Saturday, July 30, 2011

A haiku a day...

Here are my haikus from this week. One a day, every day.

So many hours,
basking in contentment on
the sun-soaked sofa.

One foot in front of
the other foot and onwards,
flying past the world.

Sneaking a glimpse of
sunflowers through the fence, as
sunbeams fade to dusk.

Heavy with slumber,
I sink into my pillow,
A deep-sleep diver.

Waking up aching,
time to start another day.
Coffee is my friend.

Tap-tapping my toes,
As the wine flows through my veins,
Underground rhythms

Grumble, grumble, sigh
and moan. It's hot and sticky
in my London home.

I would love to hear your haikus too, so please feel free to leave me one in the comments :)
To see last's week's offerings, click here

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ce qui m'inspire en ce moment... birds!

Every morning before I get harshly woken up by the horrendously intrusive song of my alarm, I get gently stirred awake by the chirps and calls of the morning chorus. It's nature's very own amazingly eclectic alarm clock, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Even though I live in London, my flat is apparently surrounded by vast flocks of birds - each of them vying to out-sing the others (whilst managing, for the most part, to remain illusively hidden from sight for the rest of the day). From the to pretty singsong of the robin to the clatter of the magpie's raspy call to the annoyingly insistent coo-ing of a lazy wood pigeon, I hear them all... and then drift back into the land of dreams, happy that the birds are up and about whilst I can snooze my way into the morning...

I love this quote by Huraki Murakami, about this experience of waking up to birdsong. Murakami is one of my favourite writers - he has a style all of his own that is strangely poetic and bizarre. His books are built around surreal images and moments which blur the boundary between real and make-believe. I always wonder if he would have the same unique quality if you were to read his books in the original Japanese or if it comes in part from the translation process. Either way, I really recommend his writing:
The wind-up bird chronicle, which is where this quote is taken from, was the first of his books that I read a couple of years ago and I've been slowly making my way through everything he's ever written ever since- slowly, because his books are so good that I want to savour them! I really love learning more about all the birds that fly around above my head and nest in the trees and in roofs and pass through this country on their long incredible migratory paths that take them back and forth around the world every year. My lovely man has a seemingly infinite well of bird-knowledge tucked away between his ears and I recently got him a free garden bird CD from the RSPB as a treat (If you are in the UK, you can get one here ). I put the songs on random and he tells me what they are - it's a great way to learn more about our feathery friends. I've learnt a few different songs over the years: I can definitely pick chiff-chaffs, great tits, buzzards, blue-tits, magpies and jackdaws (to name a few) out from the crowd.

Birds inspire me in lots of other ways too. We've got a lovely collection of bird feathers that we've found out and about on our rambles in the countryside. They decorate an otherwise empty one corner of the flat, and include quite a few rather impressive stripy red-kite tail feathers.
(Am I the only person who looks at a feather and finds it crazy to think that birds are made up of hundreds of them and as a result they can fly? Nature's intricate laws and designs are really quite baffling!)

I recently purchased this lovely ceramic blue-tit pendant. I think it's actually meant to be hung up on the wall, but I love it so much that I tied a ribbon through it and wear it myself!
(I got it at a market stall and I don't think that you can buy them anywhere online. The lady that makes has a little company called Hearts and Doodles which you can google and find out her email address if you are interested tho...)

I found this old photo of the wallpaper in an old flat which I used to live in in France. The entire walls of my room were covered in this crazy jungle parrot print. It was a bit strange at first to have all these parrots staring at me when I woke up in the morning, but I grew strangely attached to them! I would love to have met the crazy people that chose this wallpaper in the first place! Maybe they were jungle explorers who couldn't bear the thought of plain white walls after years of falling asleep amidst gigantic trees that were home to all sorts of creatures...

And last but not least... Origami birds. I went through a flurry of making these when I got a set of origami paper a while ago. I made a whole rainbow of them to decorate the window in my flat as well as lots of random ones to tuck in on sticks amongst my houseplants. I also folded up lots and lots as presents, and they got turned into all kinds of cool wind-chime time things (well not wind-chimes because, being paper, they didn't chime, but I think you know what I mean!)

Recently, I was making one out of the joke that came in a cracker at a party and people started asking me how to make them. And then this lady inspired me to try out a rather fantastic idea. Ever since, I have been folding up tiny bits of colourful paper for a secret project that I'm planning. Here are some of them tucked away into a tiny origami box....
Perhaps one day I will put up some instructions for how to make these birds yourself...

Well I can hear the swifts screeching and wheeling overhead which must mean that evening is here and it's time to get something for dinner... I will leave you with this lovely illustration of a nuthatch. The nuthatch is perhaps my favourite bird because I love the way it creeps up and down trees and bird holders and then flutters off surrepticiously to hide (they are rather shy which means its a real treat to spot them). They have the most wonderful markings around their eyes which makes it look like they have the most elegantly applied swoop of eyeliner
(This illustration is from the RSPB website. All other photos are by me)

What's your favourite bird?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Things I learnt at Glastonbury...

Glastonbury festival is one of my favourite places to be in the world. Here are some things that I learnt when I was there last month....

Everything can be turned into a plant pot given enough imagination...
even your roof....
and an old, dead tree trunk...

But you should always remember to water your plants :)

You should always expect the unexpected - you never know when a camel might suddenly appear and start dancing in the mud...

Speaking of mud.. there is such a thing as TOO MUCH mud...

The importance of wellyboots can therefore not be understated. These bad boys have kept my feet happy for nigh on 6 glastonburys now (and believe it or not, this was one of their cleaner moments at the festival)
Life is better with festival hair...

You can never take too many photos of colourful flags...

(I had to be selective here. I have SO MANY photos of the flags. But aren't they just so lovely flapping in the wind?!)

Paintings on the wall of a gallery are all very well and good, but the best kind of art can be found painted directly onto the the walls (?) of a tipi...

A slightly more random life lesson: If you leave an apple in close proximity to newly opened peppermint tea bags, your apple will tasty extremely minty. You will then be compelled to take ridiculous photos of yourself with said apple in order to document the experience forever. You have been warned. Plus the apple will not really taste very nice at all!
You make your own luck in life, but sometimes the universe gives you a helping hand....
Found on the first morning at glastonbury betwixt my tent and the portaloos: one four leaf clover :)

It is impossible to be the sky. But it's alright to want impossible things
Given my love for colourful, mis-matchingclothes, I will probably look something like this in about 30 years time...
And finally...
If you stare into the flames at the stone circle long enough, you can still see them days, weeks, months, years later when you close your eyes.

*sigh* I love festivals.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blog love

It might seem a little counter-intuitive to send you off to read other blogs when you may have only just clicked on this one to read but I assure you that it isn't (that is, if anyone is out there clicking and reading?? hello world? are you reading me? haha!) Here's why - I started this blog because I love reading other people's blogs. If I, as a person, love these blogs, so too might you, another person and besides I'm here to share the wealth, not squander it all for myself! So once a week I will share a few of my favourites. I'll divide them up into different categories (although they often do more than one thing in their blogs but such is life):

I'll start off with some of my favourite Crochet blogs because I am actually an old lady in disguise and I am addicted to this lovely craft

The ultimate source of crochet blanket related inspiration is Attic 24. Lucy's corner of the internet is full of colour, wool and the little moments of joy in everyday life. She shares works in progress and the excitement that comes with finishing a project and going 'TA DA!' Visit her here at

Another joy to behold is the slightly newer, yet nevertheless crammed with all things crochet-inspired is MeMeRose. This lady sure can crochet quickly and its oh-so-pretty! Her lovely blog can be found at

La France and a huge source of my personal crochet inspiration (it's where I got the idea and instructions for my amazing crochet coat of technicolour dreamcoat wonderousness which I will share with you soon). Allez sur son site à

Finally, this lady and her cat Raymond provide a lovely burst of colour and make me want to crochet lovely circular mandalas and finally learn how to knit socks. Note to self: This is the year that you will knit your first pair of socks. You have the wool, the pattern and the crazy mini needles and here is the inspiration/instructions. She lives all the way on the other side of the world in New Zealand but you can get there in just the click of a button, here:

Right, well that will probably do for now. I apologise for all the extra hours you will no doubt spend procrastinating, as you read these lovely blogs. It's not like you had anything important to do, is it?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

happy little moments... windowsill garden

Days are made up of lots of little moments and sometimes it's nice to pause and appreciate some of the more magical ones. Moments like this one, when I stopped what I was doing to water my little windowsill garden in the middle of a hot and sunny afternoon. My tiny array of flowers and succulents are growing fast and strong after a week or two of heavy rain and now the sun has come back out I've been giving them an extra splash now and then to keep them happy. They look so pretty in the sunshine...
My 'garden' may be tiny but it makes me smile :)

Inside I have some more lovely plants on the windowsill. I love this one, in particular, because it spends many months resting underground, and then starts shooting up these delightfully purple shamrock leaves. It is an Ox Alis.This year it has also been sending up stalks topped off with tiny white flowers. They sway in the gentle breeze when the window is open and provide shelter for tiny origami friends just like this one...
can you spot the tiny red bird? it's camoflagued a bit amidst the leaves...

(I took these photos on my normal camera, but one of my friends put a crazy program on my computer that turns ordinary photos into polaroids. It even looks like a little polaroid camera on your desktop screen. You can download it for free somewhere, but I don't know where sorry!)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Learning to crochet...

So, crochet. I love to crochet. Obsessed with it really, I am. It's the perfect hobby because you can crochet whilst you watch films or whilst you listen to music or when you're sat around with friends having a chat and at the end of all the colourful looping fun you get a wonderful woolly finished one-of-a-kind handmade personal thing, maybe a blanket or a cushion cover or some slippers or a crazy cardigan.

I learnt to crochet granny squares from a lady in America via a great set of videos which she uploaded onto YouTube (consequently I like to refer to her affectionately as my YouTube granny). How amazing is that? The internet really can be such a great source of learning if you're determined enough and you know where to look. The lady in question, whose name, according to her YouTube profile is Beth - Hi Beth! I'm waving! - has recently updated all her videos so that they are even more helpful and snazzy. Here are a few of the more helpful ones for getting started, should you too wish to learn the wonders of crochet:

1. How to hold
the hook, yarn tension, slip knot

2. How to crochet a granny square, Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

(All three videos come from Bethintx1's YouTube Channel which you can find here. I'm just linking to them, in no way are they mine)

Simply googling the words 'granny square' will bring you a wealth of information, instruction and inspiration, but just in case your brain functions better with diagrams, here are some more very helpful instructions to see you on your merry crocheting way. Be careful tho, the Purl Bee website might give you very strong urges to buy lots of deliciously fancy wool!

I got completely carried away when I first learnt to crochet granny squares last year. Well not straight away. I still have the first granny square I ever made. It's yellow and slightly wonky and I use it as a coaster for my cup of coffee every morning.
Bless it's wonky ways!

After that is when I got properly carried away. If you just keep adding on to the outside of a granny square, eventually you get a giant granny square which can function very nicely as a small blanket. It takes longer and longer to get around the square every time, but if you keep changing colours it leads to a very effective and snazzy blanket.
Why, yes that is a small badger sat atop my sofa. What of it?

Time for a close up of my lovely lovely stiches.....
This is what it would look like if you were shrunk down to fairy size and you went clambering over the blanket :)

So this blanket perfectly sized for putting on my lap and keeping my knees warm in winter time. Yep, the name granny square starts making a lot of sense here - a blanket of this style really does make you look rather a lot like a granny!
Snug as a granny!
N.B. All the above pictures of my granny square goodness were taken by me

Linking in with my aforementioned love of poetry and rhyme, I feel I should also mention that this blanket is not just useful for putting on your LAP but also really good when you want to have a NAP. It's the perfect size for curling up under and feeling warm and cosy.

You can learn more about giant granny square blankets

If you are very observant you may notice that I have crocheted slippers peeking out from underneath the blanket, and also that there is a crochet cardigan draped on the back of my chair. But I don't want to overload you with crochet brilliance all in one go so I'll save those for another time - ahhh suspense!

Why not learnt to crochet today??

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Flutter by butterfly..

Lately lots of butterflies have been fluttering across my path including...

1. A peacock butterfly in Snowdonia (chasing this lovely ended up with my stepping in a bog that was more than ankle deep. mmmm stale bog smell! Luckily I was very close to a mountain spring so I washed my toes clean. Nature giveth and it taketh away!)

2. A red admiral spotted in a field near Cirencester

3. A ringlet butterfly found in a lane near Cirencester
. Even though it's not as colourful as some of the other butterflies, this little lovely was a delight to watch flutter about. It's wings were light and airy and it moved so quickly and gracefully...

4. A small tortoiseshell found in a field near Cirencester (a little blurry, sorry)

And finally... 5. A gatekeeper spotted on the Devonshire coast last summer. This is the butterfly that sparked off my interest and first got me snapping all these pictures

My photography skills (and camera equipment) are somewhat limiting, but it's nice to get more than just a glimpse of these ephemeral wingéd beauties and to be able to have another more careful look back home on the computer screen. I will learn all of their names, yes I will!

What butterflies have you spotted? Do you have a favourite? What are your tips for photographing these lovely flighty creatures?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A haiku a day

Poetry has been entering my life in leaps and bounds lately...

It all started at Glastonbury when L. inspired me to learn all the words to W.B.Yeats 'The Stolen Child' off by heart after she recited it to me amidst the flickering lights of tiny bonfires and flares at the stone circle (read it here and I encourage you to learn it too. There is something rather incredible about knowing that all these words and images and rythms are tucked away in my brain ready to be recited at a moment's notice as and when I like. And oh! how that last repeated line gets me everytime. The world is more full of weeping than I can understand).

I also met a (rather obnoxious and unfriendly) poet at Glastonbury. Meeting someone unfriendly in such a setting was really rather unusual, as ordinarily the random conversations that I have there with strangers are warm and friendly in a way that doesn't happen in 'real' life. Anyway, I took this random meeting as a sign that I too ought to write more poems - something he disagreed with. Poetry is not for everybody apparently, although why it should be reserved for him I'm not entirely sure, and neither was he when I asked him. Silly man. I will undo the sourness of this meeting by writing poems anyway!

Anyhoo, seeing as I've already made a fair few digressions, I shall take it upon myself to make just one more...I used to write poetry quite a lot when I was younger (about 11?) after a supply teacher (whose name is long since forgotten in the mists of time, but whose life lesson lives on) who was teaching our class for a few weeks when Mr Emmanuel broke his leg encouraged me to write a poem everyday. The important thing, she said, was not to judge whether the poem was good, per se, but that I take the time everyday to sit down and write one, as the only way to ever get good at writing poems was by writing poems. So that's exactly what I did everyday for about a month/six weeks (oh how I would love to find the notebook that they are all written in, it must surely exist somewhere in a box in my parent's house). I gave up at some point, but over the years I have written a few more. I won't pretend to think that I am any good at writing poems at all, nor that anybody should really care to read them. That isn't really the point. It's more for me, and putting them here will encourage me to keep at it this time.

There is something really special about organising words into carefully decided formats, whether that be a sonnet, a haiku, an epic long beast of a poem or free verse. With all this in mind, and some random conversations about how neat and natty haikus in particular are, I have recently decided that I will write a haiku everyday. Why a haiku? Well haikus are small, and can be written quite quickly, but these tiny poems can be a really good way of summing up your state of mind in a concise, yet convincing way. Constraints beget creativity, and these tiny poems force the magic that is hidden in words to reveal itself a little bit. There are different rules about what a haiku should contain and some people even play around with the syllable count - a decision which confuses me, but my simple rules are:
  • 5 - 7 - 5 syllables
  • Write in the present tense
  • Sum up state of mind/mood
  • Allude to nature/seasons as much as possible (to capture the transciense of life!)
And here without further ado, are my haikus a day from the last week. Some names may have been changed.

At home in summer,
Open windows welcome the
outside world inside

Saturday (This one is a bit weird. Probably best if I don't go into anymore detail). Suffice to say that the person here named Noel did something rather TERRIBLE when sleep-walking in my flat)
Screaming in the night
about a puddle of piss.
What's wrong with you, Noel?

Sunday (I permitted myself a double haiku to convey the amazing experience of running through the streets (admittedly a little tipsy) at dawn with my good friend A. after partying all night long
Running down the street,
Ridiculously alive
Time travellers, both.

'Tomorrow is here!'
We declare to the morning,
Skipping in our socks.

Sipping wine with you
In this dark, sweaty cavern
Catching up on life.

Multicoloured bird
flutters done onto the fence,
Stops me in my tracks

Delicate wagtails,
Followed by faceless demons,
Unravelling me

No concentration
Reading around the subject
Whilst the sky falls down

I will share my next week's worth of haikus in 7 days time...

Why not write a haiku in the comments below so I can share in a moment of your day?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ce qui m'inspire en ce moment... Frenchyness!

I recently had the delight of watching the French author extraordinaire Marie Darrieussecq give a talk at the Society for French Studies conference. Her talk was entitled 'Écrire-femme en français ou l'envers du monde' and it gave a really personal insight into her career and also more generally the prejudices that women face when writing (particularly in French, since, as she pointed out, it is a language in which questions of gender are right at the forefront on a grammatical level. For example, if you have one dog (a masculine noun) 'un chien' and lots of women (a feminine noun), and you want to group them together and say 'they' you still have to make the plural form agree with the (masculine) dog so that you write 'ils' even though it is vastly outnumbered by the feminine). She talked about how, as a young girl she experienced 'la langue française comme blessante' - the French language wounded her. Her whole talk was Very Interesting Stuff and moreover, it was extremely entertaining - she had everybody following along and laughing with her even at the end of a very long day (Her amazing impression of Balzac was priceless!). Her talk may appear online in the form of a podcast at some point soon and if and when it does I will post a link here.... It was very inspiring to see another real life succesful French author talk about their work (I recently went along to see Christine Angot read from her latest novel too!) It brings a sense of real life and importance to my PhD (which is about exile and language in the works of three other contemporary women authors writing in French: Nancy Huston, Nina Bouraoui and Linda Lê). Perhaps one day I will have the chance to see the writers that I am studying talk...

Anyway, this experience was also inspiring in other ways. Having read only a few of Darrieusecq's books I decided on the day of the talk when I was sitting in the library that I would like to familiarise myself with a bit more of her writing. So I picked up her book
Le Pays and began to read. The opening section of the book was a really evocative description of running and I felt compelled to note down some of the passage as it really captured some of the feelings that I experience when I run. Here are some extracts from the opening pages...

‘Peu à peu, en courant, je m’évaporais. Les coureurs le savant, au bout d’un moment on se détache de soi-même [...] Puis un moteur prenait ma place. Un souffle, quelque chose d’aveugle et d’obstiné, qui poussait et avançait pour moi. Les jambes prenaient le bon mouvement, le rythme, comme si le reste de ma vie n’avait été qu’une pause dans la course […] J’étais suspendue. Tout ce qui courait en moi me tenait debout, me portait. Je devenais j/e […] Vient un moment – les coureurs le savant – où on ne touche plus terre. On vole.' (Marie Darrieusecq, Le Pays (Paris: P.O.L, 2005), pp.10-14.

'Little by little, as I was running, I evaporated. Runners know this feeling when, at a certain moment, you are freed from yourself' [...] Then a motor took over from me. A breath, something blind and stubborn, which pushed and avanced for me. My legs took on the right movement, the right rhythm. Everything that ran in me kept me upright, carried me forward. I became split in two [...] There comes a moment - people who run know it - when you no longer touch the ground. You fly' (My own, rather clumsy translation!)

If you don't know Marie Darrieusecq's work I strongly urge you to have a read. Her writing is powerful, moving and widely available in translation so even if you don't read French you can discover her for yourself :)

Another burst of inspiration that came out of this talk was an amazing short film in French that Darrieusecq mentioned. It's called La Jetée and was made by Chris Marker in 1962.
It can be watched here on youtube (with English subtitles):

Part 1:

Part 2:

It's such a beautiful and thought-provoking film which has haunted me a little bit since I watched it. May your mind also be blown by it's crazy ideas and beauty...

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Why do i wish i was a giant anteater?

This is a photo of some giant anteaters I took at London Zoo a few years ago. They appear to be smooching through the bars of the cage!

I feel that I should probably explain the title of my blog. 'Why do you wish to be a giant anteater?', i hear you ask. 'Why ever wouldn't you wish to be a giant anteater?' is my confused reply! 'Have you not seen how happily they prance about with their long long snouts and big fluffy tails? Do you not know that they sleep for an average of 18 hours a day? That is some serious dream time they are getting done! They carry their tiny babies on their backs like a miniature backpack of cuteness. I think it would be pretty darn wonderful to be a giant anteater, all things considered!

Should you need further convincing, try watching this clip:

(I love the bit where you can hear a small child going "wow!")

So, yeah, whilst not my favourite animal (that position belongs and will always belong to the humble badger, of which, much much more very very soon), the giant anteater is definitely the animal I would choose to be :) One day I hope to see them in the wild in South America running around freely with their ridiculous tails feasting on ants to their heart's content. They can eat up to 30,000 insects a day, which if you've ever had an ant infestation in your home is happy news indeed!

Writing this reminds me that I need to mend the zip on one of my favourite dresses which I made 3 summers ago. It is purple with a large anteater sewn on and embroidery which spells out my wish to be a giant anteater...

In the beginning...

I like reading blogs. I read lots of them. Blogs about adventures, blogs about crochet, blogs about style, blogs about music, and blogs about the everyday lives of people all over the world. And often I think to myself, hmmm I should write one too. I should create a little space to record some of my favourite things and share them with other people. So here I am starting to do just that. Finally stepping out from behind the computer screen and feeling inspired to start joining in the conversations in this wonderful ridiculous creation that is the internet. Here I will write about things that I like which include such wonderful pastimes as: running, crocheting, sewing and other crafting marvels, nature, fairies and ladybirds, vegetarian cooking, having adventures, being in love with the French language, books, music, love, life the universe and everything (well maybe not everything!) in-between.

This will be a place to remember the magical moments, past and present that make up my little life.

I read a wonderful sign at glastonbury festival that made a lot of sense to me. It said:
We don't remember the days, we remember the moments. And that is exactly what I will start to do here.