Lesbian bingo

Sunday, 20 July 2008 21:12
strange_complex: (Me Art Deco)
I went on a lovely excursion today with [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau to Hebden Bridge: allegedly, the lesbian hub of Britain.

Glitz knitting on the train )

I'd been there the previous Friday for Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, but had only got to see it relatively briefly and in partial day-light, so when [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau expressed a desire for a Sunday excursion, it seemed like a great opportunity to go back for a proper look. It's ever so picturesque )

The weather, alas, was rather English, which curtailed our photo opportunities, and also put paid to some half-conceived plans to go for a walk along the river. However, so were the people )

In fact, the need to take shelter from regular showers of rain, coupled with the ready availability of charity shops, antique shops and festival stalls, meant that the day ended up developing largely into a very rewarding shopping trip. [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau got two very pretty tops and some nice bread (which I'm sure she will post about shortly), while I got a nice lilac blouse, a very classic-looking battered denim jacket and the purple flared trousers of my dreams! Seriously, they are the trousers my sixteen-year-old self would have died for - except that back then, they would have fallen off my hips. Now, however, they fit perfectly. Yes, there may be some advantages to growing into a slightly more womanly figure, after all...

Oh, and I got one other thing too. *embarrassed shuffle* A thing I knew about, but had actually consciously planned not to buy, lest it shatter my fannish illusions. As Glitzy will testify, though, it was Not My Fault - it just fell on me in an antiques shop. For £4. So now I have a copy of Who On Earth Is Tom Baker?. Oops!?

strange_complex: (Apollo Belvedere)
Yesterday, I enjoyed a splendid day out in Manchester. I caught the train west across the Pennines in brilliant sunshine, reading Robert Harris' Pompeii as I went (and noting down the page numbers of all the things in it that annoyed me), and met up with [livejournal.com profile] angeoverhere and [livejournal.com profile] johnnydefective at the station. We proceeded for lunch at a delicious dim-sum place, where ladies with trolleys and trays kept bringing round more and more delicacies, and we just said 'yes' to whatever we wanted. Conversation encompassing jobs, houses, incoming babies, geeky T-shirts and the crazy antics of mutual friends flowed across the pork dumplings and on through town to the Art Gallery, where we enjoyed a post-prandial hot beverage while M's chair vibrated inexplicably.

At 2pm, there was a changeover of personnel: [livejournal.com profile] angeoverhere and [livejournal.com profile] johnnydefective departed to buy curtains, while I rendezvoused with [livejournal.com profile] miss_dark, [livejournal.com profile] vonheath and [livejournal.com profile] foxy76 for an afternoon of Art and Cake. We had a marvellous time wandering through the galleries discussing severed legs, decomposing eyes, family secrets and ugly crockery, interspersed in a most civilised fashion with further refreshments in the cafe. My favourite gallery was, predictably enough, the Victorian pre-Raphaelite section, which had lots of delicious Classicising scenes from the brushes of Alma-Tadema, Albert Moore and the like. I came away with postcards of this gloomily erotic Sappho by Charles-August Mengin, this Delphic Sibyl (who reminded me of [livejournal.com profile] thebiomechanoid) by Burne-Jones, and this Chariot Race by Alexander von Wagner, which was inspired by Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur.

I also bought one more postcard of a work which had stopped me in my tracks as we were going round the gallery with its sheer preposterousness )

It wasn't until I got home and actually looked at the back of the postcard that I realised it was in fact by my favourite Bad Artist ever, William Holman Hunt, who also produced this brilliant piece of creative anachronism )

That one, I'm happy to say, hangs in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, so that I have had the pleasure of seeing it, too, in all its canvassy glory. I now feel flushed with the desire to go on an ironic Holman Hunt pilgrimage, seeking out, viewing and *koff* 'appreciating' all his works in galleries across the globe.

Anyway, after having our artly fill, [livejournal.com profile] miss_dark, [livejournal.com profile] foxy76 and I went on a very profitable shopping trip to Primark, and then wended our way eastwards again, discussing weddings and offering advice to my sister about carrot cake icing as we went. I had at one point intended to go out to Wendyhouse in the evening, but I realised that being in a fit state to do some work today wouldn't be a bad idea, given that our students arrive tomorrow, so I forewent the pleasure. And so I have spent today finishing off my curtains, doing washing and writing documentation for my new courses in a very pleasant and relaxed fashion.

strange_complex: (Me Half Age party)
Well, that was an absolutely lovely birthday.

I spent the morning loafing around in my dressing gown, opening presents, responding to LJ comments and setting up a Scrabble game on Facebook. My sister had sent me a Porpora CD from my Amazon wish-list that I'd wanted for ages, so I'm really happy about that although I haven't listened to it yet, as well as a brilliant book on Art Deco houses, which wasn't on my wish-list, but was a really excellent choice. I spent ages sitting on the sofa, poring over it wonder and awe, and occasionally getting to say things like, "Ooh, my window catches are like that!" It's great, and will be a very handy guide to choosing the right sorts of rugs, light-shades and so on.

Mum and Dad had also sent me a couple of CDs, but they weren't my 'real' present - just copies they'd made, in fact. No, my real present is this lamp:

Pic under here )

It's stood for years in a pub in the centre of Birmingham, where my Dad likes to go on a Saturday afternoon to mark people's PhD theses, and whose landlady he has become good chums with over the years. So of course he told her about my new house, and she'd already said that if he ever wanted any of the nick-nacks in the pub, he just had to make an offer. And he did! It's not here yet, but it looks like Dad will be making another visit late next week to help me sort my curtains out, so he will probably bring it with him then.

After lunch, I finally got dressed, and headed into town for some Serious Shopping. Two pairs of shoes, innumerable hair accessories and biscuits and a large roll of fabric later, I arrived in the Swan so laden down with packages I was having trouble getting through doors, to be joined by no less than six lovely friends. And since I'd only decided to do anything on my actual birthday at 1pm that day, I was touched beyond belief that so many people were willing to come out and join me with only 4 hours' notice. I think that's a real sign of being properly settled in here now, if I have friends who'll do that.

Finally headed home at about 7pm, and then just whiled away the rest of the evening eating my dinner, watching House and working out how to use the staple-gun I've bought in order to re-cover my dining chairs. Just perfect, really.

strange_complex: (Cities Esteban butterfly)
So - yeah. Now that I am over the immediate trauma of breaking my glasses (but not by any means the underlying *grrrrr*), let me tell you about my weekend.

Friday night was very sociable - you could even have accused me of being a bit of a butterfly. First an hour in the Wrens with [livejournal.com profile] nalsa, [livejournal.com profile] maviscruet, their young ladies and assorted other friends, during which we discussed flickr business cards, the top three best-known British monarchs and the fall of the Roman empire. Next, a curry at Hansa's with [livejournal.com profile] hieroglyphe and [livejournal.com profile] johnnydefective, over which we talked about academic job prospects, [livejournal.com profile] johnnydefective's naughty office pranks and filmage in general. Finally, down to the station to meet up with The Sisterly One and her partner (Nicolas), who were coming to stay for the weekend.

We were all kinda knackered after we got back to my flat, since they'd had a whole day of work plus a long train journey, while I'd been cleaning the house all day and then butterflying all evening. But not so knackered we didn't have time to chat for a while and for me to give Charlotte an early birthday present (her actual birthday is today - woo!).

Saturday saw us heading off on a big adventure - to Roundhay Park Tropical World! Yay! It was very hot inside, but we saw lots of extremely cute and interesting animals, such as ring-tailed lemurs, bushbabies, lion-faced golden tamarins, blue macaws, enormous carp, bats, striped grass mice, turtles, snakes and meerkats! (*squee-squee-squee*) They were definitely the best - and come to think of it, I'm not sure I've ever seen them in real life before. So that was cool.

After Tropical World, we ate much-needed ice-creams, and took a long walk round the park, seeing people playing cricket, a fake castle and millions and millions of seething tadpoles as we did. Then it was across Leeds by bus to show off my new house and have coffee in Headingley, before heading on down to the Hyde Park Picture House to see Sunshine - more about that in a separate 'films watched 2007' post.

Sunday was quiet and chilled, after a lot of walking around outdoors the previous day But we did find time to simultaneously look at architecture and do some shopping in Leeds city centre. Charlotte got some nice skirts, I got rechargeable batteries for my digital camera and some pretty sandals for the summer, and Nicolas got some good photos of the Edwardian arcades.

Finally, they headed off to catch their train, since Charlotte wanted to be back in London for the day of her actual birthday, and I pootled off home to enjoy the previous evening's Doctor Who. Which seemed solidly back on track after the slight wibble that had been the Dalek two-parter.

So nice all round, really. Just a pity I had to top it off today by breaking my glasses!

strange_complex: (Snape writing)
1. Last Wednesday - went off for the day with Mum on the Severn Valley Railway. We saw partridges, pheasants, rabbits, butterflies, great crested grebe, elephants, bison and gazelle. Although I suppose it's only fair to explain that the last three were in a safari park visible from the railway. Enjoyed a lovely picnic at Arley, then walked along the river a bit, glorying in the warm weather. All the way there and back, I examined properties along the route with a buyer's eye. I can't help it now - force of habit.

2. On that note, I'm still waiting to hear about the house. My first offer was rejected; I raised it to what was my absolute upper limit and said so; the seller relayed that it was rather less than she wanted but she'd think about it; I enquired again of the estate agents on Friday, but they said she still hadn't decided. I do know that no other offers have been made, though. So ideally she'll wait a bit longer, see that no-one else is offering and accept my bid. Two people saw it over the weekend, apparently, but I know a lot of people have seen it by now and very few have offered, so I'm cautiously hopeful.

3. Thursday to Saturday saw me attending the annual Classical Association conference. Well, actually it carried on this morning too, but I decided to bunk the last part for the sake of a lie-in and some more relaxed parent time. I must say it was probably the best CA conference I've been to (out of three altogether) in terms of papers and general conviviality. Logistics perhaps not so great - it was in a fairly second-rate hotel, with not wonderful food and tedious queues at the lifts to move around the building. But I spent the conference dinner last night (in the much nicer surroundings of the University of Birmingham's Great Hall) with a big grin on my face, feeling on a high from the whole experience. There's too much to record now, of course, but highlights were the comedy caretaker during John Henderson's opening lecture, some cracking panels on Roman cities and all flavours of Classical Receptions (including Buffy and Achilles / Patroclus m-preg fanfics), and all the lovely people I got to catch up with.

4. Did some enjoyable shopping in Brum on Saturday afternoon - scheduled as excursion time for conference-goers, but I'd been to all the places they suggested visiting many times before, having grown up here. Surprised myself slightly by buying some baseball boots - not my normal style, but I really was desperate for new shoes by this stage, and I think they can become my style. Also got CivCity: Rome, which I've wanted for about a year now, ever since I first heard it was coming out, and was reminded of by a great session on Classics in computer games at the conference. And I enjoyed just generally wandering around Birmingham city centre, experiencing the weird combination of things which haven't changed at all and things which are totally unrecognisable, and exploring the various memories which streets and buildings threw up in my mind. I'm proud of my roots here.

5. Term starts again tomorrow. Wah! Only two weeks of teaching and one of revision classes, but they're going to be pretty tough. I'm more-or-less ready, but have a lot to do over the next few days.

6. Haven't seen this week's Who yet, as I was out at the dinner last night, and now my parents' cable box is broken! So that will have to be squeezed in over the next few days too. Have been reading people's online reactions, though. It seems to have provoked quite a lot of discussion and some division.

7. I am travelling home first class in the train tonight, because there was a cheap weekend upgrade available, and I've always wanted to try it out. It'll be a bit different from the Severan Valley Railway, where we were in a third-class compartment!

Easter weekend

Monday, 9 April 2007 14:31
strange_complex: (Cocoa beans)
On Saturday, my Mum and I went shopping in Solihull - an extremely posh suburb of Birmingham which likes to pretend it has nothing to do with Birmingham whatsoever. There, I noticed that both John Lewis and Beatties sold miniature morning coats and pinstripe suits for tiny little children - presumably so that they can be page-boys at weddings and so on. SO CUTE!

My main mission was to buy shoes and bras, since I'm getting dangerously close to having no wearable examples of either. Since I was effectively going to have to start my bra wardrobe again from scratch, I got myself measured up, figuring I might as well do it properly. For years, I've believed I was a 34B, but it turned out I'm actually a 32C - a significant (and rather pleasing!) difference, as female readers will realise. So I'm now feeling a lot more comfy in the bosom region.

Pity I can't say the same for my feet, though. Of course, when I say 'shoes', I actually mean 'ankle-boots', since that's all I ever wear. But there are next to none in the shops at this time of year, and what there are are all hideous. So I gave up in the end, and consoled myself by buying a posh frock for my cousin's wedding in June, instead.

In the evening, still in my old, nearly-dead shoes, I went over to [livejournal.com profile] hollyione's parents' house, where she (like me) was spending Easter weekend at the family homestead. We watched Doctor Who with her two-year-old daughter, who was allowed to stay up for it specially, and then ate yummy kebabs and played Trivial Pursuit with her parents. The game never quite got finished, as everyone became very merry and eventually had to toddle off to bed, but it was lots of fun, and [livejournal.com profile] hollyione and I as the last two players agreed to declare an honourable and amicable draw.

Sunday was mainly Verulamium-article-writing, but there was a bit of chocolate-egg-exchanging too, while in the evening we ate a delicious juicy duck. I then wound up the day by rewatching Doctor Who, as there were quite a few bits of dialogue I'd missed the previous day while [livejournal.com profile] hollyione's daughter was trying to decide whether she was scared of the witches or not!

It definitely rewarded a second watching, though. I got the chance to notice things like the conversation over the TARDIS console at the very beginning of the episode, where Martha is asking how exactly the TARDIS can travel in time, and the Doctor replies with something like, "Oh, you've got to take the magic out of everything haven't you - it just does!", thus establishing the magic / technology issue right from the opening scene. And how cool that Queen Elizabeth is his sworn enemy, even though he's never met her! I can't see an obvious episode in the coming series where that will be resolved, so I take it as a long-term promise for an Elizabethan story involving her as a character - ideally while we still have David Tennant, to explain how she recognises him. And I like that we're dealing with a series which troubles to set up long-term plot elements like that.

Oh! And a thought: since Shakespeare is set up earlier in the episode as being so very perceptive (noticing how old the Doctor's eyes are, and how Martha looks at him as though she can't believe he exists), does this mean we are to take him 100% seriously when he says to Martha that the Doctor will never kiss her? (Excepting, of course, the fact that he already has - I mean kiss her in lurve?) Or is it just a corny line to get himself a snog? Discuss!

Meanwhile, in the realm of the scarily-real, I have made an offer on this house. But not heard anything back yet. Wah, the frustration! I'm on tenterhooks about it all the time, waiting, and wondering, and trying to second-guess what's going on in the seller's mind. It's like waiting to hear about a job interview.

Well, you'll hear about it here when I do!

strange_complex: (Bettie Page shoes)
To celebrate having a free day on Saturday, I first enjoyed a big fat lie-in, then took a leisurely breakfast, watched some TV, noodled on the 'net, and finally headed into town to complete a few shopping missions I hadn't had time to attend to for the past week or so. I needed to stock up on things like shampoo and so on from Boots, but it had also become urgent that I buy a new pair of actual boots. So urgent, in fact, that I'd got to the point of being faced each morning with the choice of wearing either a) a pair of boots with one missing sole, a broken shank1 and a rapidly disintegrating interior or b) a pair of boots with the bottom of one heel missing. Usually, pair b) won out - but it was clear that this state of affairs could not go on.

I wasn't really looking forward to the boot shopping very much, as I have terrible trouble finding boots I like which are appropriate for work. I've railed in this journal before about those stupid heels which are placed right at the back of the boots, I don't like wedges, and I don't want to wear anything more than about 2.5 inches high for the sake of comfort. So there's not much on the contemporary high street which I really want to wear.

However, yesterday the Shoe Gods were clearly with me, as I walked into Clarks, saw a pair of boots I liked straight away, tried them on and found that they fitted beautifully. I can't find a picture of them online that I can link to, but they're Victorian-looking black leather ankle-boots, with cosmetic laces up the front, a practical zip up the side and a nice-looking heel about 2" high. Plus, they were in the sale. Yay!

Thanks to Clarks, I'd got everything done I needed to do within an hour of leaving the house, so I used the time I'd expected to spend trudging gloomily around boot-shops checking out mobile phone deals instead, with an eye to the upcoming end of my current contract with Vodafone on 27th February. This is what I found, in the sort of price-range I'm willing to pay and with the sort of features I want:

NetworkVodafoneO23T-mobileOrange
Plan150 AnytimeOnline 25X-Series SilverFlextDolphin
Monthly charge£25£25£22.50 for 8 months, then £40£27.50£35
Insurance£6.95£7.50£5.99£5.99£6
Minutes150200300c. 85250
Texts5005001000c. 170250
Internet allowanceReally unclear1Mb then £3 per Mb1Gb1Gb£1 per Mb
HandsetSony V630iAnyNokia N73Nokia 6253Most
Contract18 months18 months18 months18 months12 months


Given that I'm currently paying £30 per month for a mere 25 minutes, 250 texts and no internet allowance, those all look pretty tempting. In fact, I think I'm most tempted by the T-mobile Flext deal. Although the numbers of minutes and texts are a bit lower on that deal than some of the others, you can actually use up an overall 'allowance' on whichever you like, which is rather nice, and I very much doubt on current usage levels that I'd feel restricted by it. And that lovely, ripe 1Gb of internet usage is very tempting! Although my current phone can theoretically access the internet, I never use it, because I have no idea how much it will cost me, and suspect it might be rather a lot. A 1Gb allowance basically means being free to surf as much as I like, in practical terms, and the web browser the guy in the shop showed me looked pretty decent, too. Although I probably won't make as much use of it now as I might have done a year ago (when I was spending at least nine hours on trains a week), I can still see how it could be really handy for things like house moves (which I know needs to happen again fairly soon), trips away and so on.

If anyone has any thoughts on that deal, or any of the others, or any general experiences with any companies other than Vodafone (the only company I've ever used so far) which you think I should know about, speak up!
-----------------
1. The steel 'backbone' of most heeled boots. You know it's broken when the heel no longer stays solid in relation to the boot, will move about if pushed by a hand and feels like it's slipping out behind you when you walk.
strange_complex: (Leeds owl)
...keeping me up all night!

Actually, they aren't really owls, but apparently some openings in the roofing of the flats where I live, which make hooting sounds exactly like owls when the wind blows through them. Which was most of last night. Still, it gives me a great opportunity to introduce my latest icon (man, I just love the way us permies get yet another new one every few months!).

This particular owl may be found outside Leeds' Civic Hall, where he and a feathery friend stand as proud emblems of the city - whose patron goddess must therefore logically be Minerva. Now that I actually live in Leeds, I felt the need for a 'Leeds - town' icon to supplement the 'Leeds - gown' aspect represented by my Parkinson building one. So that's his job. Meanwhile, in the background, is Shelley's rendering of the Homeric hymn to his mistress, the first few lines of which run thus:

I sing the glorious Power with azure eyes... )

Hooting aside, I am having a very lovely weekend, which so far has included:
  • Going shopping and buying a very lovely fifties-esque dark purple party frock for upcoming Christmas dos
  • Getting the flat properly clean and tidy
  • Painting my toe-nails
  • Dying my hair (that one's happening right now)
  • Doing some very fruitful and rewarding Alessandro Moreschi research
  • Making lots of interesting notes (so far in English) for the Italian presentation I have to give on Tuesday
  • Some cracking lie-ins
Later on, [livejournal.com profile] my_mundane_life will be coming to stay over en route to an interview she has here tomorrow, and we will be going out for dinner with [livejournal.com profile] hieroglyphe. And in the meantime, I'd better get this dye off my hair and start turning those notes into an actual presentation, that's actually in Italian...

strange_complex: (Lady Penelope)
Woot! I have prepared two classes' worth of stuff for the summer school today. That plus the fact that there isn't a class on Wednesday morning means I now don't need to do any more work on it (other than teach the actual classes, natch) until Wednesday itself, when I shall begin preparing Thursday's class. And there are only three classes this week anyway (four is more normal), so by 9:30am on Thursday morning, I'll be done for the week. Should stand a real chance of getting some of my own stuff done this week, then.

Backtracking a little, Smell tests in Warwick )

Purcell's Fairy Queen )

Framing, furnishings, chocolate and Dr. Who )

So, quite busy, and I'm pretty tired (as ever!), but feeling much better about things now. The summer school nearly got on top of me the week before it started, but I've turned things round now, and I'm definitely back on top of it. Now time for an early night, so I'm ready to teach again tomorrow at 8:30(!)...
strange_complex: (Default)
When I first moved to Belfast, I was told that the weather was extremely changeable here, and that people often spoke of experiencing 'four seasons in one day'.

Today, I walked into town in the early afternoon in order to do a bit of shopping. As I left my house, I sighed with pleasure at the feel of the sun's warmth on my skin, and looked up into a blue sky punctuated by fluffy white clouds. I walked town-wards for a couple of minutes, and then felt a heavy drop of rain on my eyebrow... quickly followed by a succession of several more. Hoiking my umbrella out of my bag, I looked up to see that the sky had turned a uniform iron gray, and I was surprised to hear a rumble of thunder. Being British, I carried out walking through the downpour, gamely pointing my umbrella into the biting wind which had by now arisen. A mere minute more, and a new development occurred: suddenly, the plummeting rain turned to hail. Hail, in fact, which fell more heavily and more thickly than I believe I've ever seen hail do before. Fearing for the health of my umbrella, I renounced my Britishness after all and took shelter in a bus-stop, joining a young couple in T-shirts, who were shivering and gaping in awe at the natural spectacle we were witnessing. After two minutes of mutual wowing, the hail ceased as quickly as it had begun, and I set off on my way once more, crunching and sliding a little over the layer of fallen hailstones as I did so. By the time I was approaching the town centre, five minutes later, it was warm again, and dark sections of pavement were literally steaming as the sun hit them and the melted remains of the hailstones condensed off into the atmosphere.

Next time, I think I will get the bus.

My shopping in town was fairly boring, but on the way back home I dropped into 'Rusty Zip', a retro clothing store on Botanic Avenue. There, I bought a beautiful halterneck party dress in a shiny fabric which is black in some lights and a rich, dark purple in others. I also bought a large puffy skirt, much like the bottom half of a ball-gown, in a bright purple satiny fabric. It is floor-length, and apparently designed with one simple aim in mind - to be as HYUGE as possible. I do believe that if I filled it with hot air, I could hang a basket from it and fly across the Atlantic. And I love it!

However, it has a flaw, which is that some kind of liquid has obviously been spilt over it in the past, in quite significant quantities. It's left water-marks in several places, so I need to find a suitable way of cleaning it to get these out. However, it has no washing instructions on it - in fact, I think it may be hand-made. So I'm uncertain as to whether I can hand-wash it, or whether it might need taking to the dry-cleaners. I'm also doubtful about whether they would be able to do anything about water-marks anyway, so I'm hoping I can hand-wash it.

Under the cut which follows is a scan of a section of the skirt, complete with one of the worst stains. The stripey effect in the picture is just a peculiarity of my scanner: in real life, the fabric is a smooth, shiny texture, with consistent colouring. It has a slightly crinkly feel when you rub it between your fingers, and I would guess has quite a lot of nylon in it. Underneath is a layer of white netting and a lining of thin white material which I am almost certain is nylon.

My instinct is that I probably can hand-wash this... but if anyone who knows a thing or two about fabrics would care to take a look at the scan and comment, I would be very grateful for any advice.

Stained patch under here )

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