All posts by Sally

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

Not an ad vol 2. (return of the not-so-covert ads)

love to sing.

When people ask about singing I always give the same answer. All range, no skill. That’s me, though it’s probably a little unfair to the parents who paid for lessons, and the singing teachers who taught me for years. It feels accurate though, because despite many years of pretending otherwise, I really can’t read music at all, I struggle with pitching, and I can’t ever hear my line in a harmony.

I can sing a bunch of notes though, so I do. And as with a great many things in life, I do so with great (and slightly intense, I imagine) enthusiasm. If being enthusiastic is a talent, then that’s my talent. Need someone to think your thing is the best thing ever. Give this girl a call [points at self].

In recent times I have been testing the limits of my singing a bit – dabbling in interesting bass lines, mostly hanging around the tenor section (being a tenorlady, yes the joke is purposeful, no I will not stop making it) and singing soprano while dancing (!). Sometimes singing soprano instead of tenor for kicks/to see if I can still hit the high notes – with questionable results.

I remain, I fear, mostly range, minimally skill.

But, the other people in the room are full of skill, and range, and all that good stuff. So, you should come and see them. And me. But them. And their wonderful skill, and beautiful singing.

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

Perspective

You know sometimes you have one of those weeks which just ages you. Like, it goes on for a 1,000 years and everyone else is just confused by why you’re tired CONSTANTLY but it’s because time is going differently for you.

Last week felt like one of the longest weeks of my life, and like everything which could go wrong, did. Murphy’s Law in full force, from all sides. I think I let myself get secretly ill (which I sometimes do) and that probably didn’t help.

And then a huge old thing happened to give me a massive smack in the face of perspective. Funny like that, life.

Sometimes it genuinely is about looking around you, and measuring your life by the things you have, not the things you don’t. By the choices you make and the chances you take, not the things you miss or the shoulda-woulda-coulda. I’m not trying to be poetic here, I just mean that we live in an age where we are constantly seeing everyone else’s half-full (or overflowing) glass, and finding ours lacking in comparison, and we should just stop. Take a deep breath. Look at all the wonderful things you have.

I used to have a rule that I never went to sleep angry, and recently I’ve probably broken that a few times. But I’m standing by it. Life is too short to get angry. I’m not saying the bad things don’t exist, but try to not let them throw a shadow on the good things, not all of the time.

They are all just things, in a big old world of things.

Not an ad (part 1)

Spoilers: It’s totally an ad.

It’s an ad for a show I’m so keen about that I drove all the way to Horsforth today without actually checking to see if I was needed.

I was not needed.

Good thing it was a lovely day for a drive.

So, what is this show that I am happy to drive all around Leeds for? And what do you mean I’m in a show again, didn’t I grow out of this? WELL. That’s what you thought (and I thought, and I mean I think we all thought I’d move on from this phase but now look)

Image may contain: text

This won’t be the first advert either, because of several reasons (to be elaborated on later) including the fact that I have to dance, that I have a child (possibly numerous, still unsure), that it’s genuinely hilarious, and that I potentially (unconfirmed) get points if I bring people. And points, as we know, mean prizes (probably).

(If you’re struggling to read my post today because of all of the bracketed clauses I’d like to apologise and say I KNOW but I just can’t help it, so there we are)

I’d also like to advertise gardening as an excellent thing to do with your life. Having discovered I didn’t need to be at rehearsal I promptly went back to the shop and bought wild flower seeds, which I’ve not planted yet because my garden is a hideous lumpy mess of weeds. But slightly less hideous and lumpy now that I’ve given it 5 hours of my life. Look at me, being all kinds of an adult.

Other things to advertise include Avengers: Infinity War (but only if you’re quite into the MCU) and the Lego Avengers game (because let’s not pretend I’ve actually fully become an adult – that may never happen).

Homeownership

It’s a good thing that I didn’t resolve to blog more frequently this year, because it would have been disappointing to fail so soon. I’ve been so busy owning a house that I’ve not had the chance to write slightly whimsical stories about it all.

Owning a house is expensive y’all. Admittedly, I did know that the house was going to need work and was therefore going to cost me money, but I didn’t expect things like ALL THE SNOW which made my kitchen roof leak within days of moving in. I didn’t expect to discover a series of ropy electrical choices that even I, with my limited knowledge of household wiring, know to be incredibly questionable. And which I have now had to pay someone to essentially just turn off.

I’m also still stuck with prepayment metres. I have called to try and get this changed (not because they are particularly more expensive, actually, but just because I don’t remember I need to top them up and then suddenly I just have no hot water – it’s not ideal) but there are no appointments. No appointments. Like time maybe just stops in about 2 weeks, and all the engineers are booked til then. So, great.

Some news is good though. I was incredibly lucky to get a lot of furniture given to me, so the house feels very much like a home. A slightly wobbly, slightly death-trappy home. Which I have only made worse by doing things like touching live wires (don’t worry Mum, I’m fine) and by taking things apart in a slightly wanton way.

But I can, because I OWN it. Which is not an excuse to immediately break it, but at least it’s my own damn fault if I make the place completely unlivable.

Which I won’t.

I mean, I own scatter cushions. It’ll be fine.