Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Community spirit

Yesterday, there was an awful house fire not far from where I live. In fact, I have a friend who lives in the same close. Fortunately, the family got out unharmed, but the family dogs - who, I believe, raised the alarm - perished. Naturally, the family are  devastated. They have lost everything.

The community is rallying round, thanks to social media. The local gym has become a collection point for  donations of clothes and other goods, and a fundraising event is being organised at the pub down the road. Face Book is full of messages of support and offers of help. Isn't that wonderful?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Who's got that Friday feeling?

It's strange that even though I'm not tied to a Monday to Friday existence, what with being my own boss and having no one in the education system, I still get that Friday feeling.

I can't settle to anything today, because Joe is packing up around me ready for his house move tomorrow. Poor excuse, I know. Still, I've written my plan for this afternoon's yoga lesson (releasing the spine through rotations, since you ask), and I've done some proofreading.

Today, I'm celebrating:
  • Joe preparing to fly the nest - not because I want him to go, but because it's just so exciting for him
  • Fab exhibition at the local arts centre
More artistic talent: chain saw carving at Woodfest last weekend (apologies for the portaloo in the background!
Have a good weekend, folks.

'Celebrate the small things' is a bloghop instigated by VikLit on her blog Scribblings of an Aspiring Author and co-hosted by Diana Wilder, LG Keltner @ Writing Off the Edge, Cyborg Mom (Katie) and CaffeMaggieato @ mscoffeehouse. Details are here

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


There seem to be as many festivals as there are towns at the moment, which is wonderful. I was at a local music festival last Saturday where a couple of my friends were playing. The weather was glorious and it was lovely to be able to drift between the four stages (via the beer tent and food outlets, of course) and soak up the atmosphere. One of the 'stages' was simply a clearing in the woodland (pictured), where the amp was powered from a solar panel and the singers were accompanied by birds, butterflies and dragonflies. Sadly, the Sunday was cancelled because of the atrocious weather, but some of the bands that were due to play relocated to a couple of pubs and played there instead. It was all very organic.
James Herring at Woodfest 2014, Northamptonshire
Elsewhere in the Shire, Boughton House, which is the seat of the Duke of Buccleuch, should have been hosting Alt-Fest this weekend, an extravaganza of heavy metal, industrial, alternative and the like. Sadly, this was cancelled for reasons that aren't clear, but seem to be connected to ego, greed, mismanagement and confusion. The ticket-holders will (I assume) get a refund - but what about all those hotel rooms, campsites and train tickets that have been booked? The Kettering spirit has come to the rescue with the wittily titled 'Ctrl Altfest Delete' which has been organised at incredible speed to salvage something from the fiasco. Two pubs in town will be venues for a great line-up of acts.

Meanwhile, Boughton House is gearing up for Greenbelt next weekend. Let's just hope that the Goths and the God-botherers don't get their dates mixed up.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Life gets teejus, don't it*

National Allotments Week did not get off to a good start. Something has taken all but seven of our 50-odd leek seedlings from our plot. Each was planted in a toilet-roll tube collar and the bed is encased by wooden boards and netting, so I suppose if some critter was tenacious enough to overcome all that it kind of deserves to succeed. Small consolation, though. I love leeks.

On the other hand, the onions, garlic, plums, beans and courgettes are going strong, the tubs at home have started to yield carrots, and if we could just get all those green tomatoes to turn red we'd be in business. Whistlestop Cafe, anyone?

In other news, the storm on Saturday has dislodged more of the hideous cladding from the boundary wall at the front of the house. We are definitely letting the side down now, but if any of the neighbours are offended by our shabby aspect they are welcome to pay for the renovation. Inside the house, the shower has started to make the most peculiar noise and the washing machine has given up the ghost.

Still, mustn't grumble.

* Check out this song on YouTube.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Barefoot delights

When the chap wearing the cut-off jeans and Native American headdress is the normal one in the group sitting on the opposite hay bale, you know you're not in Kettering any more.

Preparing for a gong bath
We're back from the Barefoot Festival, where I led some meditations - something I've not done at a festival before. Thanks to old and new friends who came along and accepted my offering, and who persevered with me despite the distractions from beyond the Chill Out Area. (Bass? What bass?!)

Big thumbs up, too, to hubby Clive, who embraced the strangeness with an open mind. He had never set foot on a yoga mat until this weekend, but to my (and his) astonishment, he threw himself into the gong baths*, the chanting, the African drumming, the Shamanic journeys and, especially, the Laughter Yoga with Heike. He encountered a Priestess of Avalon, tasted his first cup of chai ('Not as nice as "proper" tea') and connected with  his inner hippy; I never thought I'd hear him say to a total stranger; 'Greetings, glorious goddess.'

'Girls On Fire' Show
It was a wonderful weekend, surrounded by gentle, friendly folk and too many new experiences to list, but I must mention the awesome musicians, including my friend Kenneth J Nash, the circus performers who literally played with fire, the burlesque artistes and the ukulele workshop. We're already thinking about next year.

A few bullet points to finish with:
  • You can never have too many fairies in one place
  • Children don't die if you let them run around in the sun in their underwear; nor do they get abducted if you let them talk to a stranger
  • An airbed is a wonderful thing
  • No one deposits pixie dust in a Portaloo (good grief!)
  • There is no such thing as weird; it's just a matter of context

* Apologies to the wonderful gong bath leader, but I didn't get his name. If you know him (or if you are him), please let me know and I'll change the caption.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Chop chop: it's Friday again

Just time for a quick CTST post today as I'm already behind and it's not even nine o'clock yet.

Joe's gig with Ivory Yardsale went well last weekend. Now we're celebrating the release of their new EP called 'Enfield'. You can listen to it on Bandcamp here, and download it, too, should you so wish. They are headlining tomorrow night, but I shan't be able to go because...

At the Pomfret Arms all-dayer
...I'm off to the Barefoot Festival for the weekend. Yes, hubby and I have dusted off the sleeping bags and are steeling ourselves for three nights under canvas. It'll be fine (we keep saying). I'm leading some meditation session while we're there, so I get a 'Performer's Pass'!

Make the most of the fine weather, folks. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Soldier, Soldier

There was some pomp and circumstance in Kettering today, when the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment was welcomed home and granted Freedom of the Borough. The regiment is recently returned from Afghanistan. There was a (to me) surprisingly large turnout for the occasion and the route of the parade was lined with folk. The whole thing culminated in a bit of ceremonial wotnot in the Market Square, where various dignitaries made speeches we couldn't hear - but I'm sure they were very nice.

I don't know much about the armed forces. The nearest I've come to any involvement was a brief dalliance with a submariner who later was involved in the Falklands conflict and was on the Sheffield when it was sunk.

We are, of course, surrounded by First World War stuff at the moment and I'm glad, because we need reminding how awful it was. The Second World War, too, shouldn't be forgotten. However, I have a problem with treating regular soldiers as heroes.

As far as I'm aware, no one is forced to join the army these days. If you sign up, you do so in the full knowledge that, notwithstanding the fabulous opportunities for training, travel, camaraderie and personal growth, there is a chance you will get shot at at some point. Does this make you a hero? I wonder. This isn't to say that there aren't individual acts of heroism, where a member of the armed forces will take a huge risk to rescue a civilian or a colleague. That's different, though.

I've had a quick look on the MOD website, and the starting salary for a regular solider is in the region of £18,000. That's quite a lot; but if you don't think it's worth everything that being in the army involves, don't sign up. Compare this to the RNLI volunteers who risk their lives for strangers for no financial reward, and who have to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Which is the more heroic?