Archive for June, 2009

It’s been a rather social week.

Monday I went to a private show at Camberwell College of Arts to look at their graduating student exhibition. My friend Flick (incidentally, not her real name, as I discovered after NOT finding her work) had just finished her MA in Conservation and the Ledger books she’d repaired were on display. I really Other exhibits included some papyrus, conserved in a “less innovative way” (code for, the Museum that owns the piece wouldn’t take my advice); a navy velvet Victorian jacket; a copy of Dante; a ‘heiroglyphical’ bible, essentially a version of the bible with some nouns replaced by line drawings and the images of a Norwich fabric pattern book from the 1700s which was still in Norwich, although it is going on display in September. Sounds like a good excuse for a viist. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and hanging out with Flick, getting the insider’s description of the works and the personalities of each conservator.

Managed to get lost on the way home, by taking the bus going in the other direction. I really miss my ability to zen navigate in this country. It’s probably because of a lack of familiarity with how everything connects, and this will change in time, nevertheless, it’s frustrating. On the other hand, I did get to fill in some of my knowledge of South London between Camberwell and Lewisham, so not all bad.

Wednesday I caught up with Brendan, who was on the London leg of his extended European holiday, and Monty, who hadn’t realised I’d moved over. We went out for curry in Brick Lane. I got to watch Monty haggle with the touts in front of each restaurant to get us a 20% discount, free beers and pappadums. I’d been to Brick Lane once before, on that occasion we walked into the 1st place we saw as we were all so hungry we didn’t care. This time round I got to see how it should be done.

Had a long lunch with Brendan the next day. It was perfect weather, so we headed to Canary Wharf (near where I work) and ate by the water. With the exception of Friday last week’s weather was gorgeous, similar to the best days in October in Sydney. If this is as hot as it gets all Summer then I’ll be happy.

Saturday we caught up with Scruffy & J to do a tour of Hever Castle, which is only two valleys away from our house. This is the castle that Anne Boleyn grew up in, and where she retired while Henry VIII was getting his marriage with Catherine of Aragon annulled. It was full of Tudor portraits, most of the ones J and I were familiar with from our costuming days. We lingered in these sections of the castle while Jed and Scruffy motored on ahead and had a relaxing recline on the lawn. Hever is surrounded by fantastically landscaped gardens built in the early 19th century to house the collection of artifacts that a member of the Astor family collected while he was the British ambassador to Italy. Some of these items date back 2000 years. I took many photos (of course) which will be on my Flickr account soon.

Yesterday we re-arranged the house to make it more liveable. Very happy with the results, and we could tell it was a success from the impressed exclamations of our flatmate, Robbie, when he came home.

Otherwise I’ve not got as much done this week as I wanted to, mostly as I bought two PC games on special last week, Rollercoast Tycoon 3 and Settlers 5, and have been sucked into the vortex of gaming. There’s a reason I wasn’t allowed to purchase anything like this until after I’d secured employment. Robbie is a PC gamer as well, so now evenings at our place consist of the 3 of us in the living room with our laptops going and the TV on in the background. Quite communal in a strange sort of way.

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Reflections on bedtime

One of the most interesting (to me) parts of becoming a responsible adult in a child’s life is observing the rules and rituals that go into giving that child’s life stability, health, freedom and boundaries. One of these is the regular bed-time rule.

Which got me thinking. As adults we impose rules on children as we know it is for their good, but they might specifically recognise this –

  • eat all your vegetables
  • clean your teeth
  • lights out by 9pm
  • etc.

But, then, we forget to do these things ourselves. (side note, this is an interesting post on how we don’t share as much as adults despite encouraging our children to do so)

During my 3 month ‘retirement’ I could sleep as long as I needed to. (Interestingly sometimes this was 12 hours straight). This also meant that I could go to bed later than I would have while I was working, especially as Jed is a bit of a night owl.

But, is this really a good idea? Especially now I am back at work. I need to be out of bed by 6.50 on a work day, which means an alarm at 6.30. I need 8-ish hours sleep to function properly, so I should really be in bed by 10.30. And yet, 3 nights this week I’ve gone to bed at midnight.

The difference? There’s no responsible adult telling me to get ready for bed. And perhaps a bit hypocritical to be telling a child she has to go to bed at a regular time, no matter what interesting things are happening, when we don’t follow that rule as well.

(this post is about someone’s else’s experiences on re-creating a sleep time habit. I’m not as logical-process oriented than him, but it’s been an interesting part of this reflection)

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Last week

Since I seem to be reticent to make theme based updates at the moment (partially because I want to write about work, but don’t feel I can do so while I am at work, but the writing bug doesn’t hit at home) I’ve decided to start a weekly “what I did last week” post. That way daily life can be conveyed, this gets updated more frequently so I don’t lost touch with people, and I get a record of what I’ve done. Everyone wins!

Last week was the week of flatmate changover. We lost Andy, who is a nice chap, but so not the sort of interactive flatmate I’ve come to love and appreciate, and gained Robbie, who probably is. We’re all doing our respective geekeries together in the main room, for starters, rather than gaming, drinking and smoking in a bedroom while Jed and I are in the main room. Also, joint household organisation actually seems to be happening with two organisation freaks in the house. Yay!

In the process Jed and I moved into the larger bedroom. Originally the plan was to move away from Redhill soon after I arrived. We’ve decided to stay here until mid-Autumn so that we can get a better financial position, and get a bit more settled into life together, before inflicting the stress of moving house on ourselves. This means we now have double the wardrobe space (my clothes are no longer getting pressed while hanging up) and an extra 3 ft in length, which has made an amazing amount of difference.

On Friday afternoon my manager took the 3 recent hirees on a tour of the Borough, to see what facilities we were looking after and the differences in the various communities. The weather was lovely and it was good to get out of the office and find out about various parks and markets in the area. This is one of the reasons I’m happy to be doing this work at the moment, despite the fact that it’s become apparent that they’ve not really got a plan for what they want me to do, just that they should have someone to do this work; it’s a good way to learn about my new city/region.

A dear friend, Ms Decline, got married on the weekend, and I was her best man, so the week was also spent preparing for this. Mostly this involved buying a tophat (pics on Facebook, until I can snaffle a couple to load onto Flickr), some fun presents, and working out where to go. It was a very relaxed, lovely ceremony. It was good to see Dee quietly, radiantly happy, including making the entire gathering giggle while she signed the fake register for photos. She has the most adorable, infectious giggle. Predictably we ate too much at the wedding brunch, and then spent the next 24 hours recovering. Good thing I’d booked a massage for Sunday, to help with this recovery.

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43 Things

I created a 43 things account years ago, between splitting with my ex fiance, and deciding on the Year of Living Adventurously. Following my previous post (and a dull day in the office) I’ve decided to re-ignite it.

You can check out my list of things here: http://www.43things.com/person/Risby and ‘follow’ me if you also have an account. There’s also a widgety thing in the sidebar of this page.

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Returning from lunch after reading a provocative book (might cover this later) I realised that in many ways I have in front of me a blank canvas to construct a life, and started to think about how I wanted to live. Which then somehow led to a reflection on the difference between choosing a life based on how you want to live vs choosing one on how you should live.

I’ll probably define this differently to most people, but I see it as the following:

How you should live is the test of your 20s, checking cultural norms and stereotypes, going along with something because either your parents lived that way, or all the cool kids are doing so (or rebelling against these two things). Whereas deciding how you want to live is about active reflection of what makes you happy and satisfied and choosing to pursue this. I feel that this is a question you answer in your 30s, or maybe that’s just me. I’m sure my younger sister started answering this question a few years ago, for instance. The second is more work and takes more effort than the first, but is in turn more worthwhile.

Becstarr and I have spoken many times about the benefits of share housing, and I suspect this might be one of them. It gives you a better chance to break-down what is an unconscious normalised habit and what actually works for you as you are exposed to many different ways of setting up a house, and negotiating how to live within that space.

A quick shortlist of some of the ways I want to live, which I know add to my personal well-being:

  • a mostly clean and uncluttered house. Not scrupulously so, but a place where care has been taken
  • fresh, interesting, home-cooked meals, eaten together at a table. This has been one of the best aspects of the first few months in Surrey. Few opportunities to eat out (far from the lure of King St, Newtown), and so in order to continue to enjoy food I have been forced (and have enjoyed) more cooking than previously.
  • coming home at a reasonable hour to spend time with loved ones, rather that working late. I turned down a job interview today for a potentially very prestigious job because of this reason.
  • plants, flowers, light, air flow
  • good, flowing, intelligent conversation about concepts and issues, or fun, creative conversations about ideas and experiences. These are not mutually exclusive
  • a sense that adventures are possible and new things can be discovered on a regular basis
  • being able to dress in a way that makes me feel elegantly stylish
  • a sense that there is more to life than sleep-eat-work-recover

This is just the start, I’ll be tucking this idea away for future reflection. I suppose this is an important aspect of the title of this blog, what I mean by learning to fly. I had planned to write a full-post on that idea, it will happen, at some stage.

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I have a job, (more on that later, when I’m not actually at work taking a quick blog break), and since I don’t have a car, and this is London, and I like to do so, I catch public transport to work every day. Along with the majority of people that work in London.

The standard trip takes 1.5 hours door to door, on a good day. If there’s engineering works on my line, or there’s lots of crowds then add 15 mins. If there’s a tube strike add 30 mins. All in all, not a bad run considering I live outside the M25 (the ring road around London).

Why a poster child? The variety of public transport types I catch every day.

The standard trip in is: train – tube – light rail. On the way home it’s light rail – tube – train – train. (I generally just miss the direct train from London Bridge, so change at East Croydon as it’s quicker than waiting for the next direct service)

Generally the tube is the Jubilee line, in which speed is traded for space, at least until Canary Wharf where all the bankers get off and the carriage empties. I’m getting rather sick of the daily game of sandines; being poked and prodded by handbags, or having men’s elbows in my face. I’ve worked out that women tend to pack closer than men, so if I can target the knot of men at one end of a carriage then there’s generally more space around them. Once we clear Canary Wharf then there’s ample space to put down bags, coats and finish reading the paper/a book.

I have the option of taking a tube to Bank, then a long walk down many tunnels to the light rail station. This is generally a less squishy option, but adds about 15 mins to the journey since the light rail stops more frequently and doesn’t travel as fast. However, it is probably the cheapest rollercoaster around, maybe not the most exciting. Try sitting in the front of the second carriage one day and enjoy the camber on the corners, the jolting and the surreality of the twisting carriage in front of you as the train dives into a tunnel.

There’s been a tube strike the last two days. This hasn’t been to bad for me, as my unaffected train service arrives in a similar part of London. The best option has been another train to Greenwich, then the light rail up through the Isle of Dogs. Adds 30 mins to the trip, but I get to see a part of London that I might not have otherwise.

Last, but not least, there is a bus (red double-decker) that leaves from the front of my work direct to Canary wharf, the closest transport hub, and major shopping precinct, which is yet another way to get home. If I take that option then in one trip I can combine every sort of public transport available in Greater London, except a ferry. Hence, poster child.

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