Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Being locked into Cathedral grounds

...might sound entertaining (and it is), BUT it is not as entertaining if you ought to have found a loo before planning your walk home.

Fortunately, the pain was not so excrutiating that the clouds around the spire missed being photographed. It was really pretty, but the fog was cold! It almost made me consider knitting some legwarmers. Almost. I haven't sunk to the Flashdance level quite yet.

Now, the reason for being locked in the Cathedral is kind of funny. E and I were walking (or waddling, to tell the truth) back from Lisha's flat, where we had enjoyed a marvellous Chinese New Year dinner cooked by Lisha, her mum visiting for several months from China, and her 16-year-old Chinese lodger! A long walk was really needed after 3 hours of constant feeding (water-lily salad, aubergine dumplings, leek pancakes, pork skin, stir fry, meat dumplings, and thai chili soup), but E opposed my idea to go the dodgy way through alleys around the south side of the cathedral. His option was to go through the pedestrian gate that was in the process of being locked by a security person. So, I trotted along, too.

And was quite happy to see the gorgeous light on the clouds around the spire. Until I noticed the closed Ethelbert Gate (the south vehicle gate)... and E walked ahead to find the closed Erpingham Gate. Titter. So, there was some large amount of sighing during the walk back around the entire cathedral -- along with fervent prayers that the Bishopsgate entrance would be open, as desecrating the church grounds would have been poor form (we kind of figured it would be -- after all, people live in the Close and posh people do not go climbing over medieval walls and gates after an exquisite dinner out. And sometimes those dinners might go on past 10.30pm...).

We walked along past the massive evergreen at the back of the cathedral, where scenes from Dean Spanley were filmed. And were very joyous to find Bishop's Gate open -- whew!

Then we found a shortcut through to the river at St. Martin at Palace (it is so cool to live somewhere that you can feel safe tootling around in strange territory at night!), and walked up to Magdalen Street on Quay Side (across the river is Fishergate). The reason it is called St. Martin at Palace is that this medieval church is directly across the street from the walls of the Bishop's Palace, part of the Close, I suppose.

Walking up the river, there was absolutely no wind, which E commented on (coming from the constant windy-ness of Wales). This made for nice reflection of the Ribs of Beef, which is quite a pretty Dutch-influenced construct. And which has some nice ales on most of the time.

Today, we had cake at work! An odd thing in Britain is that the birthday person is responsible for bringing one's own cakes (or cookies, or something generally sugary and fattening) for everyone to share. My opinion of this practice has not been fully formed; it just seems like the birthday person should have cakes brought for them. Maybe that is just me being culturo-centric and only-childish. One is also meant to bring in cakes on one's anniversary of work, and then pretty much any other occasion possible :) Offices pitch in for birthday cards and there is much subterfuge in obtaining signatures and well-wishes in an inter-office envelope, which everyone knows is a card. It is a funny thing.

The reason for cake today was that it was Sally's birthday. I am quite pleased that her sons have gotten her a Cinema City membership for a pressie, and we can pehaps lure her out of an evening now!

Sally and I have also begun the final evolutionary adaptation to our new space, after two office moves in the past two weeks (most everybody else moved once). Admittedly, the shelves in this picture are now full (the second desk is mine and the far one is Wayne's), and more are due to be hung, so that Sally's desk will indubitably be tidier than mine...

After the trauma of a move last week, we did try to liven things up by attending a ceilidh (click on 'Kier Hardie Ceilidhs') in preparation for a certain upcoming event in Eire[Sally has (with her therapeutic baking efforts) recovered from the shock of being whelmed by so much madness in one week]. There is apparently a ceilidh in Norwich on the 3rd Wednesday of every month, and Clare, Eileen, Sally and I went along -- this was the first one possible since I found it; we didn't quite know what to expect. But it was a grand time!

It was absolutely jam-packed and between the cold and vigorous exercise, my lungs are apparently in need of some work. Sally questioned later why she had thought it was a good idea when I suggested it in November, but we may be able to peer pressure her into returning next month. She was quite dubious after having noticed that it was at the Working Man's Club, and alarmed by E's non-appearance for the same reason. She was most dubious of the loos, and we all giggled at her. We got her onto the floor for 2 1/2 dances; but we have a cunning plan for E to assist in upping this number at the next ceilidh.

Admittedly, the caller was not the best, but this consolation did nothing to help Sally feel comfortable in not knowing what to do (she was slightly annoyed and flumoxed). It was mayhem during some dances! There were loads of students there as well (very cool) but some of the 'old hands' were not impressed by the flailing about in wrong directions -- I got a cutting glare for trying to 'Thread the Needle' the wrong way. One man totally looked in need of some castor oil. Oh, we are going back, we are! (and future Naarrich visitors need to plan their sojourns around the 3rd Wednesday of the month...)

And finally, a sweet (and tear-jerking) story:

Jack is the Methodist minister who was caretaker/tenant of St. Clement's for 30 years. He comes across the street every week to visit us (and to fuss at me for being there in the dire cold or to scold at me not to wear myself out cleaning). For a few weeks (since we got back to St. Clement's after Christmas), there has been a red rose in a tiny vase on the candle stand.

Many years ago, a lady asked Jack to place a red rose and light a candle three times a year on her behalf in memory of her son who had died: one for his birthday, one on his obit day and one at Christmas-time. The lady died about 2 weeks ago, so this is the last red rose and candle for her son. Jack was going to the funeral on Monday, and he was torn as to whether or not to take the rose and place it on her coffin...

Monday, 19 January 2009

Happy Blue Monday

That is kind of contradictory to some people, particularly people like Lightnin' Hopkins [i.e., happy + blue], but there is really no need to sit around and moan.


...Well, maybe for 6.7 minutes or so, but after that, one is really doing nothing but stealing extra oxygen than their allocated share; stealing people's peace and quiet; and stealing others' right to be happy about little things like: ginger nut cookies or warm lamb stew or finishing the flap on fingerless mittens. [admittedly, it is only one flap on one mitten and the other mitten still languishes for a flap of its very own, but we can be happy!]

However, there is one reason to pull a briefly long face, and that is because panto season is over for another 11 months.

The last performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (why do I think it should be 'dwarves'?) was last evening, and the panto nutcases went along! We had hoped for some extra final show silliness (and there may have been, with the fire extinguisher aimed at one actors bum for an extra-long period of time), but there was nothing obviously OTT. Sigh. Nilu was extremely disappointed by the fact that only 5 packets of candy were thrown at the audience -- very weak... But it was a great show! And we always have fun, and I do miss working backstage :) Because I am mad, no doubt.

The panto was a consoling end to last week, since we moved offices (slightly chaotically) last week. The amusing (or not so much) part is that 4 of us moved last week and -- for additional fun and entertainment -- are moving AGAIN this week! Ha.

Saturday, I could only manage about 2 hours at St. Clement's again -- because it is COOOOOLD in a medieval church in the middle of winter. (shock and awe) I Swiffered the tile floor where we have a cunning plan to have a table and chairs area (with tea, coffee and biscuits of course) and that warmed me for a while, but the toes do go numb so very quickly. Must. Find. Kettle.

There is construction work being undertaken on the Cathedral ceiling, and so service was said in the Presbytery. This had two results: the singing is much richer being in a smaller space (than all the feeble Old Dear voices in the massive Nave as normal); and there was also a nutter in a big plaid blazer behind us in the small space who muttered to himself (or perhaps to his invisible friend) through the whole service -- he even pronounced the sermon, which included an informative and interesting section on figs as complete... erm, refuse. ha!

Since it is now late, and time for good creatures to go to bed, I had best get to my evening stretches, includine toes -- demonstrated here by a certain Bete Noir (who happens to be absent this evening due to the disruption in the din-dins schedule caused by a free viewing of Frost-Nixon...). Backdoor meowing will most probably be quite vehemently chiding tomorrow morning.

Monday, 12 January 2009

A Thoughtful Spot

That is really what we all need, isn't it?

And sometimes we go to that place (albeit not quite as idyllic as Pooh's) and we think we might blog and communicate with the outside world; and then the circus music starts. And we get distracted with little piddly things such as: 'Should that picture be hung on the wall 2.7 more inches to the right?' or 'The kitty is outside, so maybe I should vacuum.' or 'Oooh! Just a Minute is on (or Top Gear, or Oz and James Drink to Britain or a CSI marathon -- despite the fact that I have seen them all --) and I need to finish these fingerless gloves with the mitten flap I am attempting to knit.' or 'Why is that Robert Mugabe still thieving oxygen -- and why does nobody seem to care about anything other than the intensely personal fact that they might have to cut down to only 2 new pair of shoes per month due to the recession?' (Do not expect sympathy from me when you still have central heat, do not work in a sweatshop in Manchester and haven't been sold to the highest bidder. I do sympathise when your bank attempts to take your house from you for the sake of two late payments after your husband leaves you with two kids when his business fails -- and you have worked for said bank for 17 years, never being late with payment before now... -- I am sorry to have lost electronic evidence of this story)

And the best laid plans, you know...

Now, in my Thoughtful Spot, thinking does actually occur (I don't just sit there tapping my head, repeating 'Think. Think, think. Think, think, think.). Usually this thinking is misanthropic (as demonstrated briefly above) or mockingly comical (or would that be comically mocking?); but it is generally amusing to myself and those who might happen to be in my immediate vicinity -- friends and acquaintances, I mean. NFN hasn't rubbed off to the point that I yap at random people I meet in Roy's. Yet.

But some things that make one think are:

Like, totally, why do cats always smell like haybarns? (this is a cosy smell, in case you did not grow up in a barn.)
Why is Facebook so addictive? (Or, why am I so darned nosy?)
Where does time go? (probably here)
Can one really go to too many auctions? (The correct answer is: NO!)
When can I be Martha Stewart?
It is impossible to have a) too much ginger or b) too much garlic (although not often together).

In other Norwich news (yah... I have not given proper newsy updates -- people should scold me more often):
1. The International Office at UEA is moving this week. This is all very exciting and dust-creating; it is also after the building we are currently in has begun to be tarted up from 1960s Cold War bunker-style and colour scheme. I have been mostly packed since yesterday, because I am batty. My influence has exerted power and caused others to talk in funny voices (or squeak like meese, whilst holding a computer mouse).
2. The January First Friday Five was entertaining (despite the foray into a pub newly acquired by the karaoke-ing lesbain couple), and Sally came along for her first CAMRA experience. I forgot to take any pictures -- sigh. However, the pubs weren't overly memorable. We are unsure if Sally will repeat her venture.
3. My knitting in public may be a topic in the review in the next Norfolk Nips. I am knitting Dave the Train a sock...(it is a long story).
4. Suspicions exist that Angus (the kitteh) belongs to the unfortunate people next door. Moral query: If we feed him better, since he keeps sitting on our window and taking his space on the bed -- does that actually constitute stealing or catnapping. Kitties do have choices, right? He still has no collar from any other peoples, but we (translate, The Cat Lady) may put one on asking if kitteh belongs to __?__.
Kitteh likes the spot on the bathroom floor where the heating pipes run underneath. He also likes the mat next to his food bowl. And the under-the-stairs closet. And the hand-knitted throw. And the polka dotted chair. And laps.
When he sits on the stairs or on the roof breast in the dark or under furniture, he is invisible unless he opens his eyes.
5. As mentioned above, there is work to be done on the fingerless mittens (which are supposed to look like this) and my obstacle at the moment is figuring out how to do the flap.
6. This past Thursday was my first time back at knitting since before Thanksgiving, and it was a good time (although Clare the knitter was missing -- I must organise a pub-knit. Clare, the Irish was there, and although she didn't knit, she had an outstanding time.).
7. Photos of Le Wedding de Bonnie Blue are up (in various places, such as here and Facebook), and they are wonderful to have, because I don't remember parts of it -- like ringing a bell.

Since 7 is the number of completion (or perfection, depending on your numerological semantics), this is a good place to stop. And to go and look for some more Ronaldo's ginger ice cream...

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Yes, I know I am not in Wales any more, but we really just like looking at Welsh words.

Happy New Year!

After a loooovely evening in Holt with Lady Yssy (and her parents, as they seemed to want to be there for some reason, instead of 'down to the pub') and a gorgeous baked creole cod dinner and tasty beverages, we have returned to a cold Norwich and are readying for a return to work tomorrow. (My attitude is a little more resistant than E's for some reason -- it could be because the cursed computer of mine is refusing to even turn on past the ctl+alt+del screen -- and so I am sulking and eating hummous to console myself.) None of my pictures taken today and last night can be uploaded due to idiot machine, either. Stupid computer.

However, inward self-indulgent focus does not mean that one cannot look forward to the year ahead. And I have made the following resolutions:

* complete knitting projects (instead of 3/4-completing and then leaving on needles until forget pattern);
* use yarn before buying more (well, maybe just small amounts);
* vacate creative mist in brain by blogging more than once every 35 days;
* floss teeth at least three times a week;
* have camera with me at all times;
* take more photos of official warning and street signs (a photo here would have been both useful and humourous, but I have a stupid computer);
* tidy my paperwork more often;
* be nice.

My New Year's Day planning was not well-organised, but there is now a polenta cornbread in the oven, and some black-eyed peas soaking in warmish water. E has gone out to get some saag paneer to count as 'greens' (it was soooo difficult to coerce him to go out for a curry...).

Hopefully, this will satisfy the Southern gods of cultural fortune, and they will smile upon us in Norfolk this year :) There is not a requirement to eat certain foods on New Year's Day in Britain, so people do kind of think I am odd. But, hey... at least I make them think.

And now to check on my cornbread...