Packing update

Well, it feels like slow progress, but we are gradually getting the packing done for the move.  The library is 95% done, the dining room about 50%, the bedroom maybe 20%.  Actually, that doesn’t sound like much at all, thinking about it, and now I’m panicking slightly again.  I’m hoping by the end of the weekend we’ll have broken the back of it.  I’m also hoping the new tattoo I will have from Friday onwards won’t hinder me too much with the packing work.  I didn’t really think about that when I booked the appointment in October.

I’m sort of regretting packing the DVDs first, because I keep coming across other stuff while packing that reminds me of a certain Doctor Who episode, and then I’m all like ‘ooh!  Let me just grab that DVD to check that scene…oh.’  It’s probably for the best.  I don’t need any more sources of procrastination right now.

’80s trenchcoats

I have far too many coats and jackets, because, like most things, I never throw them away.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve not yet thrown away the old winter coat that I wore to death in uni, the one that has a big rip in the front with stuffing coming out of it.  It’s one of those collections that badly needs to be culled when we move into the new place, ’cause I don’t think we’re going to have a lot of hanging space for coats.

This didn’t stop me acquiring five new ones this winter, however.  Three were gifts from my sister-in-law when she was clearing out her Edinburgh clothes stash, so I’m going to raise my hand and say ‘not responsible’ for those, but the other two were Etsy purchases.  Having really got into vintage clothes shopping in the last couple of years, I’m developing a bit of an Etsy addiction.

Black vintage '80s trenchcoat
My black ’80s trenchcoat, the slightly warmer of the two I own. The beige one will be out in full force for the spring.

Thing is, I love ’80s trenchcoats.  They’re much longer than their modern-day equivalents, so you don’t get the awkward hem battle when you’re wearing a skirt, and like most clothing cuts from the ’80s, it’s a much more dramatic silhouette, with nice wide shoulders and a nipped-in waist.  I find that in the depths of winter, when you’re always wearing a coat outdoors, a bit of dramatic dressing is refreshing, especially after the sparkly Christmas stuff has all had to be put away.

It’s probably for the best that there’s only one more month left of winter, ’cause Etsy keeps tempting me with more and more coats in all the colours of the rainbow (and in the ’80s, it was a very brightly coloured rainbow).  If only I had the space!

parkrun…and waiting patiently for my 50 shirt

I went to parkrun again this morning.  Another solid sub-35, happy with that!  Volunteering next week though, because I’ll be getting work done on my tattoo on Friday so will still be a bit tender on Saturday.

I qualified for my first parkrun milestone shirt when I did my 50th parkrun in October, but the company that did the T-shirts had been having problems with shirt stock so there was a huge backlog with people waiting for them.  However, parkrun has now taken shirt production in-house so hopefully I shouldn’t have to wait too long for my shirt when they release them.  I should at least get it before I qualify for my 100 shirt some time in early 2019!

2018 Ciders #6: Flat Tyre

Another birthday cider!

Flat Tyre
Flat Tyre, with its lovely pinky rhubarb hue.

This one happened to be on draught at the pub on my birthday – they often get interesting ciders in – and I ended up having a couple, ’cause the rhubarb flavour was so nice.  I’d not had a pink cider since the strange beetroot one I discovered during the Wetherspoons summer cider festival of 2013; this one is a lot better.

Also, a kind friend brought me a can of the stuff (among other ciders) as a birthday present…

Flat Tyre can
I really like the design of the Flat Tyre can!

…which means I’ve got one all ready for Non-Dry February.  Looking forward to it!

Burns Night

It’s Burns Night…and I’m not eating haggis.  I know, I’m a bad Scot.  But getting the stuff in England tends to be a right faff, which means acquiring a Burns Supper has become a lot more ‘interesting’ since I moved away from Scotland in 2011.

A brief history of my Burns Supper eating:

  • 1985-2002: Burns Supper at home, cooked by parents, complete with horrible off-key chanter playing by my dad (who is a good musician but not a regular chanter player) as we ‘piped in the haggis’ and people reading the Selkirk Grace off a teatowel
  • 2002-2011: as above, except that I no longer lived at home so went round to my parents’ specially; my dad had given up on the chanter playing by this point as well
  • 2012: our first Burns Night living in Southampton – Geth bought extortionately-priced veggie haggis from a butcher and made a decent if not entirely presentable job of cooking it, but I felt SO HOMESICK
  • 2013: went to eat at a cafe in Southampton where they were serving ‘haggis’ made out of tomatoes and had people onstage reciting really patronising attempts at ‘Scots’ poetry – had to leave before table flipping occurred
  • 2014: still in Southampton; had friends round for Burns Supper, which was slightly ruined by Geth buying the wrong veg due to English supermarkets’ insistence on calling neeps by the wrong name (they call it ‘swede’ instead of ‘turnip’ for some reason, so he ended up getting something completely different that did not mash well at all)
  • 2015: we were preparing for a stressful move from Southampton to Newcastle, so Burns Night, along with various other late winter celebrations like Valentine’s Day and Shrove Tuesday, fell by the wayside that year
  • 2016-2017: took advantage of only living a 90-minute train journey away from Edinburgh to go land on my parents for Burns Night again, just like old times
  • 2018: did vaguely plan to go up to Edinburgh…but house moving has struck again, and we’ve been too busy/tired to get organised

Dry January also means no toasts with whisky or Thistly Cross cider.  I couldn’t even find any Diet Irn-Bru at the supermarket today.  Living in England strikes again.

To make up for the lack of the haggis picture that would obviously accompany this post had I cooked any, have a link to Tam O’Shanter, my all-time favourite Burns poem.

Modern pop music

At the start of 2010, with my interest piqued by the 2009 Christmas number one race between Joe McElderry and Rage Against The Machine, I decided that for the entirety of the 2010s, I would follow what was happening in the UK music chart, no matter how terrible the music was.  I’ve always liked the way that pop culture nostalgia can be packaged neatly into decades, and I thought it would be cool to follow the evolution of one from start to finish.

Though I’m a list obsessive and had loved following the chart as a kid in the ’90s (the tail end of that happy period in UK pop music that roughly ended with the demise of Smash Hits and Top of the Pops), I’d lost interest during the ’00s, largely because I was Too Busy Being Goth.  I was roughly aware that some of the more pop-punk and emo stuff that was featured in the rock magazines I read was in the charts around mid-decade, but I didn’t really have any idea of what was going on in pop music at all, other than what people were dancing to on Strictly.*

Eight years in, it’s been interesting, and catching up with the chart has become such an ingrained weekly habit that I expect I’ll keep doing it into the ’20s and beyond.  90% of 2010s chart music, IMO, is awful, but there has been some stuff I like – the more electro-pop direction of the early part of the decade was good, as was the brief folk-rock trend.  Unfortunately the quality seems to have dipped a bit in the last couple of years and at the moment it all seems to be uninspiring EDM, offensively bad sampling of classic ’90s dance, bland forgettable pop-by-numbers and Ed Sheeran ballads.  I can’t remember the last time there was an actual rock song in the charts.

Some stats, ’cause I like stats:

I’ve liked 250 songs from the 2010s enough to add them to my Spotify playlist.

  • 42 from 2010
  • 49 from 2011
  • 26 from 2012
  • 33 from 2013
  • 27 from 2014
  • 20 from 2015
  • 20 from 2016
  • 32 from 2017
  • 1 from 2018 (so far).

My 2010s playlist does get a look-in when I’m in a more dance-y/upbeat mood, but obviously it doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of airtime my 1980s playlist gets.  Nothing beats the ’80s for me as far as pop songs (and, let’s face it, most things) are concerned.

* I’ve never been Too Busy Being Goth to watch Strictly.

2018 Ciders #5: Stowford Press

This is another one I had on my birthday.  Twenty days without a drink!  I don’t think I’ve gone sober for that long since the time I gave it up for Lent in 2011.

Stowford Press
Stowford Press, partially consumed before I remembered to take a picture.

I first discovered Stowford Press in 2006, in the pub in the Somerset village where my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law live.  I think at that point it was still particular to the area – maybe Westons hadn’t rolled it out nationally yet – but it soon became fairly ubiquitous, and nowadays you can get it anywhere there’s a good pub.  It’s probably one of my favourite draught pints; it’s slightly sweeter and lighter than Strongbow, so it goes down a bit easier.  My favourite local pub serves it, so this is another one I expect I’ll be drinking often this year.

’80s jumpers

I’ve been a lot colder than usual this winter.  I’m guessing this is because I’ve lost a lot of weight and so I don’t have that cosy layer of fat keeping me warm anymore.  Luckily, my love of vintage clothing fairs came to the rescue, and so in recent months I have become the shamelessly proud owner of a new collection: a collection of vintage ’80s jumpers.

Me in a vintage '80s jumper
This jumper was labelled a ‘Cosby jumper’ by the vintage stall that was selling it. No, that didn’t put me off it, though I did resist the slightly more garish ones that were next to it. I make no promises for next time, however.

In previous winters, I lived in hoodies.  This was the most practical thing at the time, because the various sources of heating in the house, combined with my larger self’s tendency to overheat every time I did any activity that wasn’t sitting down, meant that I was constantly doing the too-hot-too-cold dance and needed something that was easy to throw on and off.  This winter, though, I’ve found it’s most comfortable to wear something warm and cosy all day long, which is where the jumpers come in.  They’re nice and hardwearing, and there’s never any shortage of them at vintage fairs, so I think they’re going to be my winter go-to for a few years to come.

Pasta

One of my favourite things about the Slimming World plan – and I don’t think I’d have been so successful on it if this hadn’t been the case – is that pasta is a ‘free food’, so you can eat as much of it as you like (within reason – I have been cutting down on my portion sizes as I’ve got closer and closer to target – but I still eat pasta nearly every day):

Pasta and pesto
Pasta and red pesto, my all-time favourite. Used to be a regular meal but now just a ‘treat’ – I need to add lots of veg and use my ‘syns’ to make it Slimming World friendly!

My favourites are Quorn bolognaise, Quorn chicken pesto (after months of unsuccessful attempts to make my own syn-free basil pesto, I gave up and went back to using the stuff in jars for 3 syns per tablespoon), Quorn lasagne (did you guess I’m vegetarian yet?) and, when I’m in a super stodgy high-carb mood, pasta with potatoes, carrots and chickpeas.  I love carbs and I’m so thrilled I’ve found a way to lose weight without having to cut down on them too much.

One of my ambitions for this year is to try and find more pasta favourites.  I’ll keep you posted!

Packing…and shoes

This weekend, I finally got round to starting packing all our stuff up for the move, and immediately remembered that it’s a far bigger job than it seems.  Guess I’m going to be spending tomorrow afternoon drawing up a minute-by-minute immovable schedule for the next few weeks, seeing as we’re on a strict timetable in terms of moving out.  Geth has suggested getting it done bit by bit in the evenings (and is far more excited about it than I am), so it will get done – it just seems like an impossible mountain at the moment.

So far, I’ve packed about 80% of our books (which has reminded me exactly why I asked for a Kindle for Christmas – ideally I’d never buy another physical book again, but not everything is available in ebook format yet, and sometimes for a vintage/retro lover like me it’s nice to have the original physical versions of old books; still, for reasons of space I would need to have a serious book cull before I bought any more physical ones) and about 60% of my shoes.  The shoes take up three holdalls so far and I’m not done yet:

Holdalls full of shoes
Some of my shoes. In the holdalls, the amount looks a lot smaller than when they’re on the shelves, which is quite calming.

I currently have 87 pairs.  I’d have a lot more if I hadn’t forced myself in recent years to be better about chucking them in the bin when they wear out.  I’d also have a lot more if I hadn’t been so broke during my most shoe-obsessive years – much as I’m still magnetically drawn to The Shiny, with age has come (a small amount of) wisdom and nowadays I’m a lot stricter with myself about only buying stuff that I know I’ll definitely wear.

Hopefully, this time next week we’ll have got a lot more of the packing done and I won’t feel quite so stressed about it.