Monday, 10 July 2017

ALMOST 38

I turn 38 tomorrow. 37 has been an up and down kind of a year and I'm trying to give up attempting to predict what the year to come might bring but there are a few things I would like to do.

We went to Italy last month. It was hot, too hot really, in Rome. We saw sights but we also sought out shade, and gelato, at every opportunity. I hadn't realised how many water fountains there are in Rome but being able to fill bottles with cold drinking water whenever we needed to was a lifesaver. We stayed in Testaccio for 3 nights and spent a little time each day sitting on a bench under the trees watching people stop off at the water fountain to top up bottles, splash their faces, wash their hands.

On the Saturday we went to a bakery and bought slices of freshly made pizza bianca, the guy behind the counter slicing the whole pizza in half down its length, gesturing to see how much we wanted, before chopping it into chunks. We ate it on a bench opposite the fountain before heading to the market to buy peaches and cherries. Later that day, after a visit to the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica, we walked along the river to Trastevere. We had walked past Da Enzo the day before, recognised it from a friend's photo on Instagram, and decided that we would try to go. After a couple of drinks that evening we stopped by and left our name and then waited, and waited. Later, I'm choosing not to dwell on how much later because it really was worth it, we sat down and ordered carbonara, cacio e pepe, and wild chicory. But, and this would be a recurring theme, after eating about a third of what was absolutely the best carbonara I have ever had my appetite vanished. Apparently my body doesn't do well with feeling too hot and trying to eat much of anything at all which is a very sad place to be when you're in Rome. So, a few days later when we left Rome and headed for the coast we decided that when we return, because we absolutely will, maybe it will be in Autumn, or very early Spring. But the other thing I decided was that I really need to learn to make a proper carbonara.

So making carbonara is on my, not very long, list of things that I want to happen when I'm 38 list; as is conquering my hatred of creating foot rings in pottery. And, and I know I always say this but I'm hoping one day it will stick, I want to write more. Somehow writing a a few lines, here, or in a notebook, or on even on my phone, makes me feel like I have accomplished something even if those lines exist only in that place, in an imperfect form. Maybe it's a lesson I'm learning from pottery where I've been remarkably, for me, happy about my wonky pots, my imperfect glazing. Maybe the doing really is the thing.

So, 38, let's go.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

LA DOLCE VITA

I keep meaning to write, just for a change, and then here we are about to go off on holiday. The only time I have been to Italy I was, I think, 23. Sarah and I spent a weekend in Milan, we stayed in a hotel that was cheap and surprisingly fancy, climbed up to the roof of the Duomo, and hid behind a rack of postcards to escape some rather persistent Italian boys.

This time Chris and I are heading to Rome, Praiano on the Amalfi Coast, and Naples. The plan is, essentially, to eat good food, swim in the sea, sea a few sights, and relax. I'm sure there will be plenty of pizza, gelato, and Campari photos on Instagram...




Friday, 7 April 2017

SUMMER 2009

We were away last week. South for my sister's 40th birthday party, a few days in London, then five nights in Copenhagen. But that isn't what I'm writing about today.

Our flight was delayed coming back on Sunday night and we were in a taxi sometime around 11pm when Drake's 'One Dance' came on the radio with its sample of 'Do You Mind'. 

We were living in a 5th floor flat, our second London flat after the one with the oddly shaped rooms and the small windows. This flat had five flights of stairs to walk up and there was a strange, slightly sweet, smell that we never managed to identify near the front door. It had a tiny kitchen and two uncomfortable blue sofas. But those five flights of stairs meant it was light, so light it bleached the spines of our books, and it had a balcony, that I once described as functional, that was just the right size for two.

Quite often though it was just me. Chris was working in retail at the time which meant him getting home later than me in the evenings and working at least one day every weekend. On a nice day I would sit with a book, my feet propped up on the railings, popping in and out for cold drinks. I would look at the view and listen to the sounds floating up from the street.

That summer the sounds that made me happiest were the songs that seemed to be everywhere in London at the time. A time when we would tune into pirate radio stations, the soundtrack almost inevitably something bouncy, the DJs would talk over it, rewind it, play it again. We would listen to 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees N Toes', 'In the Morning', 'Do You Mind', songs that made me smile, still make me smile, we would dance to them in our tiny kitchen.

So, now, hearing one song play in a taxi in Edinburgh I think of another one that played so frequently that summer. I think about sitting on the balcony in the sun hearing it blaring from a car on Stoke Newington Church Street. It still makes me smile, it still makes us dance in the kitchen.



Wednesday, 8 March 2017

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

It’s been a rough start to the year and I’ve found myself a little blocked, emotionally, physically, generally. But International Women’s Day seems like a good time to unblock, or least to start the process of unblocking so on this day I’m going to offer you some things…

Some things to watch:

 
 


Some things to read:



'Red is so much more than a colour. It’s a statement of intent, a demand to be acknowledged, a sign of simultaneous individuality and sisterly solidarity. It quite simply does not give a fuck when we women so often give far, far too many.'

Some things to do:

Take part in a day without women in whatever way you can. Strike, wear red, don’t spend money or only spend it in small women or minority owned businesses like this


Something I wish I could see:



 And, finally, one last thing to watch:

 



Tuesday, 24 January 2017

JANUARY 2017

Happy new year!

I know I'm not alone in being preoccupied by the news this January. We went to the Women's March here on Saturday to stand alongside women all around the world. Seeing post after post on instagram and facebook from people doing the same on every continent felt like we were witnessing a giant outpouring of love and solidarity but it also made me realise that we can't do this one thing and then just stop. I feel, rightly or wrongly, limited in what I can do but then I thought about it.

I thought about the threat to Planned Parenthood in the US and the fact that in Northern Ireland women still can't have an abortion and realised that I can support a charity that helps them, along with women in Ireland and the Isle of Man, to travel to access safe abortions. Abortion Support Network.

I thought about the very obvious attempts by Trump to discredit journalism and the threat that poses and realised that I can support the place where I get most of my news. The Guardian.

I thought about people calling and writing to their representatives in the US and realised that I can and should be using my voice here as well, starting with a prompt from the organisers of the London Women's March. 10 actions.

It's just a start, but if we all view Saturday as a start rather than a one-off maybe, eventually, we'll get somewhere good.