Tuesday, 28 July 2009

what would banksy do?

As we queued for the banksy exhibition in bristol this morning I watched a cheerful big issue seller working his way along the line. He was met with the usual range of reactions from tolerant amusement through being completely ignored to irritation. (To be fair, this was a fairly genial queue and there wasn't any animosity.) I was suddenly struck that anyone in the queue or watching it, including the big issue seller, could be banksy - we could be entertaining banksy unawares! And then I thought, um - sounds familiar...

Thursday, 16 July 2009

star chart - final instalment

Here's the update on the rest of my 50 before 60 manifesto:
33. Continue to explore faith and doubt with my spiritual director: still doing this regularly; in fact I saw her today.
34. Do work filing once a month instead of a marathon when life becomes impossible: have definitely got better at this, but there's a bit of a pile at the moment - this is a good reminder.
35. Make a simnel cake: Yes, did this and reported on it here.
36. Go to cinema once a month: started well on this, but have lapsed of late. There hasn’t been much that appealed to me and there’s no point just going for the sake of it.
37. Finish my "cortona" quilt: I’ve been working on this.
39. Make a range of "earth friendly" cotton shopping bags for the Arts Trail: Yes, did this – reported here.
41. Have a pedicure: this didn’t turn out quite as planned, but Ruth suggested that we should have mutual footcare evenings. She’s having difficulty reaching her feet because of advanced pregnancy and I struggle too because of stiff joints and avoirdupois, so it’s worked out well and means that my feet are getting regular treatment rather than just a one-off.
42. Write up detailed job notes for my successor at work: not started this, but have started talking and planning for the changeover.
48. Reawaken my interest in wildflowers and foster my granddaughter’s existing interest in flowers by teaching her the names of wildflowers and collecting some to press: we have done a little bit of this and started a scrap book.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Recently I’ve been taking morning walks based around the Avon New Cut. It’s a sort of wildlife corridor in an otherwise urban piece of Bristol and there’s a choice of foot and road bridges to vary my walk.
On one stretch of the walk along Cumberland Road I have been puzzled to see several of these:
Plants with little plastic bags placed over the flower heads. I’ve notice four or five of them I think and the bags are on several flower heads on each plant, but not all of them. They seem to be identified with numbers and red dots. What are they for? I’m guessing some kind of research, but what and why?
I think the plant is ragwort, which is highly poisonous to cattle and horses. Not a particular problem where this is situated, but I’d love to know why they’ve been bagged. It could be groundsel which is the same family apparently; I'm not sure. However, I am very curious. Does anyone have any ideas? (Poor quality photos from my phone, I'm afraid)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

star chart two

OK, here's the second instalment of my 50 before 60 progress:
15. Increase loft insulation: this is definitely on the shopping list.
16. Grow some vegetables and herbs: YES! This has been a great experience and we are eating salad leaves from the garden and strawberries and generally watching everything get green and lovely.
17. Take part in Earth Abbey’s GrowZone: I reported on this in May. It was just brilliant and such a great kick-start for the garden. It also means that I’m not being too discouraged by the things that are failing. Quite a number of things have just been demolished by pests and in the past I would just have gone – oh, I can’t do that then, but the group is providing encouragement to put that down to experience and plan for the next harvest.
18. Start a wormery: not done yet, but I have talked to one son-in-law about creating one and am also hoping to do a permaculture course in the autumn which includes stuff about creating wormeries.
19. Make bread once a week: I’m not up to speed on this one, largely because the bread I was making with the Magimix wasn’t turning out that well. A hand-kneaded loaf last week was great, so I’ll have to do a few more of those.
20. Take grandchildren on the miniature railway at Ashton Court: not yet, but maybe when Alice comes down with Dan in August.
22. Read two books a month: This I have achieved quite easily and have very much enjoyed giving myself permission to read lots. I have been recording titles and authors and already looking back can’t remember some of the books I’ve read. Does this mean they were unmemorable, that my memory is bad, or that I should be writing "book notes" as well?
23. One book in five to be a challenge of some kind – maybe a non-fiction book or a classic I’ve never got round to: I’m just about achieving this, but as I said in no. 9 I struggle with anything that isn’t a "story".
26. Conquer lace knitting: this is on my needles at the moment and I’m loving it.
Decided to start with a straightforward rectangular shape rather than the triangular shawl with complicated stitch markers that I was trying last year.
27. Use the screen printing equipment I bought two years ago: well I’ve got it out of the box and used it, but can’t claim to have done anything very special.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

star chart

I’ve had really rather a rubbish week, which has left me feeling bad about myself. I don’t cope well with hot weather and although I’ve been dutifully sitting at my computer most days with the intention of working, I’ve got to the end of each session with very little to show for it and a sense of failure. I therefore decided that I needed to review how I am getting on with the 50 before 60 challenge to give myself a sense of achievement (stars on my chart!).

So here’s a report on the items that have made some progress. I’m doing a few at a time to make the blog posts a more manageable size and the numbers are the numbers used for the original list.

1. Visit Cambridge: this is booked! We’re having a few days in Cambridge and Southwold in August.
2. St Ives holiday with all the family to celebrate our 60th birthdays: this has been booked for about two years! Everyone’s really looking forward to it although we know it will be a challenge with so many small children in unfamiliar beds.
4. Make a daisy chain: I did this for Iris recently and here’s the picture to prove it!
5. Increase exercise to 10,000 steps per day: I haven’t quite achieved this, but I have started doing a 40-50 minute walk 4 mornings a week and increasing my exercise generally.
6. Reduce BMI to a healthy level: Again, not achieved (it’s a long-term project), but I am working on it. I had got really quite worried about my health – not really feeling "well"; breathless, head-achey, hips and knees very painful, funny lights and flashes in front of my eyes – so took myself off to doc and got tested for blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid function, sticky blood, cholesterol. Everything came back fine, but still left me needing to lose quite a bit of weight. As a veteran of WeightWatchers and Slimming World I’m very familiar with the yo-yo scenario – lose weight, put it back on again, lose weight… (you get the picture), so I presented rather a defeatist face to the GP. She was just lovely! Very encouraging; talked about "cycles of change", changing one or two things at a time and encouraging exercise. So I’ve been trying to control my portion sizes, have joined an online diet forum and getting out on the aforementioned walks.
7. Find a tai chi, yoga or pilates class: Yes. I’ve joined a yoga class at the Community Centre around the corner and I’m enjoying it.
8. Practise meditation every day: not every day, but I’m trying
9. Learn more about meditation and other spiritual exercises: One thing I’m doing towards this is going on a conference next weekend organised by Stillpoint in Oxford. Martin Laird has written a book about Christian meditation called Into the Silent Land, which I have tried and failed to read (I am so bad at reading anything other than fiction), so I’m hoping that the man in person will be inspiring.
10. Keep a thankfulness diary: hmm, I do this in fits and starts.
That's the first little chunk. It has already had the desired effect of making me realise that I do get things done one step at a time and sometimes life is rubbish and you have to go with it.