Trying to grow…

29 05 2013


Penned a late-night limerick last night – my lovely new ‘phew’s lovely mum asked her Facebook friends to post amusing anecdotes so she had something to read at the 3.30am feed… So I did this:

Trying to grow

That cheeky young lad Henry Joe,
Just wouldn’t stop trying to grow;
He’d wake in the night,
And would yell with great might,
“Mummy feed me, my milk level’s low!”


A Pre-Glastonbury rhyme…

19 05 2013

Hello hello hello!

Yes yes, I know I keep wittering on about Glastonbury, but I’m so excited! Here’s my first festival rhyme – hopefully the first of a few…

The “Stuff for Glasto” Box

I’ve bought my Glasto wellies
And some funky Glasto socks,
They’re nestling nice and cosy
In my “Stuff for Glasto” box.

We’ve ordered us a trolley
With four big and chunky wheels,
Amazing what you find online –
There’s loads of bargain deals!

We’re shopping for a bell tent
Which may sound rather posh –
But better that than five days
In a tiny two-man squash.

I don’t care if it chucks it down
Or if its nice and dry,
The point is just to be there
‘Neath the Glastonbury sky!

I want to quaff the cider
And to get a fake tatoo,
To sing along to Carousel
And use a long-drop loo.

I want to walk 500 miles
Down Salutation Road,
To do it with a rockstar
While my senses overload…

There you go! With hats tipped to The Proclaimers, Martin Stephenson & The Daintees, Amanda Palmer, and my lovely other half Jon Gibbons, who’s umm-ing and aah-ing about taking a guitar or uke – I hope he does, I have a lovely little image in my head of chilling by our tent listening to him playing Carousel…! Give it a listen, it has such a chilled out festival vibe to it!

On lightning and curtains…

16 05 2013

There was a huge rumble a thunder just then, and now it’s chucking it down with rain. The thunder reminded me of two things – something dad used to tell me when I was little, and something I wrote ages ago about a storm – so I thought I’d share them both with you.

I think I’ve mentioned somewhere in my blog about The End Cupboard – a walk-in cupboard at the end of the passage in the bungalow I lived in as a child, that was full of things mum saved (empty toilet roll middles, flattened card from cereal packets, silver milk bottle tops, empty cotton reels…) and how I was rarely at a loose end with such a mountain of stuff to make things with. The downside was that my bedroom was quite often a mess, with finished and half-finished Projects all over the floor. Dad had a sure-fire way to get me to tidy my room when things got really bad – as long as there was a storm brewing. He sat me down once and very seriously explained how lightning didn’t like messy rooms, and if it saw how messy my room was, it’d strike it. The horror! All my Important Projects going up in smoke! For a while it took only the vaguest distant rumble for me to shoot into my room and frantically tidy up. But one day I got a bit clever, and thought “Hang on… If the lightning can’t see the mess, it can’t strike it…” Sadly I was wrong, as Dad pointed out when he popped into my room to find out how I could possibly have tidied up so quickly. Apparently lightning could see through closed curtains…

And now the second thing – I had to leaf through five closely-scribbled notebooks to find it, and I’ll warn you it’s a tad pretentious! I wrote it whilst living in Muswell Hill, at the end of a very hot day in the summer of 1996. I still remember it vividly – whether that’s because I wrote it down, or just because the moment stuck in my mind, I’m not sure. Anyway, here we go…


The End of the Day

The sun’s on its way down now, triggering a feeling of impending release from the oppressive heat of the day. Strange how the sky’s been so clear, but suddenly, when the the sun begins to set, clouds appear from nowhere as if helping the sun on its way down below the horizon.

A pinkyness tinges the sky and a white glow picks out the edges of the pale, fiery fingers of cloud which form a whispy hole around the sun. The sun turns to gold, half hidden behind clouds now, then perfect beams of light – just like the rays you’d draw when you were little – reach out through the clouds, slowly shifting as the sun sinks lower.

Now the pinkyness is getting stronger and brilliant patches of sky – almost pale green – appear in places. The clouds around the sun are getting darker. The whole sky is a wash of pastel shades and vibrant colours, light and dark. Now there’s a slight cooling breeze, but it’s still too hot.

It’s been an irritable day.

A bit later. Something keeps flashing outside. A sporadic police car, perhaps. It’s dark and hot. Looking out the window, suddenly the whole sky in front of you is lit up for a second, so brightly that you can see the clouds again, and the light gives their edges a burning magnesium glow. The image stays in your vision for a few seconds as you blink.

There is no sound.

Then – again, another flash, a bit more to the right. An electric storm! The air is still too hot, the slight breeze not really helping to clear the mugginess the day’s left behind.

The sky flashes a few more times, then – nothing. You think it’s over, the gap has been too long, but just when you’re about to give up and close the blind the sky once again comes alive.

It’s eery – so quiet and still.

Then suddenly, from far away, comes a low rumbling, and almost instantly the slight breeze gets stronger and cools your face.

Another flash.

Then a colossal thunderclap, and a strong gust of wind races down the street, leaping in at the window and making you jump.

And then it rains.

There’s no warning. One second it’s dry, the next the world is a torrential downpour. You put out the lights and hang out the window, turning your face up to the stinging rain, marvelling at the lightning, wincing at the thunder.

Out of the stillness of the sticky day, the storm releases you.

It feels good.

The world is alive again.


See, I warned you it was a bit pretentious!

New words…

12 05 2013

Hands up if you remember the exact moment you learnt a new word as a wee kid…


Most new words seem to just get absorbed unceromoniously, but there’s one word I vividly remember hearing for the first time, and subsequently practising at every opportunity…

I was probably somewhere around the age of five… or six… or seven… I dunno! Anyway, each summer we’d go and stay at our grandparents’ caravan in Anderby Creek, a tiny seaside hamlet in Lincolnshire.

One day we were walking from the caravan site to the beach, along the narrow pavement – the sort of pavement that’s crumbling away on the inside, so you had to watch where you were walking in case you slipped down a crumbly bit. There was a family walking in front of us, and a wee lad (older than I was) put a foot wrong and it slipped off the pavement into the crumbly depths of a nettle-filled hole. He rapidly retreived his foot, and hopped after his family yelling “Ahyuh!”


I’d never heard that particular turn of phrase before, and was mightily impressed.

For the rest of that holiday I tried to use it as much as possible, by pretending to stub my be-flip-flopped toes (“Ahyuh!”), falling over gently on soft sand (“Ahyuh!”), or getting a minor poke or slap from my sister (“AHYUUUUUH!”).

Of course, in later life the word morphed into that popular phrase “Ahyuh b***ard!”…

So there you go, a wee rambling memory for you. I must mention this ramble was prompted by seeing a tweet from illustrator and author James Davies – ta for the memory-jog James!

Locomotion Love

6 05 2013

Evening all!

Well, today’s Crazy Rhymey Challenge threw up a few co-incidences and a memory-jogger… But first, the rhyme…

Today’s Twitter-submitted words were:

@bostonkas: efficacious
@millieweb: cuckoo
@shaggydogyarns: The Duchess
@yorkshire_chris: Mallard

And here’s what my head made of them…

Locomotion Love…

He sighed and felt so very blue –
“I really don’t know what to do,
I love her more with every day,
But she’s so very far away.”

She shed a silent lonely tear –
“Oh how I wish that he was near,
I can’t bear that we’re kept apart,
I fear that it will break my heart.”

Meanwhile outside in the yard,
There stood an efficacious guard;
He pondered on the lovers’ plight
And wondered how to make things right.

Then suddenly he cried, “Cuckoo!
I know exactly what to do!”
And rushing in to find his boss,
He hoped he’d get his point across.

Late that night the lovers dream
Of people, whistles, shouts, and steam;
Through the clamour and commotion
They both dreamt of locomotion…

Next morning when the lovers woke
From dreams of movement, noise and smoke,
They saw in front of them the guard
His eyes a-twinkling, beaming hard.

The reason for their dreams was proved –
They realised that they’d been moved!
And Mallard gleamed with love and pride
To see The Duchess by his side!

So the co-incidences, obviously, are that two random Tweeters submitted words that also happened to be the names of steam engines… And those two engines are in the same museum… And they were moved a while back to be displayed next to each other – so the rhyme had to be a wee love story…!

Confused? This article may help… 🙂

The memory-jogger was “Cuckoo!” – my Grandpa used to come out with it every now and then for no apparent reason… Always made me smile!

But that’s not all – just as I finished the above rhyme, my train pulled into Newcastle Station. And pulling out a few platforms across were a couple of steam engines…

Toot toot!

ps – You can still see both Mallard and The Duchess of Hamilton at The National Railway Museum in York.

Update: A wee tweet received from The National Railway Museum “Beautiful poem. Unfortunately Mallard is currently in York, with Duchess in Shildon but they’ll be reunited again in Feb!”

Alas, the lovers are now even further apart, cross fingers their hearts don’t break before February! And thanks @railwaymuseum for your kind words!

Glastonbury Festival Fever!

1 05 2013


You may have noticed a comment in yesterday’s post about us not getting Glastonbury Festival tickets, then getting them after all. This has left me probably even more excited about going than if we’d have just got tickets straight away in the Sunday re-sale!

So in celebration of this – and because I’ve been working on my festival packing list (!) and there’s only 55 days to go – I’ve dug out something I wrote after our first trip to the festival in 2009. I’ve tweaked it a bit, but it’s basically a wee sort of advice thing for da ladies…


Post-Glastonbury 2009…

I’ve just been to Glastonbury Festival for the first time. I hadn’t been camping for about 16 years but was quite confident I’d got it sussed after reading reams of advice on the Internet on festival survival and what to pack. I thought I’d packed a manageable amount of gear, and that everything would get used…

Silly, silly girl!

Best tip for a girl at Glasto, despite all the stuff you’ll read, is DON’T TAKE TOILET ROLLS! There’s nothing worse than a soggy loo roll in the bottom of your day-bag and it will get wet, even if you put it in a plastic bag. Or you’ll drop it – they do tend to become a little hard to control in a confined space after a few ciders… So ditch the loo roles, and just make sure you have an ample supply of those little packs of tissues. Anyway, if you get caught short, free toilet rolls are given out at the many property-lockups on site. Oh, and take a pack of scented wipes to cover your nose with in the whiffier loos – no, don’t laugh, you will be glad of them!

Shampoo? Soap? Conditioner? Shower gel? Forget it. Maybe a little travel bottle of all-purpose stuff, otherwise just little bottles of anti-bacterial gel for your hands, and lots of baby wipes. You won’t want to queue for hours for a shower, or even for a water tap to stick your head under (and thereby annoy all the people queuing behind you waiting to fill their water containers). There are far too many exciting things you could be doing at Glastonbury than washing your hair!

Camping stove? Nah, don’t bother. Ours got used once for a cup of coffee on day two. Much better to get out of the tent and into the festival site for a cup of proper fair trade coffee than fiddle about in the rain for a cup of instant. Oh, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking “We’ll just take a bit with us, because we’ll go back to the car every day to stock up.” Well, if you really want to spend a few hours every day hiking to your car and back, then fine. Otherwise, take everything you’ll need with you when you leave the car – you can always leave stuff in the property lockups if you’re worried about it getting nicked.

Inflatable mattress? Nope. Have you tried moving around in a two-man tent with a double mattress and two people in it? After a night of getting pinged around the tent each time one of us moved, or rolling over and getting stuck between the edge of the mattress and the side of the tent, we deflated ours after the first night and I swear the bedding rolls were more comfortable. Those inflatable mattresses are blummin’ heavy to carry too. [Update: this year we’re taking a bigger tent and a 4-wheeled trolley, so will probably take the mattress…]

Now, clothes. That’s a little more complicated. I’m a trouser person, but after reading girlie advice on the internet I invested in a cheap short skirt, a couple of pairs of leggings and a few pairs of over-knee socks. Money well spent! The shorts and jeans I’d also packed didn’t even make it out the rucksack! Think about it girls – trousers or shorts and portaloos with muddy (and worse!) floors don’t mix very well. Pop your skirt on, the long socks will stop your wellies rubbing, and stick a pair of leggings in your day-bag in case it gets chilly in the evening. Do leave a set of clean clothes in the car so you can get into something clean on the way home, but don’t leave them at the bottom of the boot and pack all your wet gear on top of them when you leave… Top-wise, just take one for each day and one or two spares. You’ll be far too busy doing festival stuff to trek back to your tent to get changed halfway through the day. Waterproof jackets are a must, as long as they pack down to nothing, are light, and cover your skirt. I stuffed a headscarf in my pack at the last minute and ended up using it often to cover my shoulders when the sun got hot, so I’ll do the same next year; much better than having a spare top with sleeves in your bag. A hat is useful, but next time I’ll probably buy one when I get there – there’s loads of choice and prices weren’t too bad at all.

Footwear wise, take wellies, and a pair of flat comfy boots (like army boots or walking boots) and possibly a pair of comfy sandals to slip on in the morning for pottering round your tent. Oh, and make sure your wellies FIT when you’re wearing one pair of thin socks. Mine are slightly large so I can fit thick gardening socks in them, which is all well and good for gardening in the winter, but a bit on the hot side when the sun’s out and you’re doing a lot of walking…

Once of those collapsible water carriers would have been useful – we had one in the car, but decided we wouldn’t need it, doh! Just because your tent is within spitting distance of the water taps doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to get water whenever you want it – there are these things called Queues that always seem to be at their longest when you’re at your most desperate… A torch in your day bag is useful, but only if you’re planning on getting back to your tent before it starts getting light…

The only ‘luxuries’ I’d take again were (possibly) the camping chairs and (definitely!) my gas hair straighteners to cure morning-curly-fringe-syndrome. My make-up bag stayed in my rucksack and won’t be coming with me next time. I’ll maybe invest in one of those camping towels that pack down to next to nothing, just in case I do end up sticking my head in a bucket of water. And leave a towel in the car to dry off with if it’s raining on the long trek back at the end of the festival. Which reminds me – take something waterproof to protect the car seats from wet and muddy bags and bottoms for the return trip, until you find a service station to get changed in.

Oh yes. Do make sure you put your hangover-busting tablets where you can find them quickly in the morning, like the side pocket in your tent… And take sun-cream with you at all times, not forgetting to put it on before you leave the campsite every morning.

Last but not least (for girls anyway), don’t forget that everything you take – even if you don’t use or wear it – will need washing when you get back, especially if you get caught in a storm on the way back to the car. And if that doesn’t convince you take as little as humanly possible, I don’t know what will…


Maybe one or two things in there will prove useful to someone somewhere!

My biggest dilemma at the moment is finding a way to keep my iPhone charged for the duration, without having to waste valuable hours queuing in the Chill ‘n’ Charge tent… I fully intend to tweet and blog from the festival, and maybe do a Crazy Rhymey Challenge or two whilst I’m there… So all ideas would be very welcome!

Update: Thanks to reviews and comments from the helpful folks at the Glastowatch forum I’ve ordered myself an Anker E4 charger – no queuing at the Chill’n’Charge tent for me this year!