Trains of Thought

Hello again. It’s been a while.

I haven’t posted anything on this blog in 3 years, and after reading a mere few words of a previous post, I have now deleted most of them. Apparently it doesn’t sound like me, which I knew would be the case even before my other half started reading my 3-year-old ramblings. That relates to both how old the posts are, as well as how old past me sounds.

I’ve decided to start almost completely afresh, keeping only 2 of what were essentially 13 badly-written entries in a teenager’s diary. This post marks the beginning of a brand new blog.

Since I was here last, I have graduated from university, been a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding, lost a loved one, attended numerous 21st birthday parties, including my own, figured out who the people who make me happy are, seen my younger sister turn 18, attended the ultrasound of a close friend and seen her baby, found my other half, made friends, lost friends, made connections and cut ties. I could go on – the list is endless, but reliving all of it would take forever.

Right now, I’m in a bit of a limbo situation. I’ve been travelling to and from Exeter from the New Forest at the moment, attending job interviews and working a bit while I’m there (thank you No. 41 residents for putting up with me). I’m also attending rehearsals with the university symphony orchestra to boost the string section a bit, as well as rehearsing with the Argosy theatre company house band, run by some friends of mine which also lead me to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer just passed. I’m doing everything I can, whenever I can, but I’m living week-by-week at the moment, not knowing what’s going to come up. This is not an ideal situation for me, as I am the kind of person that values a diary above some of my own basic human rights.

However, things are beginning to become more stable. I was offered a full time job last week and I’m working a part time job at a housing association. Now all that’s left is to house myself and make sure I don’t run out of money before I can pay my first rent installation.

I am slowly realising that I will have to grow as an adult very quickly in these coming weeks. Still, I’ve learned how to cancel a TV license, so that’s something. I still have the joys of budgeting and direct debit to look forward to.

I’m spending half of my life on trains at the moment, which is either a really good time for some hard-core Sudoku sessions, or a place to have quiet existential crises in the company of total strangers. Probably the latter if I’ve forgotten my iPod. Also I’m writing this on the train. Yeah.

So that’s me done here I think. This is the boring blog to break the ice and for me to use as a visual representation of how my life is going.

Don’t know how good an idea that is…



Old Tales and Songs

Over the past few months, my family has been trying to sell my grandmother’s flat, as she has now moved to a nursing home near to where I live and it would sadly be unwise for her to live alone in the flat any longer. Very recently, said flat was sold and needed to be cleared of my grandmother’s belongings, among which I found the most amazing windows to my family’s past.

I was given the task of sorting through all of the memorabilia and putting it in various boxes, and the first thing I found was instantly familiar to me, even though I had never seen it before in my life… The legendary spatula. My great-grandparents on my grandmother’s side had owned a sweet shop in what seems to me to be the distant past.The spatula that I found is about a yard long and was used to spread hot sweet mixture into sheets on a workbench. It seems like I’m told the same story about the spatula and its background every time I see my grandmother, and it has been this way since I could understand human speech, so to actually find the spatula itself was to say the least a pretty amazing moment in my life. Standing in the dining room of the flat’s tastefully decorated (as has always been typical of my grandmother) and yet strangely empty interior was me, one of the most recent direct descendants of the Soames line, holding one of the oldest surviving artefacts belonging to that line today. I truly had a moment of being Sherlock Holmes, telling the story of the spatula in my head as I clasped it. I also found three pairs of extremely heavy scissors for cutting cooled sheets of sweet mixture into smaller, more manageable pieces, but they didn’t quite match up to the spatula. This occurred almost every time I picked anything vaguely historical up and so needless to say, I spent two very long and happy hours sifting through pure and solid family history.

I found the baby record book that my grandparents filled in for my dad, eldest of three, when he was born, containing a beautiful sketch of him as a baby presumably done by my grandmother. She worked as a commercial artist, trained at the Royal Academy of Art in London, which would explain the two paintings of designer dresses that she herself had hatched whilst designing for the stage. The beauty of the dresses in said paintings leave little to be desired, yet another display of my grandmother’s elegance that both she herself and her art possess. They each depict a model in a dress of mostly green, one representing a heron and the other a peacock. I placed these two paintings in their frames delicately into the largest cardboard box I had and kept sifting.

I came across the sublime and the ridiculous in the next hour or so, including my dad’s extensive stamp collection, with stamps from almost every country I can currently name, including Iran and Malaysia. I also found a golf putter that my dad used to play with, one of my grandmother’s diaries, and my dad actually found my grandfather’s mortar board and gown that he would wear as director of a university in Birmingham.

Dozens of photos were found in the time I spent with my nose happily buried in various record books, photo albums and school reports from the early 1900s, but I stopped dead when I found a large, cream, leather bound album exhibiting the words “Our Wedding”. Before I could open it to discover its contents, my dad and uncle arrived ready to take the boxes I had packed down to the removal van, bringing my attention away from my new find and towards helping to take the boxes downstairs to the truck. I placed the album in an empty box for the time-being and headed off with a full one, but by the time I came back, I had forgotten all about the album.

That is until yesterday. The entirety of my dad’s side of the family, including my grandmother, were settled on the comfy chairs in our living room and sorting, as I had been two weeks before, through the boxes of memorabilia that I had uncovered. One of the very last things to be pulled out of a box was the cream album, at which point it was passed around the room, everyone flicking through until it came to me. I took it from my aunt enthusiastically and proceeded to bury my nose once again in history. I opened the album and saw a black and white photograph of an elegant young woman with a slender aquiline nose and dark brown eyes in a tastefully designed wedding dress. She was standing alongside a man not much taller than her, whose face, as I glanced around the room at my relatives, I could see reflected in at least four inhabitants of my living room, including myself. I knew at once that they were my grandparents on their wedding day. I continued to turn pages with fervent curiosity and every photo in the book almost brought me to tears. My grandfather passed away a few years ago and was the love of my grandmother’s life, so to watch her expression as she turned each page and found set after set of her beautiful wedding photos was unbelievably heart-wrenching. I don’t think I have ever been so touched by a set of photos before in my life, and even after looking through the album three times, I still have to hold back the waterworks.

I love a good story, but nothing prepared my for the real-life tales that all of this memorabilia told me in just two hours of my so-far-short life. The stories that seemed like fairy-tales to me as a child have been realised and embedded in my mind as poignant and emotional. It just made me realise how very little I know about anything…

Toothless Bites, Mouthless Mutters

It’s mid-November and I can tell you now that you know it’s nearly Christmas when the John Lewis Christmas advert is airing and there’s a sudden and horrific transition between fairly balmy air and the bitter scrape of the winter winds (hence the title, taken from “The Hobbit”). The decision to buy cheap gloves from Peacocks was a mistake – should have invested in a decent pair. However, I am definitely not regretting the decision to purchase an extremely cringy Christmas pudding-shaped Christmas hat from Primark with my “red” friend (mentioned in the previous blog), who has got an even more excruciatingly Christmassy Christmas tree hat. We decided quite quickly that we would have to wear them at the same time to prevent feeling weird alone in public wearing this delightful yet idiotic head-gear, Christmas jumpers to match. Despite these awkward festive conundrums, I got really quite excited sitting in the university Costa the other day, listening to endless Christmas number ones from previous years. Mm, spiced apple and mulled wine happiness… and I’m fine with that now that Halloween has most definitely been and gone…

Winter has always been my favourite season. There’s just something about the decidedly miserable weather, rosy cheeks and larger food portions that just warms me up inside. That and the fact that it’s nearly my birthday. January 15th, probably the coldest darned birthday anyone could have, and yet I haven’t woken up a year older and seen snow outside my window yet. Weirdly enough though, my mum told me that it was snowing when I was born, which isn’t really any consolation seeing as I didn’t even know what my own feet were at that specific moment in time. Fun fact: number one in the charts on the day I was born was Cotton-Eyed Joe, which I tell everybody in hearing range whenever I hear it due to my weird amount of pride of something so mundane. Story of my life.

In just under two weeks, I will be performing Verdi’s Requiem with Exeter University Symphony Orchestra, in collaboration with the Choral Society. It’s one of the most magnificent pieces of music that I have ever heard and/or played in an orchestra before, but stress is definitely setting in, seeing as we have extra rehearsals due to the short time left before the concert and also because many of the orchestra members are in their third year of study and have mountains of essay deadlines to meet, resulting in only half an orchestra at almost every rehearsal. It just adds to the joys of winter. Oh well, Christmas holidays are coming up soon and I feel like some weight has been lifted from my shoulders seeing as I just got a first on a piece of coursework that I handed in two weeks ago that I was really worried about. Well done me…