Question: did a being a tramp used to be a good thing? Cause I mean, I’m listening and I can only say she sounds like a good egg. She doesn’t come late to the theatre! She doesn’t gossip! She also just does not bother with the people she hates, so… I don’t know guys, I think she sounds great.
I’m pretty sure the pair above are Topi, spotted on a drive through Akagera national park, our very own safari site in north/eastern Rwanda, on the border of Tanzania. I decided to start posting here again because I’m really starting to limit my time on le social networks.
Facebook, the big Faceyb, is probably actually the easier to limit, in a way, because a lot of my feed was reposts of Instagram photos, memes I’d seen on Twitter, and the odd interesting link or cute video. And a ton of ads for stuff. HEY I SEE YOU’RE MARRIED NOW HERE’S AN AD ABOUT HOW HAVING BABIES SHATTERS YOUR PELVIC FLOOR AND ALSO PREGNANCY TESTS.
The harder thing about logging out of Facebook for longer periods is knowing you’re missing the occasional big announcement or birthday…but I finally put all my favourite people’s birthdays in my calendar and our close-close folks usually text us anyway when something is going down, so really, am I actually going to miss something, or am I just scared I will?
Twitter I said buh-bye to and deleted my account a few weeks ago. The only thing I miss is the occasional ridiculous witticism from my mates – because let’s face it, you don’t text someone to tell them you just faceplanted in the tube but you’ll probably tweet it to a few hundred strangers – and the ease of article discovery. Also sometimes you’d ask the hive mind about something and they’d point you in the direction of the random thing you needed. So yeah, I do miss that a bit. But hey…whatsapp.
Which brings us to: Instagram. My achilles heel. The thing I could waste hours on, scrolling, scrolling, double-tapping, passively liking and loving and not really engaging. Then there’s the feedback loop of post a picture, click out of the app, tap back in to see a few likes, tap back out, tap back in again, tap back out. One like. Five likes. Two. I genuinely love sharing our experiences with our friends, and our looser online community. I love seeing what they’re up to and having a platform to shoot them a message of congratulations or commiserations or whatever the situation asks.
But when I asked myself why I’m on there I had two reasons:
- it’s a great creative outlet and a nudge to practice my photography.
- I love seeing what my friends are doing.
Both those things are true, but they come with flipsides:
- While I’m practicing my photography in order to post it solely to Instagram, I’m absorbing everyone else’s styles and inspirations. Eventually, everything morphs into the same 5 photographs for the sake of getting it ‘seen’ on Instagram.
- I do love seeing what my friends are doing, but while that gets me into the app, the stickiness of it has been diving far too deep into the Discovery tab and an hour later here I am, wasting my time, liking tumbling videos of olympic gymnasts gone by.
So I figured, why not fire up this platform again. Maybe I’ll write some stuff. Maybe I’ll love it enough to give this old girl a revamp. Maybe I’ll create.
I figured, to start, that I would try logging out of Instagram for a month and sharing a handful of photos at the end of each. A ‘happy’ medium perhaps: still sharing with people I love, getting weeks at a time away from it.
Maybe it’ll be exactly what I need to find instagram inspiring again without flattening my own sense of creativity. Or it’ll mean that once a month I’ll get sucked in for far too long, and I’ll just have to cold turkey forever because even a little bit is too time wasteful. Or maybe spending four weeks off and a little time on will show me it’s more boring than I think.
So, here it will be for a while.
I’ll probably definitely have no-one reading this (and that is a-ok).
I’ll probably definitely take some @Insta_repeat worthy shots (because hey, the log thing is fun, killjoys).
I’ll probably definitely lose ‘followers’ but I couldn’t care less about that any more.
Instead, I’ll raise a glass to unstopping the dam created by 9 years of endless social media feedback crack. To books and making and doing and being, unhindered by the need to show + tell + receive.
…I’m rather looking forward to it.
“O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.”
OCTOBER – Robert Frost
Autumn: forever my seasonal boo. It’s jumper and scarves time, crisp walks in the woods time, apple and blackberry crumble with l-a-s-h-i-n-g-s of custard time. Despite the dropping of leaves and the drawing in of nights, autumn is a renewal, a promise of freshness deep into the year.
I know, I know, pretty #basic but hey – I know what I like.
So living in a new climate that is essentially endless spring and summer is – and please, keep those tomatoes to yourself – actually super boring. Every day is t-shirt weather, but never shorts weather unless you’re not leaving your garden, because women here rarely wear anything above the knee. Sticking to things is commonplace. Even with the East African sun I am still not even close to what your average-skinned person would call ‘A Tan’. Heinous of all, I rarely get to break out a jumper, except for every now and then during the rainy season when the heavens open and dump fat, splattering rain onto dusty roads and the floors are briefly chilly against my bare feet.
That said, I actually shivered yesterday in 17º heat because ‘all’ I was wearing was a long sleeved breton, and one made of decently thick material at that. I think I’ve lost all claims to being a Yorkshire woman. Being from Yorkshire is all about never wearing a coat when you’re out-out and not admitting you’re ever cold.
No wait, that’s being 21, sorry.
…I’m missing my autumn something fierce. Though it turns out endless spring and summer don’t necessarily mean avoiding the common cold, with the added bonus of playing But…Is This Malaria? It’s highly unlikely, but we don’t sleep under nets and my blood is like fine wine to the mosquitos of Nyarutarama, so…I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, drink a PSL for me (decaf, soy milk; go the full basic white girl stereotype I beg you) and bathe in the fresh, intoxicating air of autumn. On the last of the sunny days, wrap up, head outside, and lay on a bench under a tree to watch the leaves shaken away in the breeze. Eat chicken noodle soup. Watch You’ve Got Mail (“Don’t you just love New York in the fall?”) and My Fair Lady and Hocus Pocus. Go for runs in the spitting rain and let it cool your hot face. Revel in it. The world is regenerating before us and soon (whisper it) CHRISTMAS.
(^ except this photo was taken in Bruges).
But oh my goodness, get yourself to Ghent. It is beautiful, and dreamy, and everyone should do the free walking tour with Fabian (except maybe not because then we’ll hear the same stories and you might write that novel before I do).
But then do nip to Bruges for a day trip and some more chocolate and stepped rooves and about 5 billion types of Belgisch biere (if you can drink it) and one type of red wine (if you can’t).
In the evening, speed on back to Ghent and your impeccable air BnB and feel glad that you’re escaping the 5 billion tourists drinking the 5 billion types of biere. Nip into Pols instead and try as many types of Jenever as you can handle.
If you’re here in the autumn, wander out to the castle in the mid-morning mist and imagine the Stropdragers parading their ghostly selves through the town…then hole up in a pub to warm up and toast your 11 years of coupledom and all the years of exploring to come.
Dank je Ghent for a beautiful weekend; I can’t recommend you enough!
Before Dunkin Hot Chocolate held the ultimate in my hot chocolate affections (a real thing, rest assured) there was this drink called Chantico. It came out of Starbucks in a tiny size, with raspberry or peppermint syrup (if you wanted). Though it wasn’t long before they pulled it from the menu because, let’s face it, even they balk at what was probably a day’s calories in a cup.
Whenever I think about it I’m ten years in the past, walking through a wintery DC, with John Legend’s music in my head and a cup of this in my hand. Turns out it’s not that hard to emulate: some cream, some milk, some chocolate…voila. A day’s calories in a cup.
It isn’t really cold enough for this yet (and it hasn’t even been rainy enough to crack out the My Fair Lady dvd…what gives, weather?) but I suppose I didn’t let that stop me. It’s a fine accompaniment to the latest books I have on the go…mainly Sherlock and Sherlock spin-offs (“Moriarty” anyone?) as a way of escaping this insane election/brexit/hurricane/Syrian devastation news cycle. Chocolate is indeed a balm when all around you feels just a little bleak.
Lately I’ve been:
- Lamenting the end of summer and easiness (but not so much that I’m not willing sweater weather to arrive, September you are such a tease)
- Spending sunny afternoons with lovely friends, lying in the grass at Richmond Park and discussing everything and anything but failing to get any good photos of the deer
- Getting overly-enthusiastic about Bake Off being back (also read Sue Perkins’ autobiography, can’t recommend it enough)
- Taking a break from accountability (but will be back at it soon)
- Realigning some old loves with my current life (you know what I always hated? Bikinis. Why spend your precious gym/workout time thinking about them? Out they go. Also I never liked having ‘long’ nails, but I now love polishing them, so my stubby nails will be as red as I like. Oh and I no longer will be embarrassed about the fact that almost everything I like is now a Pinterest cliche. Screw it! I shall love those things anyway and decorate this autumn with ALL THE PUMPKINS etc etc)
- Working slowly, slowly towards the development of a passion project <3
- Marvelling that it’s nearly our 1 year wedding anniversary. How!? Wha-! And again, how!?
- Trying not to think about Christmas
- Or how much I would like a rabbit.
- Being basic, cause PSLs baby!
Welcome in, Autumn…I am so ready for you!
When it’s a nice day outside and you should be enjoying it but you have wifi and a TBR pile and cold brew…
In an effort to not spend yet more money on books (having realised I had so many still to read anyway) I pulled all the books off my shelves that I’d either optimistically bought and never read (likely culprits: anything non-fiction) or presents that I really want to read but are hardback, so I had put off reading out of sheer laziness in having holding the things up to my face. Also dangerous: I rediscovered my library card recently, so I’ve been on a library book rampage…
On the TBR list (in no particular order):
Mud, blood and poppycock – Gordon Corrigan
Hack Attack, how the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch – Nick Davies
We remember D-Day – Frank & Joan Shaw
John Yorke – Into the Woods
Animals – Sara Pascoe
Far from the Madding Crowd – Hardy
A History of the Middle East – Peter Mansfield
The Witches – Stacy Schiff
The Post-Birthday World – Lionel Shriver
Where my heart used to beat – Sebastian Faulks
A God in Ruins – Kate Atkinson
Plus on reserve at the library: Maureen Johnson’s Burmudez Triangle, Sophia Amoruso’s #Girlboss and Station Eleven by E. Mandel.
So essentially I shouldn’t be buying any more books for a good three months, right!? Right?! What are you reading at the minute? Give me more recommendations for my library card…
Isn’t this a nice scene while the country is falling down around our ears? Here, have some coffee and a bit of this peanut butter chocolate square (v. tasty).
If you woke up on the morning after the referendum, looked at your phone, and your first reaction was ‘I’m sorry, what?’, then your next reaction may have been to go straight on social media and vent about it.
Much like me. Much like most of my politically-minded friends.
There’s a lot to be said about social media bubbles. They engender a certain level of ignorance, they reflect our prejudices and privileges…and they give us a space to say, ‘oh thank God, you too?’ when something happens that is monumental to us. They also are terrible places for genuine discourse, and often incredibly binary and simplistic. We, all of us, know we’re unlikely to ever change anyone’s mind with a facebook ‘debate’. That doesn’t stop us trying.
I’ve seen a lot of cries of ‘sour grapes!’ from Leave voters who now think the Remain camp are just, well, making a bit of a fuss about the fact they lost this razor-thin vote that may indelibly affect their lives, and they should just essentially shut up and ‘accept’ it. Given the magnitude of what has happened and is continuing to happen, as the two main British political parties are essentially eating themselves right now, I think it is more than justified to be angry.
Even moreso as clips emerge of voters who voted ‘as a protest’ and ‘didn’t think their vote would count’ and ‘would vote remain’ if they could do it again.
Even moreso as evidence of racist behaviour across the UK is surfacing in the aftermath.
Even moreso as those of us who were forced to watch the Leave team conduct a horrifying campaign based on absolute lies, that preyed on xenophobia, and had no genuine ideas for what would happen if we left, now have to watch them turncoat hours after they win and refute that BS ‘£350 million a week to the NHS’ claim, refute the idea that we could possibly go forward without free movement of labour.
Even moreso, when you hear that many leave voters were upset with issues that had absolutely nothing to do with the EU, and also which leaving might make worse. By the way, if article 50 is actually invoked, let’s all enjoy continuing to pay the membership fee you all hated in order to be able to trade with the EU and yet have sweet FA say in the laws they will enact, or enjoy the realisation that we will be unable to stop free movement of people. By the end of it all – if article 50 is invoked – we will literally have done the exact opposite of ‘taking back our country’, whatever that meant in the first place.
When you think about it, if the 48% of the 72.2% who voted and lost weren’t angry, then there’d be something massively wrong with our society in general.
But no, it’s definitely sour grapes, because look at that petition they set up to try and force a 2nd referendum! Pfft. Can’t they just get over the fact they lost?
I’m not personally for a second referendum, but does it change your mind about the derided petition to know that it was set up by a Leave voter a month or so ago, because he thought they were going to lose? Or that Farage said back in May that he would fight for a second referendum because a 52-48 referendum win for the Remain camp would be ‘unfinished business by a long way’? (But now that he’s won, “it isn’t a best of three scenario”?)
But isn’t the worst of it the fact that those people who directed their anger at a lack of jobs, opportunity and perceived failings within the country’s social security safety nets, are now going to get a government that couldn’t give less of a crap about them or their feelings on these subjects? We’ll soon wake up to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet, with our only hope being that Nicola Sturgeon can somehow outmanoeuvre the Brexit. Or perhaps, as the media seem to feel Boris Johnson didn’t actually want a Leave win anyway, it could be the out he (or whoever ends up in that chair) needs in order to not have to invoke Article 50 and come away with some semblance of ‘dignity’ in tact.
Friday’s news has sent me, and most of those in my immediate circle, spinning through several stages of grief. Instantly I wanted to, online, push the space out around me to protect those stages of sadness and anger and denial in the direct aftermath of the news. If you’re keeping a more level head about it, then good for you. We’ll need that in the coming months. But in the immediate fallout of the vote, after a campaign that was so devoid of facts that the Pro-Brexit camp stated that they’d “had enough of experts” (and people actually went with them on that), I am holding square on mine (and other people’s) need to let it all out. There are many various forms of unfollowing and off switches you could push if you don’t want to hear it; it is that simple.
So here I am saying I’m sad for the state of our country right now; I’m sad for the racism that’s coming to the fore, I’m sad that we have no effective leadership in either main party, I’m sad that the drop in the pound makes my life that bit more difficult, I’m sad that people are googling ‘what is the EU?’ too late, I’m sad that the media bile is more readily accessed than informed and reasoned websites like FullFact.org, I’m sad for the people who thought they were voting for something completely different than they have woken up to.
I wish I knew what I could do to help.
But until then, we watch and wait, and eat peanut butter squares and get a sugar rush and blog about it. And hope that if it does all implode, something better can rise from the ashes.
Item number two ticked off the #bucketlistsummer2016 list: visit a National Trust property. Usually, I’d mean a house or castle or somesuch, but as we were in Devon for a wedding, we had the chance to visit my favourite National Trust places of all…a beautiful beach.