Wednesday, 30 January 2013

115. A cake with cream

Mmm… so… perhaps I haven’t properly updated this thing in a while… perhaps I should? Yeah, go on then…

I’m currently back at Bosavern Community Farm just outside St Just (Cornwall, naturally!). Only here for a week this time rather than last years 6 weeks – would have been longer except for a couple of things came up (one of them being Burns Night… can’t go without a non-veggie haggis for a second year running!!), and the other being that my parents are coming down for a night as we all have to go see a solicitor… because I’m getting a house! Crazy stuff.

On the house note…
So maybe for a little while I had been whingeing to certain people about “OHHHH I just want a house! I want a wardrobe! A DESK!!”… This is fair enough, towards the end of the season at Perranporth the insides of my van were going a little not so pleasant (various things under the bed had gone kinda fluffy with mould), but I wasn’t in all seriousness thinking of ACTUALLY getting a house! For starters, I definitely don’t have enough money to straight out buy one, and rent wasn’t really ideal as some months I earn far less than I’d prefer. So I was pretty much geared up to the thought of another season in the van, with the beautiful sunsets in the slightly warmer months, the nice cosy bed hearing the rain battering down on the roof, and hearing the sea on the base of the cliffs. That’s fine, yeah. Fine. I might just have to get rid of a bit more stuff… I mean, who really needs 10+ pairs of shoes (mostly boots)? Of course it was still one day a dream to have a house… the desk… the wardrobe… perhaps a full length mirror so I can actually see what I look like, rather than constantly looking like, well, someone who lives out of the back of a van! A girl can dream.
But then! I got home to my parents place after travelling a little in November, and my mum tells me that she’s been looking on a property website (Zoopla?) for months (years?!) for a property in Falmouth – both she and my sister Ellie sometimes sail into Falmouth, and it’s an ideal location to get to everywhere else in Cornwall / the rest of Britain (as in, it has a train service…). Dad wasn’t convinced, he’s never been much of a fan of Falmouth (like the rest of us) and seemed to think that if he ever got a house in Cornwall it’d be somewhere more rural perhaps… mineshafts and suchlike for him to grin at. But anyway! Mum found a house. To cut a long story short, we booked a viewing at this house and within a few days we were zooming down the M25/M3/A303/M5/A30 etc on our way to Falmouth for a night (we actually stayed up at Perranporth… met Phil’s new girl! She seems nice… hopefully better than the previous years one!!).
The house was nice enough… certainly in a good location (right by the church – I’ll know the time from 8am till 10pm! Donging every hour (more on Sundays & special occasions!) a relatively modern build (80’s) and so not as pretty as perhaps some of the houses on the street but functional. But I like it. Little east facing garden (the neighbours have a hot tub!), garage (though not sure if Hector will fit in…!), and three bedrooms. One for me. At the top of the house.
So that is that. I hope to move in mid-February. Wow, that’s pretty soon.

But yes, it’s all very exciting! I’m wondering how my room will look – want to paint part of it green. What desk I’ll get (sadly the one I left at Marine Crescent has disappeared. Jezza said, “no one wanted it!” which is rather hard to believe… but whatever. There are more desks out there). Already got a nice matching red kettle & toaster for the kitchen… eee! A house!
The only real downfall I can think of is that it’s in Falmouth, and my job is in Perranporth so I’ll have to commute 30 minutes there and back, and I’ll have roughly 5 hours to kill in the middle of each day up at Perranporth. There was no option of living in Perran… no no no. I reckon in the summer I’ll remain van dwelling again, too much tourist traffic to beat to commute every day and I’ll be working longer / harder. So I’ll still get my sunsets every so often. If the sun ever occurs again in the summer (at the end of work today, I stood on top of a hummock by the compost toilets (niiice) and soaked up sunlight with my face. Not a cloud to be seen. Take a hint, summer!!!).

So yes. House.
On a brief note, just in case anyone is currently thinking “golly, what a turd! Getting a house! What a fancy pants…” I am NOT bragging! I’m just very excited. I could keep everything very quiet, and never tell anyone that I’ve got a place to live which isn’t Hector the van, but no. If no one ever told anyone of his or her excitement, then… well. We’d just have to tell everyone of our misery. And constant misery / monotony is BORING. Boring boring boring. So there. And I’m very sorry if you find my excitement offensive in any way.

Anyway… house related stuff out of the way (for now).
Yaaaaay Bosavern! It’s so lovely coming back here to stay for a little while…
Things have changed slightly over the last year; of course I’ve nipped back on odd occasions but only ever really to see the pigs / chickens etc, and to show the place to friends. The piglets of last year have departed (although not in the originally intended way! They were going to become sausages and bacon, but something came up and so they were sold as pigs, to be kept as pigs, not food. Bye bye Horace, Lowenna, Ginger, Popo, and Blue). There are now another lot of piglets called… something and The Spice Girls. This slightly less personal group of names is due to the fact that there are 6 piglets; one is black & white and the other 5 are ginger and almost impossible to tell apart. 2 male, 4 female. So the ginger piggies are the Spice Girls.
Ebony the big mummy pig (sow) is also still around, she and the piglets live in with the chickens now, and then there are the two boars (one chopped) living in a different field. Butch and Barney.
The chickens are also all change… the original 300 have decreased to… 0 (some died, and then the rest got too old to lay and so got done in one by one and incinerated. There was a call out to see if anyone would like to take them on, whether as food or friends, but no. So… incineration. Bye bye Carla, bye bye Bobble, bye bye chicken with huge great comb that pretends to be a cockerel. Bye bye the rest of you… I hope your ashes still remember me constantly singing ABBA to you). There are now 98 new fresh chickens, and perhaps another 200 to come. This lot are far more inquisitive, constantly surrounding you and pecking your Wellies (in a very friendly manner).
The rest of the farm hasn’t really changed too much apart from certain areas that have pretty much turned into swamp due to all this rain we’ve been having for… the majority of the past year.
Otherwise, exciting things are happening here, but I’ll leave that till later if I remember.
Lovely bunch here at the moment… of course there are Hugh & Alice, and then there is Sarah from Norfolk/everywhere, and Evelin from Austria/Vienna.
I’ll be leaving on Saturday, but not without my veg box! Certainly something to rival those veg boxes from Riverford Organic who ship in fruit & veg from other countries far away… it isn’t supposed to work like that! LOCAL organic food!
Food here at the farm is always exciting… it’s quite a challenge cooking vegetarian since I’m not usually one, and so I’m always learning.
Yesterday Sarah cooked crispy baked Savoy cabbage and kale, with a sort of stir-fry stew based on a large amount of Pac-choi and some rice noodles. The day before it was my turn to cook… cheated a little and used mostly tinned / non-fresh ingredients though. Bean and lentil savoury crumble (with a cheesy sagey topping) with extra virgin olive oiled pearl barley. Day before that Evelin baked a superb chard pie (such good pastry!) and leek risotto. You get the gist. Good grub. So good that my poop has been coming out much greener than usual. Mmm. I’m always excited for suppertime here (then again, am I ever NOT excited for food, in general? Haha. Fatty!).
I wish I had the stamina to always eat like this, but sometimes it’s just so much easier to eat boring pasta with cheese. Lets see if I can continue it for a little longer once I leave here & go back to Arnolds.

Yes! Arnold’s. I’ve been staying there since early January, I’m glad his housemates Phillipa & Luke are being nice enough to put up with me too (I’ve been trying to be good! Doing the washing up for everyone, not using too much water… though as if that was ever a problem, with my showering tendencies!! Not long now, never fear). I hope it’s been helping Arnold a bit… he’s been so busy with his newish job & also his Masters degree (photography & the landscape – ooerr!) so I’ve been doing supper and suchlike. But now doubt he’ll sleep better when I’m not there, what with my “trampolining in my sleep” habit. Sideways trampolining, of course. Otherwise I’d be more impressed. When I do get my house, I’ll only be just across the road (literally… we’re somehow both number 2 on the same road).
Although Arnold has been crazy busy, we’ve been trying to get out on little adventures at weekends… meanders around Kennell Vale, finding all the cameras he hid back in October (Golant woods), picking mussels at super low tide on the Helford, scrummy yummy meals out at the newly done up Pandora Inn near Mylor… etc. (I had buttery scallops on smoky grilled salmon, 4 good sized Mylor pigeon breasts with a horseradish mashed potato, and for pudding a Baked Alaska! Exciting times, strangely I’ve never had one before!).
Roll on warmer weather and longer days (AND MORE SUNSHINE!!!).

And did you have a good Christmas? That appears to be the question I’m asking people the most at the moment (volunteers at the farm who I haven’t seen in a while. Admittedly most of the answers are something along the lines of “oh, I don’t do Christmas. I’m a Buddhist”) (ok, so maybe only one of the answers).
I had quite a nice Christmas! It was certainly different…
For one thing, I wasn’t in Norway (though I did visit Norway in November, more on that later). Another thing, I wasn’t in Tenerife! My other “normal” Christmassing area! So where the bloody hell was I?
Well, I was in Reigate. My home town. At my parents.
Wow. That’s a start.
Christmas was a very quiet affair – just myself and the parents plus my sister Elk’s teddy bear Scruffy at the table. Elk is away on a silly fancy pants boat near Monaco for the time being (on her forced gap year / experience year from uni), and she couldn’t come home for x-mas and so for the whole time when I was home I was photographing Scruffy in various festive situations (making mince pies, storing sprouts between his legs, terrorising robins, etc) and sending them to her. So that is why he joined us at the kitchen table for Christmas lunch. Not that this would be deemed unusual for anyone who knows what our household is like (it used to be LIVE hamsters on the table at supper, pinching meatballs off of plates!).
I got a few things for Christmas… from my parents I wasn’t expecting a thing, after all – a house is occurring! So I was pleasantly surprised when I got a shoebox full of a large and beautiful array of embroidery silks (originally my grannys, mum salvaged them from her house when she died years ago) along with some tights (always good, since my old tights are more ladder than tight) and a box of M&S peppermint creams. Mmmmm.
From Arnold I got a niiice wooden Victorian writing desk (the sort which looks like a wooden box, but you can fold it out). It has the original green leather table area, the original glass ink wells, and then under the table bit are a couple of storage areas as well as a couple of TOP SECRET drawers for TOP SECRET things! (Like rude love letters! Hehe). This box was filled with a couple of interesting books, a bottle of Arnold’s homemade blackberry whisky, and other such lovelies.
From my granny I got a good little cheque.
On Boxing day my granny (dads side) came over, and we mostly sat slightly awkwardly trying to make conversation, and then resorted to doing a puzzle.
The rest of December and early January was mostly filled with me milling about the house feeling exceedingly tired (it’s the central heating / more polluted air due to Gatwick/London/M25 effect) or getting drunk with Imy & Jess… usually in The Cage in Reigate. I never knew this place had an upstairs or toilets until December. Fun times were had! Fun times indeed! This includes New Years Eve, which was held at Jess’ house. Reminded me of old times… but BETTER! I impressed myself by walking home from there at 3:30am, 2.5-3 miles in half an hour. Yessss.
Of course these weren’t the only two things I did, I also met up with Tanzee and Jenny and Matt and the Lads and all sorts of people! With the Lads we played a brilliant array of games, including hide & seek in the dark (never too old to play that) and Squeak Piggy Squeak. I always do miss my Surrey lot. So much! Although I’m not sure my liver misses you, Imy!!

Since we’re going in a reverse chronological order, I may as well tell you (though likely in brief) of my November travels. 11th-18th November I was in Holland with Imy. For the first 4 nights we stayed at the Flying Pig Uptown backpackers hostel… this was super, really fun place. I had slight difficulty keeping up with Imy though! On some of the days we met up with Silje & Alex (also stayed in Amsterdam for a while) and did all the normal touristy things such as museums (Sex Museum!!) Red Light District on a Saturday night, nibbling probably too many cheese samples in the cheese shops, and, of course, the coffee shops.
Wow, haha… I’ve never got so confused and disorientated in such a funny way. 2 hours to walk a 20-minute trip!
After Amsterdam we jumped on a (double decker!) train to Delft. Delft is most famous for it’s blue and white pottery and suchlike… I kind of prefer Delft to Amsterdam as it is smaller but still has all the architectural charm (if not more). Things aren’t so rushed, and it isn’t quite so full of stoned tourists just looking for another coffee shop or red light. We stayed at Jorplace backpackers hostel for the night (triple decker bunk beds!) and met up with a friend I met at Perranporth, Jeroen! This was around the time of Mickelmas, something related to Christmas and based around children eating a ridiculous amount of sweets and suchlike. Jeroen gave us each a bag of goodies, which was so nice and unexpected, and took us to a local bar, which seemed more like a pub. Plenty of local beers to try (all with those weird big frothy heads) and afterwards Imy & I clambered onto a statue and had the police stop next to us. Notice I say “stop”. They didn’t say anything… just sort of rolled up in their car & stopped next to the statue. This obviously made us get off. Isn’t that nice and polite? Haha! Polite! The police over there are called “politie”… not actually because they’re so polite, but because that is how the word has been translated. But everyone over there IS polite… police or not.
The next day we re-visited our favourite bagel shop (bagels are the way forwards there… especially when topped with gooey goats cheese, honey, walnuts, and a little rocket salad). Bagel shop was goooood… nice and warm. Outside was cooooold. We sat out there drawing for a while and had loads of school kids come up to us and ask “are you French?”. Who knows.
We soon jumped onto a train to Rotterdam (another double decker! Excitement maximus!) and arrived, then went to find out hostel. This hostel was the Rotterdam HI hostel near station Blaak… however upon arrival we were told that we were meant to have stayed there the night before! WHOOPS! And bugger. But oh well! They pointed us in the direction of a backpackers.
I have to admit, I was pretty grumpy… I wasn’t much enjoying Rotterdam due to my love of Delft, and also because Rotterdam is a bit of a concrete jungle as it was bombed loads in the war (like Plymouth). Concrete just isn’t my thing. Sorry Imy, for my grumpiness. We found the hostel (Hostel ROOM backpackers) and YAY they had a room for us, a highly oddly decorated room (like a zoo…) but a room non the less! Dumping our stuff Imy dragged me out on a walk of the city. I grumbled. I suppose my hangover didn’t help matters. Rotterdam thankfully turned out to be so much more interesting that originally thought… the architecture there, although very concretey and different to the traditional Dutch style, was very well thought out and very modern art! Buildings were crazy shapes, and the streets were much easier to navigate (although perhaps this was because Imy & I weren’t high as kites as we’d been in Amsterdam. Note: I could be being cautious and not revealing the fact that Imy and I “partook” in OH NO! Drug use! But that would be silly. I’m fully for the legalisation of that particular herb, not so I can constantly be sitting grinning silly in a corner, but because I really don’t see how it is any worse than the use of say alcohol, tobacco, or even caffeine. All of these things if used in moderation can be good for the individual, of course there will be those who take the piss and go overboard, but there will be someone who does that with anything. There are far worse things for us and the law to be worrying about! Follow the example of those two states in America which have just legalised, and stop being silly!
ANYWAY… where was I.
So yes! This city turned out to be far more interesting that I first imagined.
That evening Imy and I sat down with a group of other people staying at the hostel and played a drinking game, I left Imy with them (as she was having so much fun! *eyebrow wiggle*) and so went and met up with Jeroen by myself, we ended up in an Irish pub with sawdust all over the floor… how ye olde!
The next morning! Hangover central (or I could be Dutch… centraal!). Jeroen was being insanely nice and generous and so picked us up in his shiny fancy electric car thing. We put Imy in the back… she was hanging far worse than me. We then drove out to the big sandy beaches of Holland, they go on for miles and I can imagine in the summer they’re really nice! They were still nice, but cold. And windy. But this helped the hangovers. After the beach we went on to see the huuuuuge dam which stops Holland from flooding too much, and then we got dropped off at a train station. A lovely day! What a shame that we couldn’t actually see much as for the majority of the time there was thick fog… haha!
Onto the train (…double decker…!) and with only minor mishaps we arrived back in Amsterdam.
The plan for this night was to go to some party of a friend of Imy’s, this is why we got ourselves booked into the skankiest hostel ever as it was near to the party location! THANKFULLY it was only one night, and we’re still alive to tell the tale so it can’t have been so bad. But it WAS right upstairs from McDonalds. Oh dear. And I did feel very, very, very, very, very uncomfortable. Maybe this is just because I’m used to hostels. But no. I think I had a pretty good reason to feel uncomfortable…! Our plan changed! We never got to the party. Instead, we went to the Red Light District on a Saturday night and found ourselves a couple of prostitutes.
I joke.
We just looked and giggled (some had very, erm, bulgy packages).
We then went on to our favourite coffee shop (Hill Street Blues – the less dark and dingy of the two). By this point I was adamant that I could definitely find our way back to the hotel, after all – it was far closer to get to than the Flying Pig, and I was like, sooo much better with high map reading as the week went on.
What a lie this was.
It again took us a million years to find the hotel again (even though it was really close to Centraal station, but then again, in our state every single building looked like Centraal station!), but we got there in the end.
That night I went to sleep with ear plugs in, so I wouldn’t hear if any murderers entered our room in the night. I’d rather die without a panic prior to it.
The next day… our final day. No more nights.
I was pretty much ready to go home by this point… thankfully the day was nice and sunny, so we went for a stroll around previously un-explored areas of Amsterdam, sat and watched a Mickelmas parade for a while, found the cheese shop which we’d visited with Silje & Alex at the beginning of the week (but for various reasons had never been able to find again) and finally sat in a square, finishing up the remaining little end of our last item of what is illegal in Britain, and being sleepy.
Fast forward a few hours, and after the most confusing airport ever (Schipol), we were home in Surrey again.
A question from Imy’s dad as her parents collected us from the station:
“Did you take all the drugs in Amsterdam?”
“Not all”, I replied.
No point in lying.
In short, Holland is a lovely place… sexy architecture, crazy friendly people, great cheese, but sadly no hills or any area of great geographical note. But other countries have that, so it’s fine. Mmm Holland.
Thank you Jeroen, for showing us about more than we would have looked about ourselves. An insider is always useful (except for when in Morocco. Then it’s just bloody expensive).

A couple of days after my return from Holland I was off on a plane again! This time, to Stavanger (Norway) once more! Off to see my Romeo (Silje), and of course Rarrarrarr. And you, Alex. I suppose. And everyone else who I see in Norway, such as Silje’s family.
This wasn’t really meant as travelling, more of just a visiting friends and relaxing, which is what happened. The only thing different this time to previous times is that I stayed in Silje & Alex’s ground floor flat as Silje no longer lives with her parents! (This was a slight sadface for me, as I love staying at the parents place! They’re such wonderful people, Annette is so lovely and amazing at decorating the place in an appropriate way for the season, and Birger is the best chef in the world ever and also a lovely…) but at least staying in the flat meant I didn’t get fat. And we visited the parents anyway. So it’s all fine. And I got to eat stickmeat again (I got some to take home to Surrey… we ate that when Arnold came up to visit. My parents & Arnold were not overly impressed by Norwegian food. I scowl at them for this. But hey ho, I got to eat more stickmeat).
Norway was mostly filled with mooching about, going to the cinema, Geocaching, a party, and talking to the cat. Nice and chilled. A good change from the previous week of madness in Holland.

So that’s the end of my travels for now! Where to go next, I wonder… current thought is Portugal. Not been there yet. Nice and warm. But not such an extreme warmth as Morocco, haha.

Illustration wise? What have I done? Well… not much and loads at the same time.
Not much, because of my lack of desk. Loads, because I did a commission for the blimmin’ DAVE MATTHEWS BAND!
Ok, perhaps I shouldn’t be saying that so excitedly as I don’t actually really know who they are, and upon much needed research I found that their music isn’t reeeeally to my taste… but other people have been very VERY impressed with me for getting this commission, and I’m pretty chuffed too. It’s big.
Especially because they’re supposedly the 10th highest paid musicians in the world.
So yeah… I’ve done a couple of t-shirt designs for them. Nothing mega! No album art! But you never know, they might want more from me. One day…
One the mention of album art, I won a competition of designing album art for local Falmouth band the Klezbians (Jewish Gypsy music). That’s nice.
Yay for me!
Now slowly working up to sending stuff out to agents, AGAIN. Maybe first I should do some fresh new work, I’m not sure I can base my wow factor simply on a DMB commission.
And no… I don’t fancy working freelance right now. Lets start off with an agent. If they want me.
I can always go freelance once I’ve finished my contract with any agent I get. Yeeeahhh.

Anyway, I had better shut up now! I can smell that supper is nearly ready (Hugh is cooking tonight) and I NEED A WEE.
plus I’ve written roughly 4500 words on this so far. I’m sure anyone reading these words wasn’t originally ready for an essay.

Wow, tomorrow is the last day of the first month already… whoosh.

I’ll leave you at that. Bye bye!

Monday, 22 October 2012

114. Tweed is on the scene

I've been inspired by Silje, to make a Christmas list. I never write Christmas lists... partly because I likely won't get anything on it, but also because I don't really have a load of stuff that I actually want!
But I'm scoured my mind & my saved lists, and so here is a list.

And so it starts here, with the thing I'd like the most...
I'd really, REALLY like a fold up desk (with a few little drawer-tidies!) for my van Hector. Of course these are utterly lovely, but since a) my van has slanted walls, and b) it's a rather small space, it'll have to be hand made. And lightweight. Anyone with any grand ideas?

Van-wise, I'd also like a leisure battery fitted so I could have real electicity in Hector... just for little things such as charging my phone, laptop, and camera, plus having some actual decent lights rather than my little LED 3 AAA battery push spotlights (they're getting veeery dull, but it's nice to know that the current batteries have lasted me the whole YHA season!). I've been told that theres a place which does this in Longdowns, Cornwall, but it's kinds hard to find...

Clothes! (Oh no! Not MORE material posessions!). My top half being GB size 14-16, the bottom half being size 16.
This lovely embroidery has caught my eye... and it looks like it'll fit my wide shoulders, too!?
Here are a selection of delicious items from Toast. Me me me me me me me me me!
Foxy loveliness here and here... (admittedly I might just get the t-shirt myself... before it disappears... so if you really want to get me this, ask first) and also here...
Nice GREEN top.
Yeah, man.

Random things...
These are cyooot! But I'm not entirely sure what I'd do with them... they're more the sort of thing I'd give to someone else and expect them to squeal too? I like that they're TINY. I like tiny things.

Slightly cheaper, my one girly vice... nailvarnish.

Other things I like, include hand knitted socks (proper wool!!), knitted hats (though ask me for style directions first... bit fussy), a patchwork quilt.
Giftcards for somewhere like Homebase, so I can acquire useful DIY stuff for the van.
Silver rings (actual silver). Sizes N & M are good. They're the only ones I can remember.
Gold rings, if you're feeling generous (again... actual gold. I don't want green fingers).
Earrings which won't make my ears green or itchy.

Favourite colours being rusty orangey reddy brown, and sludgy green... but mainly just earthy colours.

You know, I can't think of anything else. There probably is something, but I don't NEED anything!

Things which I like but aren't really that useful in a van and I don't really want (due to the lack of use):
-More cookbooks
-Stuff to put in kitchens
-Wash stuff
-Stuff you might put in an actual house
I'm sure you understand.

May add to this later, perhaps in a different colour.

Friday, 14 September 2012

113. I can see the seeeeaaaa...

4th September

Wow I’m tired. Still. Been tired for days actually, perhaps it’s the oncoming of autumn… the weather has certainly been getting much fresher (not that it was ever particularly hot & stuffy this Summer, except for my explorations into Morocco). But yes, autumn is coming. WINTER IS COMING. But lets just think of it as autumn for now… not prepared for winter yet.
I do quite like this time of year though… it’s still relatively good weather (actually it’s probably better weather than we had all summer, just less warm) and so I can wear more clothes than just shorts & vest. Which is nice. Because I quite like wearing clothes. This time of year is also when everyone has gone back to school and work, which in my eyes is SUPER! Less busy at the hostel. YAY! No more horrible post-GCSE groups, no more stressy families, no more silly drunk young-uns (I sometimes miss being a drunk young-un… but I currently don’t really FEEL like a young-un… I was pretty amazed when a 22-23 year old couple of girls stayed at the hostel the other day, it’s not often that I find folks of my actual own age any more… actual young age rather than the 27 everyone still reckons I am).

But yes. Autumn. Outside is smelling really nice, sort of warm but damp… slightly rotting and so slightly sweet (except for the rotting seaweed at Flushing, which when trodden in leaves a thick brown tarry substance on your boots and STINKS TO HIGH HELL). Mmm, warm leaf rot smell.
Birds are singing again after their summer period of not singing (to protect the whereabouts of their young!) and it’s easier to feel more “in touch” with nature (without meaning to sound like a complete and utter hippy, haha).
Soon I’ll be able to set myself up in the hostel at a table again, and not have to move my stuff out of the way in the evenings. Soon we’ll have that lovely stream of ye olde coast path walkers again. WAHOO! The sort who DON’T bring in excessive amounts of sand on their boots, who DON’T go and get drunk and use next to their bed as a toilet (ok so that’s only happened once, and they WERE a stag group… but still. BLOODY YOUNG FOLK!).
Mmm, old path walkers. My favourite. Especially when I can natter on to them for hours about the YHA & the good old days, haha.

Hopefully the sea will remain nice and warm for a while longer yet… I was still going in mid November last year so it should be fine. I need to do more swimming with William. He’s getting better… perhaps one day I can race him & it’ll be a fair race (what’s the fun in swimming without playing about or having races?) (I miss racing).
Though of course I won’t be in the sea in November, we maybe the first week of November… but most of that time I’ll be in Amsterdam. Or Stavanger. Or Reigate. TRAVELS! YAY!

Am getting pretty excited about all my little travelly bits, not been abroad with Imy before (Amsterdam). We’ll do all the normal tourist stuff (Van Gogh museum, sex museum, coffee shops, and there’s a bar which ONLY does drinks including gin! Imy will be chuffed) and then we may go on a train or something to Rotterdam / other place for a few nights. Jazz it up a bit. I hope it won’t be too cold… at least it isn’t January / February, they’re the coldest!
I suppose Stavanger isn’t really travelling… it’s more “seeing friends”. EEEEEE! NORWEGIANS! I miss my Norwegs (Microsoft Word didn’t recognise the word “Norwegs” – how dare it! Had to add it to the dictionary).
There’s even a slight chance of me going to the Caribbean mit le parental units for x-mas (if Elk sails there with her boat we’ll go, otherwise meine mutter is going “OOHHHHH I WON’T SEE HER FOR A WHOLE YEEEEARRRR!”) (with less capital letters, she’s not much of a capital letter sort).
And then of course back to lovely lovely lovely Cornwall, where the current thought is that I’ll stay with the lovely lovely lovely William Arnold. If he’ll take me. Maybe I’ll do a little WWOOFing at Bosavern in the weekdays, to amuse myself.
And then come March, Perranporth again. Wow… nearly a whole season done at Perran, and haven’t been scared off enough to not do another one!

Though Perran does have its downsides, sometimes. As much as it’s fun to be “living” in a van – not having to pay rent or bills (apart from the vehicle related ones, but people have those even if they live in a house (if they have a vehicle) plus vehicle is cheaper than house)… where was I… ah, yes, as much as it’s fun to be “living” in a van, it’s… well, it’s not a house. Is it.
I’m currently living at Boscastle YHA for the week, covering for the manager Terry, and so I get to stay in the staff accommodation. I’ve got my own room with an en-suite bathroom (shower & mirror included!), and a bed (though I have to say, my van bed is bigger and comfier), and a DESK (this is the main highlight), and a kitchen area. I know I have all these things vaguely at hand at Perran but I have to get out of the van to get them, and I know they aren’t THAT far away from the van, it still means going outside. Sometimes in the pissing rain. Just to use the toilet.
I’m not complaining as such… I just miss having storage space to hang up my clothes (rather than delving blindly under the bed until I manage to pull out the item I was looking for) and a DESK!! (Very subtly trying to persuade Arnold to let me meet his dad who is a cabinet maker… I’d like a cabinet/shelves/desk in my van. It’d suck if I made it though) (plus I’d quite like to meet some of Arnold’s family anyway) (is that weird?) (you reading this, Arnold?) (not that I JUST want to meet his dad so that I can persuade him to make me in-van furniture) (lets stop talking about this).
But yes.
I’d like my own space, really. With good light for reading & creating in.
Wouldn’t that be nice.

But I shouldn’t be thinking about the future too much, I’ve got the present to contend with first!
Today it’s a lovely sunny looking day (although sun doesn’t last long in the Boscastle valley as the sides are so tall and steep). I think I’ll go for a little circle walk along the coast path & then slightly inland, then if there’s time maybe I’ll go to the Witchcraft Museum (again) although I reckon I need a whole afternoon for that so perhaps not (there is sketching to be done! Sketching without other people getting bored with me taking so long!).

I’ll go say a quick hello to Hector first, though. Find a change of clothes (wearing the same thing for days on end… niiice…

Anyway, it’s been roughly a month since my last update.
What’s been gow’n awnnn?

Well I’ve been back from Coverack YHA, done Perranporth YHA for a while, and now I’m at Boscastle YHA for the short week, as I said. I love the area around Boscastle; a short walk from the hostel (which is RIGHT IN the harbour – when the tide comes up the sea is pretty much lapping at the outer wall!), SHORT WALK FROM THE HOSTEL there is an outcrop of land into the sea. Yesterday I walked up there in the mist, there hadn’t been much cleaning to do and so it was still relatively early and so not many tourists were about (admittedly there aren’t too many about anyway). The mist was dramatic, and made the highest point of the outcrop even more exciting. No one about, careful footing as in some places its very slippery slate sort of rock. At the top you can look back down at the village and it feels a little like you’re seeing it from a helicopter of something.
Going towards the high up "helicopter view" place bit. In foggish stuff. Yeah.

From the afore mentioned view... this is very steeply downwards. Lots big fall mucho yes.

6th September

Ah! What a quite nice couple of days I’ve just had, yes indeed…
Yesturday was sunny, so after finishing the mornings work I decided “lets do that walk which you wanted to do, but yesterday it was too foggy!”. I set off, and instead of only getting to the top of the outcrop, I got right to the top of the hill! Aren’t I good! Up there it’s an even better view than from the outcrop; to mark the top of it is a white pole with a weather vane stuck on top (a fish) (they seem to like their weather vanes round here… I’ve noticed that the Witchcraft museum has a with on a broomstick on top of it, and there’s a few others about too… maybe it’s because everything down here has no phone signal, and so instead of checking the internet for the wind direction people actually bother to look upwards at the roof?).
But yes. Top of the hill (no mean feat really, but it’s certainly further than the day before). The day was warming up nicely, and so I decided to sit on a flat rock which over looked the fields and valley of the Boscastle area – nice and relatively sheltered, plenty of sunshine (barely a cloud in the sky! Certainly, none crossed the sun when I was there). I had my lunch (dark Ryvita with Arnold’s home grown & home made cucumber pickle, then some Leerdammer on the side as I decided it really didn’t go so great with the pickle) and then some of my peach & coconut oaty biscuit cake slice flapjack soft things (an accurate description if I ever saw one!). And slightly apple juicey water.
Well… turns out I didn’t get much further.
I sat there for a couple of hours in the end, got my shoulders back to their slightly darker egg-shell mode, and snoozed off. It was good. Eventually I decided to walk back down and so came back and then painted and drew and created – if I always had a desk, imagine how much stuff I’d get done! Wow!
I met the third and final Boscastle worker in the evening, there’s Terry the manager, then Anita and Linda the “other two” (like I’m the “other one” at Perranporth). I may have looked a little worried when Linda stuck her head into the office, not because I wasn’t expecting any more check ins and she might have been one, but because I had let out an almighty fart. WHOOPS. What a skanker.
Exciting news: Imy might come down to visit me this month! THIS IS VERY EXCITING!
From high up place in Boscastle, IN THE SUN!

And now today! Oh what a nice day. It was lovely to know that I could have a lie in and have no one to concern myself with, lovely to know that if I needed to get up and use the toilet I could just shuffle across a small patch of carpet to the bathroom, though a shame that I couldn’t stretch out due to the small size of the bed. At about 9:40 I got a call from Linda asking if that afternoon I’d like to help her out with a bit of WWOOFing… why not. Makes sure that I actually get outside, it’s another nice day!
Having noticed that it was a nice day, I promptly sat down and did yet more arty fartying until 2:45pm when Linda came and collected me.
Linda lives and works on a farm, you see; the hostel is just helping her gain extra income (I congratulate her on her ability to run from one job to the other and back to the first, all in one day, every day, and not be totally knackered out) (I suppose I could ALSO argue that making pretty pictures is my “other job” but it’s not quite the same, is it?).
Off to the farm we drove, and I meet all the dogs (thankfully they all seemed to like me, and didn’t jump about, and didn’t try to kill me like I sometimes expect dogs to do) (cat person, that’s for sure) (hamster person). The job was pretty simple, it was lifting bales of hay off of the back of a big tractor tow truck and onto the already existing stack of them in the barn. Big tall stack. Took me a few minutes to gain my sea legs (hay/straw legs?) on top of it all! Slightly wobbly, with a few treacherous gaps and holes. It was only three loads, and all VERY satisfying. The bales were that weight which make you notice that you’re lifting something, but it’s a good weight and you definitely feel that you’re doing something and work up a slight sweat. Delicious. I managed to get hay/straw EVERYWHERE (lots in the hair, who needs hair product to create a “textured volumnised look” when you can just stuff it full of hay/straw? Haha.
Met the alpacas, and the chickens, and drank home made elderflower cordial, and was given a jar of home produced honey (there’s bees! I want to keep bees). Linda took me for a brief little walk, too, to show me the cliffs which are part of their land. Corr! It’s good there. I quite like summer farm work stuff, harvesting and whatnot… shame harvesting doesn’t happen like this in the months when I’m not working YHA. It was all very interesting, and the weather stayed niiice, and then I was driven back to the hostel and bought a lavender & honey ice-cream, and we sat and ate them on a warm wall in the sun, staring at Hector. Ha.
Not much happened this evening after that, but all in all it was a good day. Yes yes. And now back to Boscastley work again tomorrow.

Sunday 9th September.
Ahhh… home sweet Perranporthy home…
Sometimes, despite the fact that it has no en-suite, no kitchen, no desk… there is nothing quite like sitting in the back of the van / Hector, over looking the sea.

Friday 14th September.
Look! Look! A blog entry! Why has the sun come out? It's making me feel guilty for not being outside!

Have some imagery:

Found via Pikaland blog... NICE FACE.

Riikka Sormunen.

Riikka Sormunen

Ping Zhu

Anton Vanhertbruggen

Amelie Fontaine

Saturday, 11 August 2012

112. Have a good delve.

Double posting today! Decided to split it into two, or else a) this post starts all the way back in… June… and b) it’d may be disgustingly long. Other half is to be seen in the post before this one, for the sake of keeping things in chronological order. Yup yup.

Sunday 5th August.
Here I am, another YHA… this time it’s Coverack. I’m sat up in the staff flat (although due to lack of rooms, I’m sleeping in my van. That’s fine, I do rather like the van… though I forgot about the downside of parking under trees, and since it’s Britain / Cornwall I suspect that it’s going to rain and so I’ll have THUNDEROUS DROPS OF DOOOOOM coming down onto my roof. And maybe a lot of bird poo.
As per usual, the hostel needed my help. As do they all. It’s pretty nice here actually… no, very nice! If I was to work at any other YHA in Cornwall it’d FO SHIZZLE be this one… catering, but not too stressful (no one ranting and raving, and throwing objects across the kitchen, whipping folks with tea towels, swearing every other word, etc… stress does appear to happen but from what I’m used to in “previous life” it’s nothing!). To be honest, working in a kitchen is nice in general because it’s something to do (I’m not complaining about being paid to sit on my bum and decorate more signs for the hostel at Perran, but sometimes its good to be DOING things… especially food related things… and the food side of things here is nice, as it’s not all 100% stuff out of plastic packs, pre-made and frozen!) (Golant have a LOT to learn). It ALSO helps that everyone here is absolutely lovely; I’d consider applying for a job here for next season, but firstly I’ve already said I’ll help with Perran (after all, I would one day like to have the place to myself…) and secondly I’m not sure I’d like to be working like this all the time… just some of the time. Every so often. Yeah.
The down point, is the fact that I have to be in the kitchen at 6:45am tomorrow. WHOAH NOW. That’s the time I woke up this morning, stuck my head out the door and went “ahh… time for a bit more sleep…”. What maniacs decided they fancied eating breakfast at 7:30… *fist shake*
Ahh… and I have the nice soggy trouser thing going on again from constantly wiping wet hands down my apron in the kitchen.

Recent news…
I went to Morocco!
A brief run down of that? Yeeeah… why not.

(Brief? BRIEF? HA! As if…)

Phil gave me a lift to the station (after I did a mornings work!) and Arnold & I managed to survive the 6 hour train journey to Reigate, fretting a little since I’ve never EVER taken a boy chap bloke back to the parental units.
I needn’t have worried, it was fine! Arnold & the motherly one nattered about gardens and whatnot, and there was coffee cake, and roast chicken, and it was all good (the fatherly one wasn’t there, away doing bizznizz). The next day we gather our belongings again and go off to Gatwick where upon we leapt onto the plane (forgot that National Geographic was quite so expensive…).
The flight was with British Airways, but this didn’t mean a thing to me. As per usual I managed to end up sitting next to an annoying bloke who had the window seat… he then decided to shut the shutters and watch a film on his iPad for the majority of the journey until perhaps he got the gist of me peering over the seats in front to see out of the window and such (he had earphones in, and I’m too awkward to ask him anyway) (silent emotional blackmail, YEAH!).
At some point we got given a little packed lunch (cheesy wrap, feta cheese etc COUS COUS!, cake, mixed fruit & seeds…) this was a new thing for me as I’m used to travelling on bog standard Easyjet. And then, THEN! The drinks trolley came along; I expected an option of “tea or coffee, or water?” but no! I ended up with a double gin & tonic! I’m still WELL impressed by this, and perhaps the altitude didn’t help as I got a little drunker than expected on that one little drink…

Arriving in Morocco (Marrakech) and stepping off the plane I thought the hot blowing hair-drier style heat was just due to the plane’s fan propeller things… no. It was just Morocco being hot. Phew! Whoah! Not used to that at all.
Taxi to the hostel was interesting, everyone over there likes to deck out their (sicky beige colour in Marrakech, greeny blue in Essauoira) (no, I still can’t spell the name of that last place)… coming back to the point… everyone seems to like decorating their taxi’s in fluffy furry fabric across the dashboard, sometimes on the seats too, and Moroccan rugs on the floors. As if the vehicles aren’t hot enough already without extra insulation…
Sometimes I think driving in England (especially the closer to London you get) is awful, but it seems amazingly civilised compared to Morocco. Staying in lane seems to be optional (why stay in one lane or the other, when you can just drive down the middle?) honking seems essential, and gazillions of people on scooters weave in and out all over the place. Add the occasional donkey into the mix. As with Britain you get fined for not wearing a seatbelt… the exception to this is if you’re in a taxi. From what we could tell, it was bad manners and an insult to the taxi drivers driving if you wore a seatbelt in a taxi! THANKFULLY no crashes were had, just lots of honking.

The first place we stayed was in the Medina itself, a backpackers called “Nari Nari”. It was down a fairly pleasant quiet (except for the normal scooters beeping their way through) side alley. Greeted with super cold air conditioning and some tea we settled down a little. The hostel is certainly a place for travellers, the walls being painted in crazy colours and hats hanging from strings in the middle of the courtyard (the majority of Moroccan houses have courtyards, this is partly to keep the place cool but also because there is a tax on windows facing outwards onto the street (like in the Middle Ages) and so this is the way of letting in light.
Our room was nice; double bed, air conditioning (though we didn’t figure it out this night, not really any of the nights actually…) and an en-suite through a fancy archway with a curtain to divide it.
Never once in Morocco did I have a warm shower, always cold, and this was always out of preference rather than lack of hot water.
This first day I saw my first cockroach, funny creatures! They appear whether a place is clean or dirty (Nari Nari seemed very clean).
In the evening we ventured out into the “real world”. This time there was no one to show us the way, and so it was a tad strange. First mission, find a cashpoint.
Easier said than done! We found various cash points but all of them out of order, so we quickly let someone help us out. Nice of him, yes… once he understood what we actually wanted. Having found a working one, he demanded money!
A quick tip to anyone ever wishing to travel to Morocco – people are friendly, but don’t ever expect them to do ANYTHING for you for free (with a few exceptions, but they are rare). We didn’t have any change, so he got off with 50d (roughly £5) just for showing us to a cash point. On our cash point mission a beggar came asking for money, for which we refused him. He looked at me in a very evil way and in rather good English snarled “fuck yoooou!” and wandered off. Nice.
There is plenty good to look at in Marrakech, but it’s not easy to look without being pestered by someone or the other, wanting to show you something in order to get money out of you. We managed to make friends with a French(?) woman (at a cash point!) and so followed her to a café / restaurant with a roof terrace where we could eat, drink, and watch the below happenings in peace.
I had my first REAL tagine (lamb and peas…) and plenty of bottled water and evil Coca-Cola product. I’d brought water purification tablets with me to avoid having to always spend out on / hunt down (not that it’s hard) bottled water, but never quite trusted them enough to use them (you hear too many watery horror stories!). Marrakech really comes alive at night, I suppose it’s partly because the heat in the daytime is so hot (52 degrees Celsius at times during out stay! EEP!).
Something I forgot to mention is the smell… it’s pretty normal to walk along and go “mm! Spices! That’s a good smell” and then the next second almost be knocked out by the stink of horse piss ammonia. But I suppose it’s the same here… but we’re used to the different smells. “Mmm, honeysuckle, EURGH! CHAVS!”. HURR HURR. Shut up, Bex…

The next day we woke, or at least woke up a bit more as neither of us were able to sleep much, and had our breakfast (a smell selection of breadish items, and coffee… I don’t like coffee, as the majority of you know, but in an effort to hydrate myself with liquid I drank it anyway). We were both very tired and very VERY grumpy. And Arnold is the grumpiest person alive EVER when he has had not enough sleep (I’m aware you may be reading this, Mohammed!).
Finding our taxi at the end of the alley we were driven off into the Atlas Mountains. Sitting and being driven about was a relief, I was already exhausted by the hustle and bustle of the city. The area around Marrakech is mostly just desert with an urban sprawl – buildings aren’t allowed to be built higher than the mosques, which I quite like as high rise buildings are awful… but sprawl isn’t so good either… as discussed with Arnold at some point during the holiday, folks should have to pass a difficult test before being allowed to parent a child! (Not just Moroccan’s, this is EVERYONE in the world!).
Going back to the journey…
The road wound about lots more once we got into the mountains, and I felt amazingly trustworthy of our drivers driving. We exchanged a few words, but most folks out there barely speak English and although Arnold can speak a little French, it’s not super (but believe me, I was SO thankful for the little he can speak!).

Getting to our destination, a rather lovely house called “Dar Tassa” at the top of a valley containing a remote village, a Berber chap called Mohamed greeted us. “Ah, hello Mr William!”. Most greetings and general conversation was directed at Will / Arnold, this was partly because he knows more French, partly because he did all the accommodation bookings, but also partly because over there women aren’t noticed much except for when blokes fancy ogling at them/whistling at them/etc. Just think of all those Burkas. Women cook, clean, have babies, look after babies, and the children, and the adults, and the old adults, and do the shopping… everything… but men get to sit around selling their wares and drinking mint tea.
BACK TO DAR TASSA… greeted this time with a small glass of warm milk and some dates, our room was quite simple – a double bed (VERY SOLID mattress), and air conditioning. Much better air conditioning than the previous room (but it was still too hot to sleep at night) (one night I even made myself a little bed on the floor, to see if it was any cooler and such… I didn’t sleep MUCH better!).
Our first day was spent lazing about in the house and outside under a big brown tent thing, looking at the rather good view down the valley and around at the mountains. There were builders working next door, but it was nothing like British builders – no bum cracks or rude whistles, just hard work… all done by hand! Not an irritatingly loud machine to be seen or heard (and they were quite interesting to watch, too).
I read, and painted, and drew.
Ants were running all over the place, mostly the normal little ones but also some BIG ones who one minute would be walking about like normal (big) ants, and then the next they would ALL put their bums in the air and sprint about like the house was on fire! I have no idea what set this off, but it wouldn’t just be one of them doing it – it’d be the whole lot.
The next day we went out to explore the immediate area with an English (well…) speaking guide called Mohamed. Not the Mohamed at the house, mind you, this is another one… the majority of men in Morocco are apparently called that, the next most popular name being Abdul.
Mohamed the second was friendly, but as with everyone nothing came free and he had to tip him (pretty heavily… 100d that first day!). He walked us down into the orchard covered valley area, fresh peaches everywhere… mmm! And then up into the mountains a little.
The main thing I noticed about Mohamed were his teeth… most folks in Morocco do not brush their teeth, this combined with a large dose of sugar being added to everything (especially mint tea, which is consumed in large quantities) led to him having green rotten teefs. Yuck yuck. On the mention of teeth, I also found it amusing that any building marked as a dentist had an illustration of false teeth outside it – the majority of dentists are just tooth pullers, I think.
Our second full day in the mountains we got driven by a chap called… Mohamed (the third) with Mohamed (the second) to near a place called Tinmal (or something like that). We walked the remaining distance, the walk being roughly 2 hours long.
I can walk for two hours.
I can walk for more than that!
But not in Morocco.
I thought we had enough water with us, and as we were in a more rural area I had my shoulders covered with a nice cool whitish top (local women never show shoulders, it’s basically PORN) and my sandals were comfy and I had a straw hat, so I reckoned it’d all be fine.
Half way through I couldn’t breathe, and we were running low on water, and I’d snapped the string fastening on my bag, and I was too hot, and flies kept getting in my face, and I thought I might actually collapse and die, and I had to keep giving myself rather emotional (in my head) pep talks to keep myself going, and there was no shade as it was a mountain desert area, and I’m so glad that Arnold was walking behind me as if I HAD died then I may have been eaten alive by roaming starving donkeys.
Basically, as much as it was nice to get out and do something, I didn’t enjoy it. My language was only kept clean by the fact that we were on a sort of little pilgrimage track to a 12th century mosque (one of the only 2 in Morocco which non-Muslim people are allowed in to). Otherwise I would have sounded worse than Ozzy Osbourne.

Upon reaching the mosque there was thunder and it started to rain – I don’t ever in my life remember being THAT happy for rain, so I sat on the floor as a breeze got up and grinned like a maniac.

The mosque was very pretty.

After the mosque we were led to a little stream/river where I promptly waded in wearing my sandals and grinned even more. Mmm… cold wet feet (there were a few frogs and fishes too, and a bit of rubbish – not quite National Trust standard!!).
Picnicing under a bridge like trolls we ate plenty of peaches, boiled eggs, and other pre-pared by the house foods.
Packing up the picnic, we were driven back away and past a local market. Here we bought herbs and spices, and a chap tried to sell me some slippers and a djbella (spelling has been forgotten – it’s a bit like a wizard robe with a pointy hood). At local markets it doesn’t seem to matter if the colour is right, if it fits then surely you should buy it! I managed to escape. Mohamed the second then led us down an alley and produced some jewellery with “precious jewels” which he and his company got out of the mines, and silver which was hand hammered and stamped! Oh, if only I didn’t know what jewels and silver looked like… the beads were painted clay and plastic, and the silver was perhaps silver in colour, but the sort of metal which is so cheap it’s almost plastic.
However, he was so pushy and HAD been a great use to us that I was made to buy some, this pissed me off a bit… but as I said, nothing is for free. I’m still unsure what to do with the jewellery… I certainly wouldn’t wear it! Safe to say, Mohamed the third managed to drive us away to the safety of the house before Mohamed the second managed to get his daily expensive tip off of us.
In general, Dar Tassa was lovely as no one really bothered you like they do in Marrakech. The food was tasty tasty, Mohamed the first was a really nice host, and we met some fellow travellers (I was glad to see that they were arguing with each other, too!).
The thing I enjoyed most about the mountains may have been the multiple calls to prayer; these happen from mosques all over – someone reading religious script (or something) in Arabic down megaphones, the resulting sound usually sounding a bit like racing cars or electric blenders, but in the mountains it was really nice! Wouldn’t have minded living next door to it…
Air temperature in mountains was slightly cooler than in Marrakech.

The next day, we were driven back to Marrakech.
Four nights in a row without any decent sleep… tensions running high. Finding the right chap to get a ticket for the bus to Essaouaira the next day was… interesting.
Again we went out into the main square for supper, though not before a stop to have some expensive tourist-tastic ice-cream at the side (an excuse to sit down). Three flavours for me, normal boring (but good) chocolate, and raspberry, but then MINT… you think of mint ice-cream and you think of the fluorescent turquoise stuff with dark brown chocolate-esque bits in it (as a child I called this “snot and bogey” ice-cream). But no. THIS mint ice-cream was most definitely real mint, and MOST definitely yummy.
More tagine for supper (what else? Mm!). Lamb, onion, and dates.

Getting the bus/coach the next day was relatively simple, in the end, but of course when you’re ridiculously tired, hot, and grumpy absolutely nothing is simple.
The coach (Supratours, best bus company in Morocco!) was pretty tourist filled, not many locals, and wonderfully air conditioned. English girls next to me wouldn’t stop talking shit, but that’s mostly expected.
I read my definitely very appropriate book Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome (linked to Swallows and Amazons, this one is in the Lake District when the whole lake freezes. Nice cold thoughts…).
Upon arrival in Essa I readied myself for getting out of the bus and being hit with a wall of hot hot heat, but I was pleasantly surprised! Since it’s on the coast there was a fresh breeze and many locals were wearing thick jackets and fleeces.
The normal stress on finding out feet occurred, and after a while of using an internet café, searching the streets, snapping at each other, attempting and failing to get hold of a telephone number contact we had (using both mobiles and public phones) we collapsed into chairs at a little café in a pleasant square, called 

La Cantina. Here, much to our relief, were people who spoke English. In fact, they were (and still are, I hope!) ENGLISH! I know you’re meant to go to other countries to experience the country for what it is, but right then I was exceedingly happy to have something familiar. Having lunch (it was all Mexican!!) we then asked the lady if she knew anything about the house (it was very near by). Just by chance she did, and she knew where the father of the chap who had the key worked – just round the corner again! We were lead to this new café (Moroccan, run by  Moroccan’s) and were greeted with mint tea and friendly people (ONE English chap included…) and were told that the chap with the key was at work, and that he’d be back in an hour and that we could wait there.
So we waited. People were very friendly, we got some free (actually free!) pancakey things at some point, and they continued to natter to us in a broken French/English sort of way, and Arnold tried out a traditional Moroccan instrument which has strings made of cat guts (enough cats around, I suppose!) and I nodded off for a little while.
The hour passed, and then they recalled “Ah! He is not back yet because it is now changed to Ramadan time, so he will be here in an hour!” ok. So we waited for an hour longer… it wasn’t so bad… we separately wandered off to snoop about the streets for a while, contemplated having a calamari couscous… waited… waited… an hour passed, and he still didn’t turn up. These folks had been calling his mobile but no luck, no answer.
In the end we had waited for 5 hours and just got too fed up, so went back to the English café and asked whether she knew any good places to stay that night – perhaps we’d try the house again the next day (3 nights in Essa in total). Much to our delight she knew a few, and got through to a house called “Kirstys Place”; not long after, “Kirsty” came along.
Kirsty is actually called Sammy – she took the house (and it’s business) over from a girl called Kirsty, and is Dutch. She lives with her Moroccan boyfriend (this is illegal, lets just hope those Moroccan officials don’t read this, eh? If they were found then he’d go to prison for 5 years – 5 years seems to be the time for anything in prison – and she’d get sent back home). The house was in the suburbs outside the Medina, and had everything we needed. It was a bit like a B&B, but you tend to find your own breakfast in the fridge and it was otherwise just like a house share. The place was decked out in a hippy/Moroccan way (veeeery nice) and a new edition was a small kitten called Blue. Blue had started life as a street cat, but on her way home from the shops Sammy had found her lying next to the road as if hit by a car, almost dead. Picking her up, she took her home and fed her and cared for her and all that stuff and now she is DEFINITELY alive! SOOOOO CYOOT! Playful in the mornings, and then floppy and sleepy in the evenings. Drawings were done, and flea bites were had (I hope it was just the one HUGE flea that Sammy managed to catch). Ohh for a kitten.

Our time in Essa was by far the best bit of the trip; for starters it was lots cooler and so we were actually able to sleep at night (and the bed was super comfy), then getting into town wasn’t too far a walk (though we got lost on the way home one day, and that lead to much grumping and me eventually hailing a taxi) (taxi’s are piss cheap). We explored the Medina plenty, decided to stay at Sammy’s place for all 3 nights, wandered through the fresh fish markets by the harbour, sat out on the wall with cannons on it, bumped into the argumentative family we met at Dar Tassa in the mountains, and bought the stuff we’d had our eyes on (cheaper in Essa than Marrakech). Funky rug boots, a big fat wrist bangle/bracelet and Fatima’s hand, bum bag belt thing with lots of pockets, plus some postcards of men (with things like chickens on their heads, covered in bells, etc etc…).

-QUICK PAUSE IN MOROCCO… sorry if the writing from here on in is a tad dodgy, I’ve just been given a glass of wine and it’s affecting my limbs already, I haven’t had a drink since our second night in Essa) (that was… 3 weeks ago?! Something like that). PAUSE OVER-

I was pretty sad to leave Essa, knowing we’d be going back to that stressful hot place which is Marrakech. But we got back, bartered for a taxi, and found our hostel again. Our last night in Morocco.
Supper was had at the same place as we went on our first night, my tagine of choice this night was lamb, almonds, and prunes. Nom.
Getting back to the hostel we were invited to join in with their “breakfast” (Ramadan, the sun had set!). Sticky sweet things which I’d been eyeing up all holiday were found to be VERY sticky, and VERY sweet, and a bit too much really. Yoghurt was good.
The next day bags were packed, heels were dragged as we had some time to kill before 2pm where upon we’d meet our taxi to take us to the airport (the chap who had given us a lift from the station the day before said he’d do it for a good price). Got 1kilo of last minute dates, and finally time to go.
Going along at just before 2pm we were forced into getting into a different taxi to the one we’d ordered, but we didn’t really complain too much as it was 30d cheaper. Just as we pulled out we saw our original taxi (1616) come through to wait for us and we felt a tad bad… but it was too late. And anyway, this one was cheaper. As Arnold later said “I felt bad for a little while, but then I decided that it was ok because we finally got one up on the Moroccan’s”. I decided to blame a random spot of extreme (bum!!!) pain upon arriving in duty free on the fact that Mr 1616 had cursed us for not going with him.
On the mention of airports, I got frisked going through Gatwick AND Marrakech airports. In Gatwick it was quite rough, the woman even going so far as to put her hands a bit down my trousers! In Marrakech however, I could have been frisked all day! The woman was very nice and gentle, it was more like a pleasant stroking… those of you who know me properly will know that I’m a sucker for being stroked (like a cat, I enjoy that sort of attention and dislike being put in a bath/shower).
The flight was really good, being put on an alternative company to BA as their plane had died, we had loads of room, a WINDOW, and the seemingly normal food & drink service. Sky was clear the entire was so a good view was had, it certainly beat Google Earth, and then we got home.
Home, home, home. It was good to be home.

Morocco is still with me however, as the instant I got home I needed to poop… the nasty consistency was put down to travelling, however I’ve only just got over the last of it as I was then hit with an awful bout of the shits and stomach cramps so bad I wanted to puke. Ahhh, Moroccan germs! Almost 2 weeks of it… yurgh!
I’m sure you wanted to know that.

So that was that.
And now I’m in Coverack, and then Perranporth.
Life is good, though I feel fat and lazy after my days on end of lying in my van groaning and eating plain stodgy food.

Saturday 11th August.
I've swam in the sea every day for the past 4 days, 2 of them I even went in without my wetsuit. YEAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! This is the life.

Sketches from Morocco, first half and second half.

A couple of pieces I've recently made...

A selection of images! I hope the names of the artists show up, I've put them as "add caption" but the last lot didn't show. Have since fiddled with colours of blog, so lets hope they show now?!

Ben Aslett

Brandon Reese

Dinara Mirtalipova

Green Ink

Izziyana Suhaimi

Jenny Bowers

Luke Best

Robert Crumb! (Who else...)

Tom Kondrat

Friday, 10 August 2012

111. 'Leven. Mevern. Neven. Peven. Reven. Etc.

28th June.
Having spent the last few days at Lands End YHA in thick mist, I thought I had a pretty reasonable reason as to why I wasn’t actually leaving my van let alone the grounds when I was not working.
Today was a slight change in pattern, starting off relatively normal I helped served breakfast to the big group of primary school kids who are currently staying (quick note – I haven’t permanently moved to YHA Lands End, just giving them a hand in a busy moment!), I then went on to avoid having to do any cleaning as Chris saw the poster I had made for YHA Perranporth & wanted one for his own. Painty painty paint, did that for a few hours… nothing much else to do – still misty/foggy outside! What’s the point in going for a walk in the mist? I thought, there won’t be any view… occasionally other thoughts came in:
“But there could be some cooool and hip misty photos to get…” (it seems misty photos were in for a while, are they still?) “stop being a lazy bugger!” (story of my life, as they say).
So I didn’t get out (although I DID plan a walk along a route of Geo Caches, maybe next time…).
But then today I DID get out! Finally the sun came out and I wandered up to the farm for 3pm or so.
It’s funny how you can get into the lazy mindset of “urrrgh no, I don’t wanna go out and do things… sitting in bed / general van is so much easier” and when you get out you a) feel a little bad that walking (at speed up a hill) puffs you out a little more than it should, b) you should have gone for that GeoCache walk as you KNOW there is one by this kissing gate… but where? And c) you’re actually really enjoying being out and the work you do is fun and easy.

What did I do at the farm?
Well, first I went and gave Horace & Popo belly rubs (Popo at least, Horace – being the only boy pig left with balls – made a load of I AM A GRUNT MALE PIG noises and wandered off to eat more). Then I helped move Ebony! We had to separate her from big boars Butch (with balls) and Barney; biiiig boy pigs with tusks still remain relatively terrifying. This is due to her going to EXPLODE WITH LOTS OF BABY PIGGIES in a few weeks. We then went and managed to separate one of the little girl pigs from the rest… both pig separations were easier said than done (though not as hard as expected) and included a lot of manoeuvring, forward planning, and plotting. It later turned out that Ebony (big mummy big) didn’t recognise her daughter and kept trying to attack her… so Ginger was moved back to her other siblings, and Ebony is alone with the chickens (according to Hugh’s book on traditional pig keeping, it is fine to keep pigs on their own if they’re soon to give birth). Then tea break. It’s funny how at home you can feel in a place even though you haven’t been living there for a few months…
Then went on to collect eggs (I still sing the Chickadee ABBA song to them… a hard habit to kick… not that I WANT to kick it…!), washed them etc… everything I used to do! The sun was by then fully out so I sat outside and nattered to American WWOOFer Bryan. It’s so different there in the summer… in the winter sitting INDOORS to chat was cold, screw outdoors!
Noticing it was time to make supper (Bryan’s go) and me being me ended up cooking. I like cooking for people when I get to eat it too. Made a random veggie curry, a little potato turmeric curry (too much turmeric by accident, thankfully houmus & natural yoghurt were at hand!) and ginger/garlic rice. We all had this with my blackcurrant mead (from Phil for my birthday).
All in all, a nice time. Yes yes.
I wonder if I’ll go back there for some of the winter.
Anyway, walking home at 9pm was glorious… of course it was still light, and everything felt so good as I stomped through those long grassed meadows!
Why on earth do I find it so hard to get up and out!
Silly Bex.

On a more recent note, I’ve been researching what to wear in Morocco. For me it will be all about the long skirts, and I’ll have to find some more t-shirts / things which cover my shoulders (wonder if mum has any nice scarves in her crazy huge collection…).

1st July. 6:38AM.

CRAZY O’ CLOCK. Admittedly I haven’t really slept yet… but it’s been really nice driving from Falmouth to Perranporth at 5:43 – 6:10am. Amazing morning light (I really wish I’d wake up early EVERY morning! Am willing to go to bed earlier!) and pretty much no one else on the roads (which was good, as I haven’t actually really slept since the night before). The only problem, was hoping to avoid hitting the billions of baby rabbits hopping about on the roads… thankfully only nearly hit 2 (though one of them I’m not entirely sure I DIDN’T hit… but hey, the life cycle will go on – scavengers will have it for breakfast!).

But why on earth am I up this early?
Well yesterday was lovely, having got up at relatively normal o’ clock and Arnold having a cold (he doesn’t cope well with lurgs). After a brief trip to Sainsburys for some evil Coca Cola product to keep him awake / alive, and some lunch, we drove off to a little place called Rinsey which is roughly half way between Helston & Penzance. National Trust car park YAY and after deciding that the beach wasn’t actually there due to high Spring tides we went for a walk.

I’ve been there not so long ago with Squidget Rarr & Alex (Geo Cache walk) so I knew a few good little spots for lunch and such. We stopped at one and were just looking at the old bits of mine when I noticed a black bird.
“Is that a blackbird? It kinda doesn’t look like a blackbird… and far too small for a crow… WHOAH!”.
IT WAS A CHOUGH! I’ve finally seen a Chough. These are very rare Cornish birds, though “often” seen in the Rinsey area as it’s a known ground for them. So that was all very exciting. Arnold then said “oh, a shag” and pointed to the sea where upon I went “OH!! DOLPHINS!” A WHOLE POD OF DOLPHINS! I’d say roughly seven of them, but easily more. They were all arching their backs out the water and looking super duper. Sadly I didn’t have my camera out quick enough for either of these things, but I’ll remember them well in my mind.

After lunch we continued the little walk, I found a couple of possibly Chough feathers, and we climbed about on the big high up rocks (well, I did whilst Arnold fretted about me falling off) (I’m a mountain goat, you know! That’s what my parents always used to call me when we were out walking when I was younger).
After these meanderings we upped & off’d closer to Falmouth (Maenporth) for a swim in the sea. I did some backstroke for the first time in forever, and it was all good.
In the evening we went to Miss Peapods in Penryn for some gig, I have to admit that I don’t reckon it was my £6 entry fee (even if I HAD remained inside for the entirety of it, as I actually decided to stand/sit outside and watch the estuary mud). The singers with their guitars were admittedly very nice and talented, but no more so that the field lot or Mr Arnold, and I can listen/watch them for free. Nice sitting by the estuary though.

Getting a lift back to Fal I went to bed whilst everyone else went to the basement to listen to records and get drunker. This was loud. So Bex did not sleep. At all, really. So now she is tired and grumpy and back at Perranporth and someone from this group who are checking out today has nicked her nice little “home” parking spot so she’s on an awkward corner but hopefully won’t be disturbed now until 9:50am when she wakes up after a few hours of sleep.

But at least she got to see the early morning light, which was really nice.

Yes yes.

8th July.

One week later… Bex is in bed again. Going to sleep again. But this time, it’s a reasonable hour for doing so (almost 11).

The past week has mostly been filled with dealing with a group of 25 15-16 year olds filling the hostel; a post-GCSE group. No parents, no teachers, just them.
Right from the start I decided there was no point telling them to keep single sex rooms… it’s not as if bed jumping wouldn’t happen!
But thankfully they’re now all gone. Admittedly they weren’t totally awful, they were just loud, ridiculously messy (6 hour clear up!), and relatively irritating in part… but I shan’t go in to any of that too much as I did enough ranting on Farcebook at the time of the happenings.

To pick things up at the end of the day, I got to drive to Falmouth and have a lovely evening in The Field with Dan, Dave, and Lisa – I cooked a butternut squash risotto and we all sat in Dan’s slowly improving caravan to natter and whatnot. It’s always enjoyably “hanging” with that lot; a wonderful lack of modern day objects (lighting being the stub of a candle in a Dan-forged curly candlestick, and one of the main sources of entertainment being a book on mammals, gifted from Dan to Dave (anyone else ever heard of “badger-like-dog” or was it “dog-like-badger”? Safe to say I had a dream of many (very cute) little fluffy creatures that night.
Waking up the next morning (Arnold’s bed, having driven the daaaark, daaark lanes from The Field to Fal) we set upon chasing a rabbit round his garden – it recently escaped it’s pen next door and decided to eat all Will’s peas and beans (and the rest), thus being a huge source of irritation. I reckon we should shoot it, the neighbours don’t seem too fussed about getting it back and it’s impossible to catch by hand. Plus it’d be like some sort of payment for all the vegetables it’s eaten (and I reckon it’d taste good, big rabbit with not too much exercise!). Non-vegetarian Phil(lipa) apparently very much does not agree with this plan. Supposedly vegetarian Luke seems fine with the shooting of the rabbit.
Anyone got an air rifle?

The rest of Saturday was relatively un-eventful, running a couple of little errands in Fal, finding Mr William L. Arnold a straw hat (easier said than done for someone with a huge head, and a small wallet – who ever knew straw hats could go up to such ridiculous prices? He is now however equipped with suitable headwear for Morocco).
Come the evening, and the ending of having to pay for the car park at Maenporth beach, we drove down and went for our weekly swim. The sea seemed colder than usual and so I didn’t do any of my usual duck diving antics as to keep my head slightly dry. This lead to practising head up front crawl (I’m getting pretty good! Maybe one day I’ll get back up to racing standard…). Will is getting much much better, he certainly kept swimming more than I did (me being a lazy one, keeps stopping).
After swimming, fuelled on toffees, we drove off to the Forge to see if Dan & Lisa & Dave were there – Lisa has been forging a big church screen thing, I haven’t seen it… so I went to snoop. But we were too late. Nice little explore though, sadly one route to the quarry pool was well and truly flooded (even the board walk had floated off) and the other route was too overgrown to walk whilst wearing thing trousers & sandals. Good to be stomping about outdoors though on a reasonably pleasant evening.

Life is still good.
This evening after shift ended I decided to try something out of the norm and climb up the hill behind the hostel to find mobile signal. I found some! So with a fresh mug of Yogi “Sweet Chilli” tea, sweetened with honey, I called Imy.
But she was doing a bit of sleeping.
I then looked through my ever shortening list of phone contacts and wondered who I could call to have a good natter to. I suppose it’s my own fault that I don’t really talk to anyone anymore! Everyone I called had their phones off (or perhaps they’ve just changed phone numbers and I don’t know?) until thankfully Golant Rachel rung back. Ahhh yes… YHA gossip… talking shop, some folks call it. I like it.
So we had a good little talk about the ways of the YHA.
On the mention of which, I read the book “Black Sail” by ex-warden Steven (Sol) Freeman. I don’t reckon anyone who doesn’t work for the YHA would enjoy it, for it wasn’t much really apart from him commenting on his every day life at YHA Blacksail in the Lake District… but us insiders, we know! Some bits were pretty rude, but they seemed like good honest thoughts and so why bother censoring.
I guess this blog is slightly like what he did with his book.
I wonder if I know anyone who knows him, it sounds like he thought of applying for the manager / warden job here at Perranporth some years back.

I should sleep soon. Or read some of Arthur Ransome’s “Winter Holiday” then sleep. Reading before snoring is good.

Where is this supposed severe weather? This weekend was meant to be full of it down here in Cornwall, but if I’m to be honest we’ve had more sunshine than we have in a few weeks! I shan’t complain though.

Sitting on the toilet-just-inside-the-front-door earlier, I watched a little centipede trying to walk up a sloped piece of floor before deciding it wasn’t possible and reversing out of the situation. I watched it walk forwards and backwards for a while, amused by it’s back going abilities. I wondered if it knew it was right next to the nest of a frisky little spider (if the spider didn’t decide to leave the hostel when the noisy teenagers were in).