Thursday, 26 May 2011

Grungy birthdays

Just a thought - it seems to me that all kids birthday party invites are kinda elephants and monkeys or sugary little girls with balloons? I'm scribbling a few ideas for characters for kids invites that are more "current".
What do you think of Josie?

Fresh ink and boat shows

Greetings Earthlings! I was thinking last night about how we present ourselves to the world and the little quirks and strokes of obstinance that make us strive to look a certain way.
For example, I saw a photo yesterday of the freshly inked tattoo I'd designed for the lovely John Ashdjian and had a real pang that I can't yet have another tattoo myself.  With all my now ever-present allergy issues god knows what would happen and I don't like the idea of being left with something permanent that my body has physically tried to reject... methinks the end picture would be distorted to say the least!

John's new tattoo, my design from his idea.

But I do love my tattoos. For the most part you're unlikely to ever see them these days. You may see the one on the top of my right foot, with some of the winding ivy from the wedding invitation I designed for mine and Mr W's big day, but you're unlikely to notice the huge butterfly backpiece that wraps accross the top of each shoulder and spreads down to the middle of my back, and the myriad of other pieces (all designed by me, cept my first one, a dragon in the middle!) that cover the rest of my back and wrap around my waist.
I'm kind of happy about that!  I'm in no way embarrassed or ashamed by them, but they feel like my little secret. Specially now I always look rough because I'm not so well.  There's more to me than meets the eye.
I know you know what I mean.

Makes you wonder what other people have lurking though! I remember being in hospital one time and this really clean cut consultant leant me forward to listen through my back and his comment being "gosh, that's expensive" as apposed to the standard "ooh that must have hurt" or similar. For him to know that what I have is expensive left me with a sneaking suspicion about what may have been lurking under his crisp white shirt!

It seems that quite a lot of boaters (die hard liveaboards, not weekenders) have bodyart.  I think there's something about the way you can't stress out on the water in the same way you do in a house that makes stuff ok, and makes you more open to ideas and ways of expressing them.  I'm no hippy, don't get me wrong. I work, I pay my bills, I wash (myself and my clothes!!), and am a fairly proactive member of society, but when I get home to Zulu, I don't want to leave and I take a more relaxed view of things. It takes something really good to winkle me out of my stretch of riverbank.  It's certainly given me the whatever it was I needed to start being creative again. 

So this weekend something is occurring that is exciting enough to us boaty types to warrant getting in the car and driving for bloomin ages.  It's the Crick Boat Show this weekend!! Loads of boats and boaters will get together for boaty-flavoured shopping and entertainment and I can't wait!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Striking the balance and dealing with the see-saw effect

Life onboard Zulu is always interesting and never dull but sometimes the events that shake us up aren't nice ones.  It seems that there has been much heartache for several of our good friends in recent times and they've not said anything because they very sweetly feel we have enough to deal with of our own.  Admittedly I had a day out in London last week to see my allergy consultant there and came back with new drugs (relatively "safe" ones suitable for people with bleeding tummies etc - this is not what I have btw!) that I then had quite a nasty reaction to, but it doesn't mean that I don't have mental space to support my friends.  When my darling daddy was diagnosed with terminal cancer he astounded us by pointing out that everyone around him had started being nicer to each other.  They had been reminded that tomorrow isn't a guarantee.  He said that he was proud that people could take something positive from his situation.  I'm not terminally ill, I don't have one of the biggies, but things are tough sometimes, and there are times when admittedly I can look pretty scary.  I hope it's not egotistical of me to hope that rather than pitying me, people see me and take stock of what they have, and how much they love the people around them, and take those extra moments to show their love. It doesn't take much to show someone that you love and appreciate them; doesn't have to be flashy gifts. I handwritten note or card left for them to find can be priceless to someone having a really shitty day!

I do believe that we become a little engrossed in our own world down on the riverbank, and it's very easy to become almost detatched from the outside world in a way.  We have gone months in the past where we would do our working week and then cast off the ropes on a Friday at ten past five, and not come back to our mooring until teatime on Sunday and we would have specifically been to beautiful spots on our river where we would be either completely alone or with other similarly minded boaters who don't feel the need to cruise from pub to pub. We didn't deal with supermarkets on a Saturday, or feel the need to plumb in the satellite dish and watch the news (we'd catch up on Monday anyways) or mingle with loud crowds.  We could sit somewhere beautiful and idylic and read our chosen book, drink tea, and relax with our monsters.

Things changed gradually after I started getting sick and we tend not to cruise too far and Mr W gets anxious if we moor anywhere remote in case I need to get to a hospital in a hurry.  Taxi drivers aren't good at finding some of our local marinas (as we know from experience one of the first times my health issues became very obvious) so his fears aren't completely unfounded.  There are a few moorings though that FEEL remote and offer the tranquility and detatchment that I'm missing so much, so we do still manage a few nights out here and there.  This change has almost forced us back into the "normal" world though, along with a teenager that doesn't want us to go anywhere without her and refuses to cook for herself that has to stay at the marina to be able to get to work at the pub next door.  She does have her own boat, her own kitchen, etc but it doesn't seem to make any difference! :o)

So as we're not disappearing down the river this weekend but I look forward to meeting my lovely friend, J, for a little girly shopping trip around the very pretty Ely, and perhaps find some more crafting materials to play with! If my hands stop feeling like they've been flayed I'm looking forward to bringing some of the pictures into my head into reality.  There are folks waiting for things and it makes me so sad that I can't just whip into action that way I'd like to.  I guess it makes my creations that much more special though, right? I have to fight for them! :o) 

So this weekend, whether you're forcing your way through the supermarket in the real world, or hiding in an imaginary world of your own in your equivalent of the remote mooring, take a moment and think about the people you love and maybe mention to them that you did? And take a moment to think about you too. Do something you really want to do - even if it's just play silly buggers in the garden with the dog for five minutes!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Boats and Bikes

We had a great time today but it was after a tough start to the day!  Yesterday was taken up with a cake commission for a party at the pub next door to the marina, The Five Miles from Anywhere No Hurry Inn.  They wanted a real seventies campervan for a chap called Derek and that was all I was told so I really wasn't sure what details to make and how to style it.

I was pleased with how it came out even though it wasn't how I'd pictured it at all.  My description of it is that if Charlie Brown cartoons had a campervan it'd look like this one!

While I was busy making cake (a LOT of cake - this took around three times as much cake as I'd usually use for a celebration cake!) Mr W was out playing in the cup match with his rugby team.  They won (of course!) and he and the guys went out to celebrate!  Needless to say, it got fairly messy.  One of the guys was wearing a particularly fetching pink jacket apparantly so they removed it from him and set fire to it. Obviously.  Perhaps its a good thing he doesn't go out often.  Unfortunately for the chaps the rugby pitch was so hard it was like playing on concrete and all of them felt like their feet had been flayed.  I managed to stay awake long enough to collect my beloved at about 2am and by this time he could barely walk - and it wasn't down to the beer!
So we got to bed around 3am and then got up around 10am when Joseph wanted a walk.  We were then slightly knackered for our busy day we had planned! Mr W's feet were still very painful and we had a lot of walking ahead of us after a drive in Biskit (our little old cheap 4x4 that we ferry Joseph around in) which is manual (Mr W drives an automatic Jag normally....) so it was going to be tough.

The first part of our day was a trip to the Ace Cafe in London.  Our teenager and her lovely friend seemed a teeny bit overwhelmed but it was great; the sun was out, the parking area was rammed with bikes, and there was a great atmosphere.  We stopped for long enough to use the loo, and so that Mr W could buy some chequered tape for his lid!

After that we pootled on over the five miles to Little Venice.  There was a huge calvacade there today which I've been fizzing about for weeks.  I was surprised when I saw the programme that there was a lot of priestly blessings and stuff going on but it was amazing to see all the boats.  I felt kind of funny in amongst the normal tourists though - felt like I need a tshirt saying "I live on a boat" so we were only semi-tourists! I loved seeing so many boats there though, really loved it. We stopped for a snack when we got there at the floating cafe and our Joseph got given a plate of sausages by the waitress!! I think this almost made up for the specially-inflated-for-the-day prices taped over the regular ones...

The funniest thing about the day was the reaction Joseph got everywhere we went. Considering he's a two year old, eight and a half stone pure German Shepherd he got mugged with every step he took and was quite offensively loved by a few kids!
One little lad screamed with excitement when he saw him, threw his arms round his neck for a cuddle, then shoved his hand in his mouth and tried to grab his tongue! Luckily Joseph is naturally really careful around kids and he just looked at his dad with "um... what the hell do I do???" written all over his face!

So we walked around the stalls (not very impressive unfortunately) and then came home so that Mr W could finally take the weight off his feet! I might perhaps be biased (ok, probably a LOT biased) but I kept thinking that what I saw was pretty rubbish compared to my own work (its ok to blow your own trumpet occassionally, right?) and definately not up to the standard of so many of my awesome facebook friends and folksy sellers like Wychbury , Kirsty Elson Designs , LittleWhiteCottage , Handmade by Noelle and Pants and Paper who are all doing something truly creative and producing beautitful things that I feel would have really suited the market there this weekend.  It makes me slighty cross that narrowboat events seem to attract nothing but bloody roses and castles and gives such a dated impression of the boating community to those visiting that really are 100% tourist.  I wished I could pull up my boat, whip out a table and show off some of my designs and see how people reacted.  I felt so thwarted!  There was nothing truly original there at all which was a real shame.  I was prepared for inspiration, envy, and shopping but we bought an icecream and left with nothing but photos!

So our last day of the holiday is to be spent cruising down to Waterbeach for lunch at the Bridge (unfortunately the teenager has to work at 3pm so she cant come....) but I'm not feeling so spritely as after a year with not a single cold due to all the drugs I take for the whole unexplainable being allergic to myself thing her teenage germs have penetrated my system and I have snotty sinusitus to finish the long weekend on. Yay.
Determined to have a good day though and I hope you do too!  xxx