adventures

This Must be the Place

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I managed to write a thing. In the meantime, the usual amount of stuff has been happening. So I’ve been photographing, note-taking and generally procrastinating over the events of the last month or so. Get ready for a mismatched, cluttered, catch up style post. Let’s get this rudderless ship back on track!

Finished Projects

crochet cushion1

This month I made my friends a snuggly housewarming gift in the form of this stripy cushion cover. I crocheted it freehand and immediately started making another so that I could write a pattern to share with you. The #2 is in a brown/purple chunky yarn with some teal accents – noice.

catch up Jun153

The stripy blanket is complete. My magnificent octopus. Every day I see it on the sofa it brings me joy. I have already started the next one. I don’t want to come across as prescriptive, but everyone should crochet a blanket.

catch up Jun152

I also finished making a little vest top from some adorable fabric a friend brought me from Copenhagen. I say finished… it hasn’t had its final press yet, and it is a little too big. I have lots to learn about sewing clothes to fit!

Recorded a demo

Yeah, so.. I’m in a band now? If you follow me on other forms of social media you may already have gleaned this. We have been playing gigs around Sheffield for a few months and thought it would be a good idea to record some songs. We went to Old Pig Farm studios, near Oughtibridge.

recording1

The process isn’t complete yet, but we are well on the way to having some credible material. I hadn’t been in a recording studio for some time before this, but now recall that it is a singular experience (so…much…coffee). Credit to John at the Old Pig Farm for beautifying our folky stylings.

Went to Cumbria – Ate Meat

catch up Jun154

Bank holiday weekend? You bet your ass I went to Cumbria! And it was beautiful, despite a rather harrowing journey northwards, including 3 trains and a bus from Oxenholme (via Kirby Lonsdale. Seriously). My visit was the usual heady mix of being very well looked after, sitting in a range of comfy chairs and looking at the sea. Blissful. This time I didnt make it into Carlisle -sorry Carlisle – but I’ll be back before too long.

Bishops House

catch up Jun151

Things have been busy for me at the Museum of late, I’m now on the committee which runs the museum and have taken on some new responsibilities. We have welcomed a couple of different groups to the house for visits in the last month and I couldn’t be happier with the feedback. We have also had the pleasure of hosting a postgraduate intern who has been extremely helpful and positive – I’ll be sad to see her go!

So there you have it, now we are all up to date. Thanks for reading!

Computerspielemuseum, Berlin

Welcome to the second of my posts reporting back on our trip to Berlin. The Computerspielemuseum (computer games museum) was second on our ‘must visit’ list after the Zoo. As a young child I was not totally sold on games and consoles (with the exception of Tetris on the Game Boy of course) but as an adult I have cultivated a love of computer games that any 12-year-old boy would be proud of.

One of Berlin’s more alternative museums, this one has its home on the huge and imposing Karl Marx Allee, very close to where we were staying in Friedrichshain. Arriving before the museum opened, we wandered around a nearby graveyard and enjoyed a cup of coffee in the sun.

Being a bit of a traditionalist, I didn’t want to take any photographs inside the museum, but it was pretty much as you would expect it to look – a modern space with a slightly industrial feel, a colour scheme of greys combined with acid neon, and everything wall mounted in squarish boxes. All of the interpretive text was written in German and English, with a concise and engaging style and plenty of high quality images and quotes.

The range of interactive exhibits is really impressive, including a small arcade containing original working machines which are playable for free. I was particularly impressed by an entire wall dedicated to groundbreaking games both good and bad, which could be previewed by aiming and firing at the relevant item using a joystick.

Though the majority of the interpretation had a global focus, due attention was paid to gaming during the GDR in the form of Poly-Play – a colossally expensive arcade machine with a variety of games. The one I chanced upon had me shooting deer in a rather sparse coppice. Enchanting.

We paid about 13 euro for two tickets (1 adult, 1 student) and it was worth every penny. A unique experience and very enjoyable – my face on this embarrassing photo with the life-size Link says it all.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium

Thus commences my short but sweet ‘Tales of Berlin’ series. Our first port of call was the zoo and aquarium, which both Finn and I were pretty excited to visit, after a wildly successful trip to Blackpool Zoo during a freezing cold weekend in Lancashire (during which we saw several monkeys push a capybara into a lake – classic).

Berlin zoo was built in 1844 and both zoo and aquarium hold a vast collection of species. The fine day in September was the perfect opportunity for some animal squees and the chance to play with some different settings on my camera. Having paid a whopping 18 euro each for a joint ticket, we were determined to get our moneys worth and spent the whole of our first day there, although much of it was spent searching for bears, only to find that hey were all asleep or sad. Silly bears…

Highlights included the very content looking hippos, beautiful seals and oodles of jellyfish behind magnifying glass. The puffer fish was wonderful too, giving us the sexy eye while pressing its bony little mouth up against the side of its tank.

I always feel mixed about the zoo experience, as it’s a real privilege to see these animals up close, but it clearly compromises their lives which is a bit rubbish. A good case in point are most of the wading birds we saw, all of whom had one of their wings clipped. They did not look happy. Having said that, most of the creatures were in prime condition – the tigers looked very content, as did the majority of the primates, many of whom were looking pleased with their very teeny young. We enjoyed the window into the feeding of everyone, seeing a keeper chainsaw up some meat for the big cats was pretty exciting.

Berlin Zoo had been in possession of a giant panda for many years, whom I was very excited to meet (see my twitter feed for many-a gush about pandas). Unfortunately, he had passed away in 2012 and so I stood outside his empty enclosure and had a moment of silence.

And of course, as our energy waned, we consoled ourselves with a delicious beer, noting with much relish its availability within the grounds of the zoo. A merry day indeed, until we drove ourselves insane trying to find the exit.

Have you visited Berlin Zoo?

the mark of a healthy hippo is its glossy posterior

the mark of a healthy hippo is its glossy posterior

yawing sea lion

yawning sea-lion

tiger on its high rock

tiger on its high rock

the 'big cat meat cutting' saw' it it's own special butcher's enclosure

the ‘big cat meat cutting’ saw’ in its own special butcher’s enclosure

Hypnotic jellyfish

Hypnotic jellyfish

The guitar fish seemed pleased to make our acquaintance

The guitar fish seemed pleased to make our acquaintance

My favourite of the day - so charming

My favourite of the day – so charming

Just beetles casually enjoying some potato

Just beetles casually enjoying some potato

This gorilla lady had a lot of sass

This gorilla lady had a lot of sass

Brown Bear looking curious

Brown Bear looking curious

The reward for a hard day's animal gazing

The reward for a hard day’s animal gazing

Life Lately – plus 5 things

Been a while, no? Since last I wrote, there has been a birthday, an embroidery class, the start of a new job, a crochet bag, a reading of Mansfield Park, rehearsals for a gig, ENDLESS dishes and laundry and a fair amount of coffee. So many things have occurred that there was barely any time to document them all.

But here I am, equilibrium restored, hoping to bring you the next few instalments, makes and plans in a timely manner. Lets get back up to speed quick smart with a selection of things that have been bringing me joy in the last couple of weeks. Some are craft related, some are just generally great. Hope you enjoy this little window into my favourite things.

stitch boom bang: If you like 80s pop culture and embroidery, you will love this blog – It never fails to delight. The writer/ maker has just done a show and it looked excellent. My particular favourites are the representations of Nicholas Cage, which capture his doe-eyed vacuousness so accurately. I also love the writer’s quest to make a crochet hat for every Cosby sweater in order of appearance. Genius.

attic 24: Loads of crochet inspiration here, along with great photography and really helpful tips and tutorials. You can also buy yarns selected by the writer of this blog here. (yes I did purchase some. they make me happy). The writer Lucy also shares my love of coffee which is pleasant to note.

MAC lipstick in Lady Danger: Because it makes me feel like a really brilliant woman.  I shan’t worry about what kind of feminist this might make me, because it doesn’t really matter. Red lipstick is awesome! But there is something special about this one – it’s cult status is well deserved. It is so vivid and matte, staying put for hours with minimal ‘all over the face’ smudging. I’ll be wearing this shade well into my 70s. Here’s this dodgy thumbnail to illustrate its power.

lipstick selfie

Avatar: Lagend of Korra: Tears were shed during the season finale of this show. We all thought that The Last Airbender couldn’t be bettered, but it was at least equalled by this story arch. I have aspirations to make a few of the characters from this show as amigurumi figures, especially the animals (sky bison, I’m looking at you). It’s no secret how much I love cartoons and this is no exception. Watch it here.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Classic game, hours of fun. And a few hours of staring up the butt of the same dungeon until you figure it out. On the 3DS I only turn on the 3D for the cut scenes, otherwise it hurts.

Next week we are off to Berlin, so stay tuned for pictures of beer and architecture.

 

The Quest for Mental Wellbeing

I’ve had periods of depression since I was 11. There was one lonely summer holiday before my first year of secondary school spent listening to The Great Escape by Blur and riding around on my bike crying. I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what it was or how to fix it.

Since then, I have experienced depression in a variety of ways and in lots of different situations, trying many-a strategy to overcome it or ‘let it go’. Having counselling and CBT, taking medication, meditating, acupuncture, travelling, working, studying – but it’s always there, with it’s own unfathomable rhythms, like a menstrual cycle you can’t interpret or predict. 

Dealing with depression is something many of us do, but I feel like it’s such an intangible, changeable thing that everyone who feels it should be able to voice this frankly, without incurring judgement. Easier said than done, especially in certain circumstances, which was the impetus for writing this post.

‘Struggling through’ is a phrase I have often used about my life – through A Levels, undergraduate degree, MA and full time work. Each one of these goals, though I have attained them (sometimes just barely) – has left me broken and required time and energy to recuperate afterwards. I know that there are times when depression has affected my work and that asking for acceptance and understanding has been complicated. Medication and cognitive therapies have helped, but only enough to get me over the next hurdle. There is still a whole mess of shit to wade through after it is all over. When I can stop pretending that everything is ok.

 Working for myself means learning to be with my mental state in a new way. There is only me to answer to now, so if I’m not fit to work, I don’t. That seems to be helping me to feel like a stronger person – and who knew? I’m not lazy or work shy. When working, I’m really working (it’s 2.50 a.m. as I write this). There is no need for guilt about backing out or letting the team down. I am the team. 

Of course, the downside to this is that at present, I can’t pay the bills. And there are lots of good things about the profession I chose, which I do miss. But, there is something to be said for feeling stronger, working harder, just doing it for me.

Feeling ready to accept that depression is an aspect of my life seems important, having dealt with the consequences of failing to do so. Things will change, I may end up back in employment other than my own, but I am more likely to be assertive and candid about my mental health now, rather than skating on thin ice until falling through. If and when that happens, I’ll tell you all about it.

Thank you for reading x