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!

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