh up. Yum!

Other positives:

- We have discovered a new Chinese takeaway near us that is luuuuuush!

- My hockey team has signed a new, rather fit, defenceman – about time Swindon got some eye candy ;)  (cracking photo by Simon Emms)

- There was a cool geocoin inside one of the caches we found the other day – you don’t get to see them very often nowadays which is a pity, but that means it’s a real treat when you do

- Finishing my Desert Island Discs CJ in time and getting it in the post – I love launching a new journal into the world, with all its empty pages waiting to be transformed :)

- There’s going to be a new Star Wars film next year – woohoo!!!  (and I might end up eating my words but I actually think Disney will probably do a pretty good job)

- And while we’re on the subject of Sci-Fi, I’m excited about Battlestar Galactica Blood & Chrome, the new prequel webseries – the first two episodes are now up on Youtube here and here and they are pretty good!

- Trick or Treaters – we actually got some this year, yay!  (although on the down side, that did mean fewer left over sweets for me) – Connor had a lot of fun going out ToT-ing with his pals from school too

- Prez Obama (and the lovely FLOTUS) are back for 4 more years!!! So pleased with that result, even from the other side of the world

- My Instagram web profile went live, and it looks cool:  I think I might start using Instagram more again like I used to, just to keep it up to date.

- Three of my Roller Derby photos got published in an actual magazine down in Portsmouth – I’m hoping to be able to get hold of a copy, as I love seeing stuff of mine in print, makes it seem all official-like :)

(mine are the ones with the yellow background)
- iHanna launching another one of her handmade postcard swaps, I enjoyed the last one very much

- Meeting up with Pam in Cirencester for a little wander and a chat and for her to hand over her Desert Island Discs journal – it’s a lovely fabric based affair

- Connor’s eye test going well, and the opticians having one of their 2 for 1 sales on again so I was able to get him some prescription sunglasses for free

- Darby completed the Hell Down South run and did it in record time – they say that anything under 2 hours is brilliant and his time was 1:45.  A bit muddy though, apparently his vest started off white. Ewwww.  And he told me he is still picking dried mud out of his beard :D

- that the hotel in Brum where I went to visit Michelle backed down on the £90 parking fine they tried to slap me with - I was not happy when I opened the letter!!  But when I called to explain I had been there to visit one of their guests AND the receptionist had told me I was fine to park where I was for the duration, they apologised and rescinded the fine immediately.  Phew.

- Tesco putting orange and passion fruit J2O on special offer, leading me to discover that if you add a shot of vodka it tastes pretty darned close to my favourite, sadly now discontinued, alcopop of all time - Reef.  Yum!

- Catching up with season 2 of Portlandia, and finding an episode that had both a Battlestar Galactica sketch but also a guest appearance from Eddie Vedder.  It's almost like they wrote that whole episode especially for me :)

- Connor having a glowing parents' evening and a fun class assembly in the same week - and I managed to get to both, escaping the curse of the working mum for once, hooray :)

- and finally, this :

I could watch that on a loop all night, bazinga! :D

I want to wrap up this time with a huuuuge thank you to our chief Rocketeer, Virginia.  This whole process, of sifting through your life each week (or fortnight, or every third week in my case) to find those golden nuggets, is so uplifting.  It doesn't allow you to wallow.  It makes you recognise how blessed you really are.  And none of us would be doing it if Virginia hadn't had the idea in the first place, and caught the rest of us up in her enthusiasm.  So cheers me dear!

See you all again in December - eek!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

It's postcard swapping time again

I'm not sure if you will remember, but back in the spring I took part in iHanna's annual mail art swap

I made these

and I got these in return

It was a lot of fun and myself and others were keenly looking forward to next spring so we could do it all over again

Well, it turns out we didn't have to wait that long as iHanna has launched a mini Autumn version of the swap (just the 5 postcards this time) to tide us over.  Yay!

And this time it has a theme - empowerment - ooo er missus, very deep!

I haven't got very far yet with mine:

Do they look empowered yet? :)

If you fancy joining up and playing along with me, just click on that banner at the top and it will take you straight there

(NB there is a $4 charge to play, but that's quite good really as psychologically it tends to encourage people to follow through and make and send their cards, as they have had to think about it a bit at the sign up stage and it has cost them a little bit of cash - apparently in previous years when it was free, you were lucky to get 6 or 7 cards back for the 10 you sent out, but I got all 10 this year)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

"My Soundtrack" circle journal

It's new circle journal time, yay!

I love starting a new circle and sending a fresh empty book out into the world ..... all those possibilities :)

This one is taking place over at Collabor-art and is based on a "desert island discs" type theme - there are 10 of us taking part, and we have each chosen 10 songs that mean a lot to us for whatever reason.

The other participants will each complete a page in the book inspired by one of those songs

This should be fun!

To see lots more pictures and my full song list, you'll need to go and read all about it on Collabor-art

But, here's a peek at my own page, can you guess which song I chose?