All posts by Sally

Little Wanderer

Bear with me today. I have a cold and my brain feels SO HEAVY rattling around in my skull. I’m not sure if any of my thoughts are going to make any sense, but it’s a while since I shared any regardless, so here goes.

I’ve been listening to Kintsugi (by Death Cab for Cutie, for the uninitiated) on loop for about the last month. And it’s amazing how when you go back to music you hear lyrics differently, or in a new way. I didn’t love their previous album, Codes and Keys, and I think I gave Kintsugi a cursory listen before setting it aside and deciding that I’d only listen to Plans for the rest of my life.

Then I got tickets to see them again in January, and I felt I should catch myself back up. Boy am I glad I did. Your mindset is everything about how you appreciate music, and I appreciate Kintsugi now because I think I have a “kintsugi” mindset. For those who have not yet run to google, let me explain:

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise

And I mean, how great is that. To recognise that everything about our journey is worth displaying, and that patched-up things can still be beautiful, maybe more beautiful than the original version.

The track I’m particularly fixated on is ‘Little Wanderer’, which I maybe didn’t ever make it to on my first listen, or allowed to blend into the background. I have no idea how, because now that I have given it time I’m falling in love. I think that Death Cab construct their tracks perfectly (I’ve always adored ‘Summer Skin’ just for the structure of the piece instrumentally) and Little Wanderer is rapidly climbing to those dizzy heights.

I also love it because it reminds me of travelling, and that’s something which I’ve not done for so long, I’d slightly forgotten the joy of it all. Today I went and watched Mamma Mia 2 (singalong, of course) and that also reminded me of travelling, and seeing the world in technicolour, and finding the things you love, and leaving the things you love behind, and knowing that they’ll still exist even if you’re miles away.

I apologised at the start, because I knew this post would run away with itself, but here’s what I think I’m trying to capture – I’m so proud of all of my experiences, even the ones which left me a little broken and in need of some repair, and I love having cause to look back on all of the things I’ve seen and all the places I’ve seen them. Here’s to making memories and mistakes, and finding the things you love and knowing that you can go back to them.

Secret Boudoir, Ultimate Man Cave, Apocalypse Bunker

If you haven’t watched “Amazing Interiors” on Netflix then I thoroughly recommend it. It has been a long day, but now I get to relax and watch a mad American transform a field of bunkers into luxury survival palaces, while a little Italian man expounds his love of faux-baroque design in totally comical French.

It does remind me, however, that I really need to do something with my house. Not that I haven’t done *things* since I moved in, it’s just I haven’t really got round to many of the fun things. I’ve repaired the roof (or rather a fully qualified team of people repaired my roof), I’ve had wiring checked and amended, and I’ve had meters installed. But that’s not fun.

The next plan is to sort out the kitchen. It needs a couple of coats at least of magnolia or cream, to brighten it up and to cover the greasy hand-marks left by my predecessor’s kids. I’m looking forward to getting my Cinderella poster up on the wall, though the fact that it is 5 and a half years since the show is a bit of a sore point.

Next, I’ll move onto the office, which is currently a very fetching shade of yellow. I haven’t decided yet what to do with it, so all suggestions are welcomed – it just needs to continue to house all of my many things, so I’ll probably be avoiding busy wallpaper and things (though there is one wall which is a contender for Marvel wallpaper – depending on quite how young I’m feeling on the day).

In the meantime though, I’ll keep watching Amazing Interiors and making plans for the madness I can inject into my tiny piece of land – maybe by hiding exciting graffiti behind every door, or painting all of the ceilings gold. The possibilities are endless.

Craft Corner

This week I have been *tired*. I mean it. Today I was basically a zombie at work all day. I can’t tell you a single thing I did (but I can tell you that I definitely did lots of work – hi there any colleagues reading this).

I’ve been that kind of tired where your body just feels a bit too old for your skin. Everything aches, my eyes can’t focus properly, getting off the sofa every evening to go to bed has felt like a trial.

And then, I got home this evening and suddenly had all the energy.

So, I made a pinafore dress out of all the jeans I’ve recently ruined. I ruin jeans fairly often because I have Thighs For Days. I think if I were body-confident and also 10 years younger I’d potentially describe them as thicc. Instead, I’ll just go ahead and describe them as “fairly stocky”. For a tiny little lady, I have quite a lot of thigh, and my cheap high-street jeans just cannot cope.

The big issue with women’s clothing (as we know) is lack of pockets, so I decided I’d make a dress out of all the bits of the jeans which include pockets. I chopped out a number of panels before deciding that really the only pockets I wanted to keep were the back pockets (sensible patch pockets without additional faff, basically). I saved the waistbands to make the straps, because they are already the right shape, and the buttons make for handy fastenings.

Ultimately, it’s not exactly the height of fashion, but it has pockets pockets pockets, and it’s dead comfy.  And having had absolutely no energy all week, I’ll take whatever results I can get.

(Not a professional model, or photographer, just to clarify)

This Sceptred Isle

I am hugely lucky that in my life so far I have traveled a lot, and lived in 3 other countries than the UK. I’m not the most adventurous person, and I do sometimes wish that I’d done more when I was a bit younger (a gap year to Asia, for stereotypical example), but nevertheless I’ve been to about 20 countries so far, across 4 continents.

And yet, as I’m reminded every time I have a break from work, there’s nowhere I love more than the British Isles. I’m currently in Cornwall, for the first time in my life, and I’m totally in love. The thing I’ve realised though is that this isn’t a new feeling – wherever I go in the British Isles (specifically selected language because Ireland is AMAZING) I fall head over heels within seconds.

We’ve been favoured by the weather in the last few days which of course makes a difference, but I can imagine that in the wind and rain it would be equally as beautiful, if  a bit more aggressive. The north Cornish coast is quite stark in many ways, lots of brushland covering the deceptively mobile sand dunes, which until a few years ago routinely buried St Enodoc church, nearby.

The house we are staying in is a modern mansion, not quite the Agatha Christie 30s murder-house I had in mind. Still, you can imagine taking tea with the vicar on the veranda, while Miss* Marple examines the body in the study. It’s honestly like being in a novel.

Yesterday we visited Tintagel castle – those of you who know me will know that I have a massive soft-spot for a castle – and it was absolutely glorious. If I were King Arthur, I’d have picked there for a castle as well, with astonishing views over the rolling ocean, easily defensible from the mainland, and with a cave underneath for the wizard to live in. What more do you need in a castle?

I’m looking forward to a couple more days here, but already resolved that I need to go out in the next few months and see more of Leeds again. Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck into the daily grind, and to forget how wonderful the world is, even just 15 minutes from your front door.

See you for some more #hometowntourism soon basically. You’re welcome.

*had to retrospectively edit this because I initially put Mrs Marple, and I’m so horribly offended by my own errors. I love Christie and I’ve read them all, and it’s definitely Miss Marple, or Jane Marple, or Aunt Jane, and I’m so sorry

Starter Pack

Straight out of 2014 (because I absolutely do not conform to trends/am always quite late to everything because of who I am as a person) I decided it might be fun to create a ‘Sally’ starter pack.

I honestly don’t know why, but it’s Sunday and I’m not really that interested in the football, so you’re welcome.

So now you know how you can get my life in just a few simple steps (which I know is what you’ve all been waiting for, you’re [doubly] welcome)

Elite Pastry

I tried to call this post “cake or death?” but it turns out I’ve used that one before. The problem with writing a sporadic blog over an 8 year period is that occasionally you have the same thoughts twice.

Also 8 years. Let’s just all take that in a bit shall we. I have been wittering on the internet for 8 years, and people have been reading it. I had 18 views today. From who? Who knows? It’s all very exciting.

The length of time I’ve spent writing this blog was highlighted to me today because one of my former colleagues graduated from her undergraduate English degree today, and it reminded me that I graduated from my first degree five years ago. Which feels like a mix of no time and just a huge expansive amount of time ago.

But Sally, wasn’t this going to be about cake?

Yes it was, but I sidetracked myself with nostalgia, you’re welcome.

For the uninitiated, I love baking. One of the greatest joys of owning a house has been the ability to bake almost every weekend, and sometimes mid-week as well. I bake cakes mostly, and buns, sometimes scones. I’ve yet to do bread, but have big plans for later in the summer.

I am ashamed to say I have not seen the most recent season of GBBO Professionals (I have sworn off normal GBBO since the Channel 4 move, but Creme de la creme was too good to miss) but I do plan on going back to it. I’ve seen all of Nailed It (if you haven’t then get yourself over to Netflix NOW).

But my new hobby and secret passion is watching baking montage videos on Instagram. In particular I’m a fan of an account called pastry_academy_of_elite (and no, not just for the name). The account reposts the most amazing baking, stunning mirror glazes, and just insanely detailed and beautiful pastries. As you’d probably expect really. I find myself just scrolling through on autopilot now, admiring all their beautiful creations.

As for me – some of my baking is moderately pretty, but there’s a way to go. All tastes nice though.

Get Found

I love getting lost. Not “I-was-meant-to-arrive-half-an-hour-ago-and-I-still-can’t-get-off-this-ring-road” lost (a frequent type of lost I encounter), but the kind of lost where you’re wandering along and then look up and realise you’re somewhere new and interesting. The kind of place you only find accidentally, probably because you’re already lost in your own thoughts.

I hate feeling lost, however, which I feel increasingly often. Sometimes it feels like the world is moving very quickly and I’m struggling to keep up, and I don’t have people there to egg me on in the same way, or help me work out which direction to go when I get confused and scared. Or rather, I have some people, and those people are great (cheers to those people) but they can’t always be there, and sometimes I lose them as well accidentally, and then it’s all just a whole bundle of lost.

So, like everything in my life (apparently), I’ve approached it from a linguistic point of view. Why am I worried about feeling lost, or being lost? Maybe I should just be focusing on getting found.

And before we continue, let’s clarify what we mean by get found. I am not looking for talent scouts. Photos of me are not posted somewhere on the internet (except here, and Facebook, and Instagram, and…shut up). I just mean getting that feeling of comfort you get when you’re in a place you know really well, or with people you know really well. Warm and fuzzy and home.

A great way to get found is to make everywhere feel like home, so I’ve been paying more attention when I walk. Which is more impressive when you remember quite how obsessive I am about my surroundings and seeing new and interesting things (for reference, my instagram)

I know that 10 years down the line (if blogging/the internet/the Earth still exists then) this is going to be one of those posts that I look back on and cringe, but right now, this is the thing I want to capture. Sometimes, life is scary, and it takes you in directions you weren’t expecting which almost always means you don’t end up where you’d planned. Don’t let it get to you. You don’t have to feel lost, you can find yourself (this is the cringe moment, you’re welcome) instead.

Careful the things you say

A couple of years ago, I think if you had asked people what I most commonly said, they’d have replied immediately “sorry” – I used to constantly apologise. For just existing most of the time. I’d apologise if something went wrong in my presence, even if I was completely uninvolved.

I apologised so much that in the end, my other half told me it didn’t mean anything to him any more. Despite the fact that (still) whenever I say sorry I mean it in a very heartfelt way, that was now totally lost on him, and no doubt on other people as well.

I still apologise a lot, but I think I’m a bit better at it now. And instead of apologising, whenever I can, I say thank you instead.

Now, I hear what you’re thinking. Thank you is not the same as sorry. But hear me out on this one.

  • Sorry that I got annoyed/angry/said the wrong thing -> Thank you for being so understanding
  • Sorry I did something wrong -> Thank you for helping me out in that tricky situation
  • Sorry I was late -> Thank you for waiting for me
  • Sorry I didn’t reply -> Thank you for following up/taking the time to find out how I am

It works. And mostly I think it works because people don’t like hearing the word sorry. It implies blame, and often it’s blame which they haven’t placed. Saying sorry can make people feel guilty that they’ve made you feel bad, but saying thank you just reassures them that you are aware of the imperfection of the situation, and you appreciate the part they have played in it.

It’s not a big change, really, and honestly I still apologise ALL THE TIME, but I do try now to really think about when I can show my gratitude for the effort that people put in for me.

You’re welcome, and thank you.

Things I learnt during show week

(Listicles are still a cool and popular format, right?)

  1. I am quite good at folding large numbers of costume bags
  2. In general life I am quite body-conscious and avoid showing skin if I can help it. But I will absolutely strip to my undies in the corridor of a theatre for a quick change and not bat an eye
  3. I still can’t dance.
  4. Dressing-room camaraderie is just lovely, and during a stressful week I could not have wished for nicer people to share a bench with
  5. There are levels of tired I haven’t reached yet, but dear lord I have been close this week
  6. Children are better actors than everyone, I’ll hear no more on the matter.
  7. Children are incredibly strong (or I am incredibly weak)
  8. Nothing beats a good pair of legwarmers.
  9. I am wife material, if your definition includes turning up in hotpants with cupcakes.
  10. Creative people can do amazing things with a few square foot of space and I am in awe of the crew.
  11. I want to do props for the rest of my life
  12. It is possible to do a choir concert and then 6 all-singing all-dancing musicals, but it is not advisable
  13. If you leave my parents alone for 24 hours they will completely re-landscape your garden
  14. I love theatre. I don’t understand how I forget this. It’s just brilliant. Get yourself down to a theatre and get involved (and if you’re a bit inept like me, find the friendly and inclusive people because it makes all the difference in the world).

The Wedding Singer was incredible, and I am ever so sad to say goodbye to it. I’m excited to revel in my free time of course (barring the two board meetings and two subcommittees I have this week) but I’m so excited to be part of a new community of people and I’m excited for the next thing, whatever it is. Probably panto to be honest. Remember the time I dressed as a fish for a pantomime? A story for another day.

LIDOS, it has been swell.

…and if you need something to do over the summer, can I recommend the fabulous Left Bank Opera Festival?

Left Bank Opera Festival

Left Bank Opera festival – 22nd-26th Aug, Left Bank, with Northern Opera Group

Happy

Happiness means different things to different people.

For example, to some people (Pharrell Williams), happy means feeling like a room without a roof. Some people (Pharrell Williams) have an odd description of happiness.

I think my definition of happy is a pretty standard definition. I feel happy when I see other people smiling. I like knowing that the people around me are having a good time, and that they have the things they need and that they are enjoying life. Sometimes (read: literally constantly) I help people feel happy by providing them with copious amounts of baked goods. Less frequently I give people hugs. Sometimes I make jokes.

Normally my jokes are terrible and don’t make people happy.

I’ll do just about anything though, to put a smile on someone’s face. It’s utterly selfish. I truly believe that we all deserve to get that warm fuzzy feeling of genuine proper happy, which is a little bit lacking in the world at large these days.

Sometimes I get caught by surprise by happiness, because it turns up in unexpected forms. Today, for example, I was thanked for a bunch of things I barely realise I’ve even done. It was so unexpected that I caught myself actually grinning (which is terrifying and I think we can all agree should be avoided). I hope that someone else got their happy from knowing how happy they made me. God bless all the happiness vampires of the world.

Given that this has taken a turn, it’s probably time for me to set my keyboard aside and go back to the other things that make me happy (my bed, netflix, late-night coffee) but before I do, please don’t forget that the best way to make me happy right now is to come to all of the things – as a reminder, they are:

Leeds Vocal Movement

Leeds Vocal Movement summer concert, 16th June, Left Bank

The Wedding Singer - LIDOS

Wedding Singer – 19th-23rd June, Carriageworks Theatre, with LIDOS

Left Bank Opera Festival

Left Bank Opera festival – 22nd-26th Aug, Left Bank, with Northern Opera Group