strange_complex: (Cities condor in flight)
Last week I wrote about [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan's and my visit to the Mossman Carriage Collection in Luton. That, though, was only the first leg of our Hammer-related weekend of adventure. After exhausting the delights of Luton, we continued onwards in a south-easterly direction, over the Dartford Crossing (which confused us considerably by turning out to be a bridge rather than a tunnel), and towards the pleasant sea-side town of Whitstable. Why Whitstable, you may well ask? Well, because Hammer stalwart and [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan's on-screen boyfriend Mr. Peter Cushing lived there from 1959 until his death in 1994.

We had booked ourselves into a nice little B&B on the edge of the town, where we arrived about 6pm on the Saturday. That gave us an initial evening to explore and have dinner, followed by a good full day on Sunday to complete our Peter Cushing tour. Equipped with maps and a list of places to visit culled from the internet we took in the following locations:

Peter Cushing's house )

The Cushing bench and view )

The Tudor Tea Rooms )

The Peter Cushing pub )

Whitstable Museum )

Not directly Cushing-related Whitstable experiences )

Even if you're not that bothered about Peter Cushing, I can certainly recommend a visit to Whitstable. And if you are, I think you will definitely come away understanding him quite a lot better than you did before. It is well-to-do, full of charming and welcoming people, and replete with a spirit and character all of its own. But it has the feeling of hailing from another age at the same time, and I can't imagine it has changed very fundamentally since Peter first moved there in the 1950s. And I can see all of that really suiting him, both in the early years with Helen and in his later life. A quaint and quiet retreat from the bustle of London and the film-sets where he worked; a genteel and unchanging world where he could be acclaimed and valued without being mobbed. Yes, I can really see him loving that, and being loved for it by the locals in return. The fact that some of them wrote this song about how cool it was to have him living in their town now makes complete and utter sense:


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strange_complex: (Dracula 1958 cloak)
My research leave really has officially finished now, and I am back in the full throes of teaching and admin duties. The teaching I don't mind, but the admin - ugh! I haven't missed that. Death by Meetings, basically.

Still, I made sure my last weekend of freedom was a good one. I've been meaning for a long time to visit the Doctor Who and Me exhibition currently running at the National Media Museum in Bradford, which is all about the history of Doctor Who fandom since the programme began, and consists almost entirely of items lent to the museum by fans. So when the lovely [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours invited me to join a contingent of geeks from Manchester who were coming over to see it for a day-trip, I jumped at the chance - especially since said contingent turned out also to contain the equally-lovely [livejournal.com profile] minnesattva and (non-Mancunian) magister.

We had an awesome time, discussing which exact episode a particular Cyberman outfit was modelled on, inventing Cyberman onesies, working out which of us would be safe from Daleks due to their inexplicable inability to perceive the colour red, and generally bouncing enthusiastically off each other's geekiness, which is a highly-recommended way to spend time. My personal favourite items from the exhibition itself were:

Fan quotation, Bradford Doctor Who exhibition
One of many fan quotations printed on the walls, which I'm not entirely sure really makes sense or indeed describes Doctor Who terribly accurately, but sounds cool anyway.

Docteur Qui, Bradford Doctor Who exhibition
Phono Paul's TARDIS, Bradford Doctor Who exhibition
Easily the best piece of fan-art in the show. I've seen pictures of it online before, but it was great to see it in the flesh.
A full-sized TARDIS which belongs to a friend of several people I know, and which was liberated from his shed and erected for the exhibition by a crack team including [livejournal.com profile] big_daz and [livejournal.com profile] nigelmouse.

It's not a huge exhibition, so within about an hour we had had our fill, and went off in search of food instead - which we found in high-quality but very reasonably-priced form at a place called Glyde House just opposite the museum. Definitely better than the OK but rather over-priced cafe in the museum itself, and an excellent place to shelter from the apocalyptic weather raging outside.

Then we discussed what to do with the afternoon. Most of the Manchester geek contingent had already made plans to catch the 3:30 train back home, but [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours, [livejournal.com profile] minnesattva, magister and I wanted to hang around until more like 5ish, when the also-lovely1 miss_s_b and [twitter.com profile] A_C_McGregor would be joining us after the former had finished work. And I happened to have noticed that the Media Museum was screening the restored version of Hammer's Dracula that very afternoon at 3:10, which pretty much exactly filled that gap. So yeah, I went to see Dracula on the big screen AGAIN. It would've been rude not to, right?

4. Dracula (1958), dir. Terence Fisher )

Anyway, 1.5 hours spent watching Dracula are never wasted, and by the time they were finished, miss_s_b and [twitter.com profile] A_C_McGregor were waiting for us outside the cinema. So we all headed off for booze followed by curry, with a lot of laughing, more geekery and some bonus libdemmery along the way.

The following day, after sleeping off the excesses of the previous evening, I headed over to [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan and [livejournal.com profile] planet_andy's house. After presenting [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan with two new additions to her collection of Frightful Fridge Magnets, bought on my recent trip to Rome, we looked through the pictures she had taken the previous weekend at Wendyhouse, which are jolly impressive, and will be appearing on a website near you before very long. Then we settled down for another dose of vintage filmy goodness.

5. The Invisible Man (1933), dir. James Whale )

Anyway, definitely worth seeing, and now that we have discovered the sequel stars none other than the marvellous Vincent Price, we might well be tracking that down very soon...


1. Basically, all of my friends are lovely, but I see no harm in saying this explicitly whenever I happen to mention them directly in a post, rather than leaving it unstated.

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Weekending

Sunday, 18 July 2010 22:03
strange_complex: (Cities Esteban butterfly)
I've had a very lovely weekend, centred around a visit from my old chum [livejournal.com profile] hollyione (aka Amy), her very-nearly-six-year-old daughter Holly and her partner Pete. It's always nice to have guests, as it provides a great excuse to go off and do fun local things which you don't normally bother with on your own, and it's especially nice when those guests are such congenial people to have around. Amy, Pete and I seemed to spend most of our time joking, laughing and sharing our enjoyment of the various things we went to see and do, while Holly was extremely well-behaved - and of course also full of laughter, high-spirits and funny observations in the way that six-year-old children usually are.

Our main excursion was to the National Media Museum in Bradford - the same place that I go to for the Fantastic Films Weekend, but this time in its everyday capacity as a museum. I've looked around the exhibits a bit while there previously for the festivals, but they're more extensive than I'd realised, and really well-designed for children. We played vintage video and arcade games, looked at televisions, video recorders and cameras from the earliest days of TV to the present day, played around in a mock-television studio, pretended to read the news, messed around with strange mirrors and lighting effects, and watched an episode of Mr. Benn together - a nostalgia trip for the three adults, but a new discovery for Holly. Amy was amazed that it was all available to visit for free, and she was right - we're very lucky to have it.

Being out with a child certainly makes you see things in a different way )

Afterwards we wandered through a surprisingly sunny Bradford, where the locals were out and about enjoying a street market and a vintage car rally, and where Amy bought Prosecco while Pete was given a free two-minute Indian head massage. Then we returned home for dinner and a local cinema trip to see Shrek Forever After, which I shall write up separately, and which Holly seemed to enjoy. And today we indulged ourselves in the charity shops of Headingley, had a nice lunch together and walked home past some Scottish country dancers strutting their stuff at a school fête, before my guests had to pile themselves in the car and hit the road for the journey back home to Bristol.

I should add that in the evenings while little Holly slumbered upstairs, we adults settled down with Prosecco and G&Ts to enjoy some more grown-up activities. Well... slightly more grown-up, anyway. We played a few rounds of Eat Poop You Cat, for which I owe a huge debt to [livejournal.com profile] whatifoundthere for alerting me to the game's existence. Unlike her, I can't scan our efforts, because my scanner is currently bust, but I can tell you that we collectively managed to transform the simple phrase "Highway to Hell" into the sentence, "You can listen to great music along the road to hell, but the reception on your car radio may be affected by lightning storms", and also "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" (Amy's contribution, not mine!) into "Dog punt atom mother".

We also watched a couple of episodes of Blake's 7 - though unfortunately not starting with the first one, which would have been the most logical for me, as it was missing from Amy's box-set. That meant that it took me a while to tune in to the characters, but by the end of the second episode I'd definitely warmed to Cally, Jenna, Avon and Vila (for rather different reasons in each case). I also appreciated the way that the stories didn't always end neatly or happily in the same way that they do on Doctor Who (not that I dislike that in Who - but it's nice to see a different approach). I've still got a lot of Doctor Who to watch (and write up for that matter), but I'm definitely up for some more Blake's 7 at some point.

So, yes - a great weekend. I'm a bit physically tired now, but mentally refreshed and ready to face the week. Wonder if that will last into tomorrow morning? ;-)

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strange_complex: (True Blood Eric wink)
I've been having a pretty lazy, undemanding weekend - much needed after the last month and a half of zipping around the place and being intensively driven and intellectual all the time. I slept in till midday today and yesterday, and have been spending most of my waking hours lying on the sofa in my dressing-gown, drinking coffee, reading the internet and watching the snooker (which is throwing up a lot of surprises this year - but mainly nice ones as far as I'm concerned).

The only thing I can be said to have 'achieved' this weekend is to make the attached icon, which took me through quite a steep learning-curve with Adobe ImageReady (it's only the second animated icon I have ever made), but which I am now really proud of and very slightly in love with. I believe I have tipped over in this last week from thinking that True Blood is a pretty cool show which I'm careful never to miss an episode of, into full-blown squeeing fandom of the type which causes one to join fan communities ([livejournal.com profile] trueblood_lj seems to be the main one round these parts) and conceive crushes on regular characters.

[livejournal.com profile] lefaym made an excellent post a few weeks ago pointing out some of the many things which True Blood is getting right - well-realised characters; complex situations without simple solutions; and prominent black, female, queer and working-class characters whose lives and experiences are taken seriously and explored without the suggestion that they should somehow be ashamed or self-loathing about their under-privileged identities. I can't really improve upon [livejournal.com profile] lefaym's analysis, but I will also add that another big draw for me is the dialogue. It's sometimes very powerful, it does a brilliant job at revealing character and pushing on the plot without ever feeling forced, but most of all it regularly manages to be crackingly laugh-out-loud funny. There are a few quotations here, but TBH they don't really work out of context. They work because they all fit so well in the mouths of the characters they come out of, and in the structure of the scenes where they occur - and that is precisely why this is such a good show and so satisfying to watch.

Anyway, I did manage to get myself up off the sofa and dressed and over to Manchester yesterday evening for [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau and [livejournal.com profile] biascut's house-warming party. It was lovely to see them all set up and bright and cosy in there. I last saw the house on their first day in it, when it was mainly all boxes and make-shift furniture, but they have already made a massive difference to it in only two months, and it feels properly like their own glorious domain now. Filling it up with bright, interesting people and food and wine last night was the icing on the cake, really - as a house-warming should be.

It was also nice to discover that the trains between Leeds and Manchester really do mean that I can breeze out of the house on a summer evening with nothing but a little money and my house-keys in my pocket, sail over the Pennines in fading sunshine, spend a decent evening with fine people on the north edge of the city centre, and still be back safely curled up in my own bed by 1 in the morning. I've not really tried doing that before, but it opens up new social opportunities now that I know how easy it is.

Now it's about time I watched my recording of last night's Doctor Who so that I can find out what everyone's posts and comments about River Song's identity and Amy's developing character actually mean. Oh, it's a hard life...

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strange_complex: (Nennig musicians)
I spent the weekend in Birmingham on a parental visit, vaguely structured around going to a concert in Warwick on the Sunday afternoon. Mum is looking slimmer and stronger every time I see her now that she has come off the steroids, though she is still slow and wobbly compared to how she was before she became ill. She likes going for walks around the neighbourhood to build up her strength, so on Saturday afternoon we walked along the local part of the Rea valley trail past playing-fields, dog-walkers and children on bicycles, while on Sunday morning we went up into Bournbrook to have a look at the massive demolition, river-culverting and road-construction works which are under way with the aim of completely changing the course of the main traffic flow through that area. It will definitely alter the landscape of my child-hood – but less so than I'd thought from what I'd heard about the project. In fact, as we walked around we passed my old piano-teacher's house, my old Brownie hall and even the row of purportedly-temporary huts on the University campus where my mother used to take me for the Mothers and Toddlers club when I was all of one year old. So I don't think I need to get too concerned about having my past erased.

The concert in Warwick is described under here )

Meanwhile, being in Warwick gave us a chance to drop in on Charlotte and Nicolas after the concert, which was great because I haven't seen their new house since the day they moved in. It's now looking a lot more cosy, with a lovely big soft sofa in the front room, a nice antique-looking coffee table and an iron-framed bed upstairs. We were also able to have a quick look through their wedding photo album, which our cousins (who did the photos) finally got round to putting together last month – only six months after the wedding. ;-) It's lovely, though – there are some absolutely gorgeous photos of Charlotte looking like someone out of a bridal magazine, all the standard shots you would expect of people processing out of the church and standing in groups, but also lots of lovely 'behind-the-scenes' shots of people who didn't know they were being photographed, laughing and smiling and playing silly jokes. It really captures the day very nicely, and I think was worth waiting for.

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Weekend doings

Monday, 8 March 2010 11:52
strange_complex: (La Dolce Vita Trevi)
As for the weekend, I spent Saturday sleeping in blissfully, and then lounging around in my dressing-gown on the sofa, drinking coffee, writing about Doctor Who and finally watching the end of Dollhouse. Even the Sci-Fi channel had clearly more-or-less given up on this, as last weekend they stopped bothering to show it one episode a week, and just broadcast the three remaining episodes in one blast after midnight on Saturday. I couldn't watch it at the time due to preparing for my Newcastle paper, but recorded it, and watched the rest over the course of the week.

It was very much about getting the plot finished in the end, to the extent that I found myself caring less and less about most of the characters with each subsequent episode, even though I had two seasons of investment in them behind me. I could have done without the programme's one portrayal of an emerging lesbian relationship appearing as such a very token, last-minute gesture, and it also didn't make much sense to me that those characters who wanted to retain the changes which they had experienced since the mindwipe technology was first applied needed to stay underground for an entire year to escape the potential effects of Topher's 'reset' pulse. All the same, it's nice to see it all wrapped up, and I genuinely did like the way that the relationship between Adelle and Topher was portrayed in the final episode.

Sunday dawned all bright and springy, so I leapt out of bed and cavorted around the house to 1920s music, cleaning and vacuuming, before heading over to Harrogate to spend the afternoon with [livejournal.com profile] kissmeforlonger in the Steam Baths. This was something I'd never done before, and I really enjoyed it - partly for the experience in itself, but of course also because of its Roman resonances.

The décor was a luxurious Victorian take on Turkish / Moorish architecture: all carved wood, coloured tiles and more-than-semicircular arches. But there were elements which were definitely reminiscent of Roman baths, such as marble benches and in some rooms mosaic under-heated floors. I'm not sure whether these were straightforwardly preserved in the Moorish tradition, or re-integrated into the mix when the idea of steam bathing was re-discovered by northern Europeans. The big difference from Roman bathing is that most of the rooms did not have pools for complete immersion in the water - there was only one, for cold plunging. But the sequences of rooms - warm, hot, steamy and cool - were very much in the Roman tradition. And I made damn sure that I gave myself a good dunk in the cold pool at the end, because this is one of the aspects of Roman bathing which modern observers find hardest to grasp - "What? They sat around in increasingly warmer rooms all afternoon and then jumped in a cold bath? Were they mad?" Actually, though, it was (as [livejournal.com profile] kissmeforlonger had promised me), very invigorating after all that lying around and sweating, and nothing like as much of a shock to the system as I'd expected, given that I was already so very thoroughly warmed through.

We went to a ladies-only session, which was course again entirely in keeping with Roman practices. And, on a modern level, it was very lovely to just sit around alternately chatting to one another, and listening to the voices of the other women around us lazily reverberating around the tiled walls. There was a lot of just lying there and letting the warmth lull us into a delicious trance; and afterwards when we came out we found that we were both almost too sleepy to think, and just wanted to go home and go to sleep. Which was largely the point, I think.

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strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
I spent the weekend sleeping, marking, and making Christmas pudding. Since I don't do proper cookery very often, and indeed have never made a Christmas pudding before, I took a few pictures of the process )

It was fun to do, and the steaming process in particular transformed the kitchen into a kind of orange-and-cinnamon flavoured sauna which it was very tempting to just stay in all weekend while the marking lay unattended in the lounge. It was also quite a lot easier than I had expected. There are certainly a lot of ingredients, and it takes a long time to measure them all out, but once they are assembled it is really just a question of mixing them up and waiting patiently while they simmer on the stove. Saint Delia had given me to understand that the mixing process in particular was destined to be terribly arduous, but (unless I have done something wrong) it didn't seem that bad really. Anyway, the final result seems to both look and smell like a Christmas pudding. I just have to hope that it tastes like one too.

Since I live in Yorkshire these days, I feel duty-bound to point out that making your own Christmas pudding in the 21st century is very definitely a leisure activity, rather than an economy option. The ingredients alone cost something in the region of £20 - largely, of course, because I kept having to do things like buy a 200g pot of glacé cherries so that I would have 50g worth of them to put in the pudding. And that's before you allow for the fact that I also had to buy two pudding basins and a pudding steamer in order to cook it all. Still, does buying even Waitrose's finest luxury Christmas pudding have the same romance? Do you get to make a wish while you stir it, or wonder excitedly who will find the sixpences concealed in its murky depths, and whether their teeth with survive the experience? Oh no, I think not.

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strange_complex: (La Dolce Vita Trevi)
I'd never been on a hen-do before yesterday, and I don't think my introduction to the tradition was entirely a typical one either. But I enjoyed myself enormously marking [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan's impending nuptials.

Gathering in York )

Afternoon tea )

Evening dinner )

Drunken but charming emo boy )

Sunday leisure )

ETA: Oh, by the way - did anyone who was in the restaurant find a purple scarf when you left? I'm pretty sure I left it on the floor by my chair. No worries if not - I think it only cost 99p in the first place. But it was deliciously soft and fluffy and a very lovely shade of purple... :-(

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strange_complex: (Chrestomanci slacking in style)
Well, while I have a relatively normal weekend on my hands, I am going to get caught up with some unwritten reviews. I have spent most of the day on the sofa with my laptop writing this, while the TV burbled away in the background. It's what makes me happy.

Multiple Doctors: The Three Doctors )

Third Doctor: Carnival of Monsters )

Third Doctor: The Green Death )

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strange_complex: (F&L Geek pride)
I am nearing the end of the latest chapter of my (stupid) teaching portfolio, which is Good News. Soon, I shall be on to the final phase of putting the whole thing together and submitting it, and then you will not need to hear me complaining about it any more. Don't let your guard down just yet, though, as I'm sure that final phase will warrant griping of its own.

Anyway, I'd done enough by the end of Friday to head off with a clear conscience and the knowledge that I would not need to think about it again until Monday, and catch the train to charming Hebden Bridge; there to meet [livejournal.com profile] snapesbabe, [livejournal.com profile] matgb, [livejournal.com profile] burlesque_bunny and her fella, and attend a performance of Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf )

Saturday then saw me spending a tiring, but very satisfying, day painting the back bedroom in my house. And I took it as an opportunity for further Whovianism, in the form of some Eight audios. Something like painting, of course, presents the ideal opportunity to listen to stories like that, because the painting itself doesn't make any noise at all (unlike vacuuming, for instance), but it does successfully occupy those parts of your brain and body that might get bored just sitting still listening to a story, while leaving those parts that would definitely get bored just painting to enter entirely into the world of the drama.

Eighth Doctor audio: Storm Warning )

Eighth Doctor audio: Sword of Orion )

strange_complex: (Penny Gadget)
Possibly my favourite way to spend a weekend morning is to wake up late, mooch on down to the sofa, and eat my breakfast there in my dressing-gown while watching fluff on the telly and browsing LJ on my laptop. That, in fact, is what I'm doing right now. Normally, my watching fare consists of things like old episodes of Poirot or Sherlock Holmes. I don't pay the slightest bit of attention to the plot, but enjoy the sound of the familiar characters burbling in the background, and glance up at the screen every now and then to drool over the costumes and sets. Today, however, Spice World was starting on UKTV Gold just as I was sitting down. And since I have, technically, sat here throughout the whole movie, drinking coffee and reading Doctor Who spoilers, I now have to blog the film!

I actually saw it in the cinema when it first came out. I thought the Spice Girls were fab, in much the same OTT cartoon character way that I always thought KISS were fab, so I made my sister come and see it with me. It had come out that week, and there was one other girl in the cinema with us, sat right at the back. Pretty soon after that, you couldn't see it in theatres any more.

An unfair fate, though, because the film is ace! It's so ludicrous it goes straight through silly and out the other side into sheer genius. It has Roger Moore in it, being mysterious and stroking a white cat! Meatloaf, saying he'll do anything for those girls - but not that! And Bob Hoskins, who appears for about twenty seconds, for the sole purpose of pretending to be Geri Halliwell in disguise as himself! Not to mention a bad model of a Union Jack-emblazoned bus jumping over Tower Bridge, and even Naoko Mori, later of Torchwood fame.

The jokes are terrible, the plot a flimsy excuse for a succession of set-piece scenes, the acting hammy, and the entire concept deeply self-indulgent - but, but, BUT! It's so self-referential about it all, that you just don't mind. The whole movie turns out at the end to be a bad pitch spun by a couple of desperate producers to the Spice Girls' manager (Richard E. Grant at the absolute top of his game), much in the style of today's Orange 'please turn off your mobile phone' trailers. And it ends with the girls themselves breaking the fourth wall, and giggling at the couple snogging at the back of the cinema.

It's a crazy tongue-in-cheek testament to celebrity culture in the late '90s. And I love it.

The early bird

Saturday, 26 April 2008 07:58
strange_complex: (TT Baby Helios)
Well, it was one thing being up and out of the house by 9 last Saturday. This week I'm on my way a full half hour earlier! What happened??? Theoretically, I am going to help sort out a colleague's computer in Harrogate - but I think the limits of my technical competence on that front may lie closer than he believes! :-/

strange_complex: (Purple and black phone)
Hmm - I wouldn't usually choose to be up and going for a walk at this time on a grey Saturday morning, but actually it is quite enjoyable.



Domesticity

Sunday, 9 September 2007 14:58
strange_complex: (Penny Lane)
My weekend plans got changed at the last minute yesterday, when [livejournal.com profile] hollyione's car broke down, rendering it incapable of bringing her and her daughter here to stay. That was a pity, as I'd been looking forward to seeing my friend, but then again an unexpected free weekend can be pretty handy sometimes. So I've been putting it to good use attending to domestic matters.

I have:
  • Done four loads of washing.
  • Mended / shortened / hemmed five curtains.
  • Successfully extended my Sky cable, so that I can now have the TV where I want it, rather than where the wires will stretch to.
  • Vacuumed the house.
  • Bought some very tasteful paints in complementary colours.
  • Applied them to the two curtain pelmets which my Dad made for me a few weeks ago.
I've now reached the limit of what I can get done in the painting department for the moment, as each coat takes 16 hours to dry properly, so you basically have to wait a day in between them. But my pelmets are starting to look very nice already, and since I've sorted out all the curtains which need to hang from them now it is only the painting that I need to finish. By mid-week, they should be all up in place and looking very posh, and I will be able to shift my full attention to the next domestic task I need to accomplish - buying some furniture. I mean, I'm getting by, but I'm still using cardboard boxes as a wardrobe and sleeping on a rather tiny single bed. I miss the quality of weekend lie-ins you can get on a really good double, and am sick of having to rotate carefully and precisely on the spot every time I want to turn over, or risk falling out onto the floor!

So yes - there is some serious browsing of furniture catalogues to be done in my near future. For the time being, though, you will forgive me if I use the afternoon to catch up on some overdue LJ posts. Apologies for the spam, but they are only book reviews - feel free, as of course you always are, to skip if you're not interested.

strange_complex: (Corpus Agrimensorum colonia)
I bought myself a copy of CivCity: Rome in mid-April, but hadn't dared play it until I knew I had some proper free time to devote to it. This weekend, I've been finding out how wise that policy was!

Late-night gaming )

What I thought of it )

On dialogue between gamers and academics - or the lack of it )

So the right sort of noises are beginning to be made on the academic side, and the interest is clearly flourishing on the gaming side. We just need to stretch our hands out - that - little - bit - further...

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...

Creation

Sunday, 15 January 2006 19:25
strange_complex: (Penny Crayon)
It's been a pretty creative weekend.

Friday night saw the genesis of a colour bar and a couple of new / revamped icons.

Saturday was all about sorting out my costume for the Dark Masquerade Ball on January 27th. I'm keeping schtum about what it will be until the night, because, after all, what's the point of having a masked ball if you already know who everyone is because you knew what costume they'd be wearing? But suffice it to say that progress has been made, and I'm getting quite excited now.

Then today I caught the bus down to Abingdon to see [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23's new house, and help out with the painting. It's a very pretty little Georgian cottage, tucked down a little passageway out of the way of the main roads, and with lots of lovely period features, like exposed stone, a red tile floor, a beam over the cooker and open fireplaces. Not big, but definitely charming.

She had to move all her stuff in during the week, without having a chance to paint first, so there was a certain amount of stepping round furniture to do. But she, Cat, [livejournal.com profile] aef and I got on down to it (with occasional breaks for Fortifying Soup or biscuits), and by the time I left we'd made a real difference. Cheap and cheerful yellow and orange had given way to sophisticated and period-appropriate Dried Biscuit and Venetian Pink.

I do feel just a little achy now, but I'm sure the exercise did me good, and it was fun to help a friend settle in to her new nest.
strange_complex: (Purple and black phone)
Mmm... Sitting in Symphony Hall in Brum, listening to a jazz trio while waiting to see Andreas Scholl. Have a good weekend, all!


Halloween

Saturday, 29 October 2005 18:52
strange_complex: (Vampira)
Ah, it's the one weekend of the year when you can go out Gothed up to the nines and not attract the usual sneers and jeers. In particular, the old classic "Halloween was last month" is not valid this weekend. Ha-ha.

I'm off to a Halloween-themed house-warming party in Kidlington, going as A Person With A Bat On Their Head.

Hope you all have a great weekend, whatever you are doing!

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