Category Archives: nostalgia and memories

Juxtaposition after yesterday’s bitter bite

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDPW_g2AhAU

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So yesterday’s post was a little on the bitter and dark side (quiterightlyso). I don’t want people to get bored of my blog and just think it’s rant rant moan moan- it’s not intended to be the emo-teenage-angst diaries 7 years too late, so I thought I would try and juxtapose it by speaking a little bit of the positive elements in my life at the moment. Here is a bit about the exhilaration of mountain biking.

The first time I went to work in Megève, my utmost priority was figuring out a way to pack my much beloved mountain bike onto the plane. I still consider her my most beloved possession, largely because of the amount of money she’s saved me in bus tickets as well as the endless fun and adventure she has brought me when juddering down single-track trails at alarming speeds. What’s not to love? The paintwork, although a little chipped and worn these days is pretty and I decked her out with some super-cool customized handlebars from Superstar Components, which arrived in the post accompanied by some Haribo.

So after returning from Megève a second time, having had my feet shoe-horned into tightly buckled boots and clicked into skis, I was all too ready to throw myself atop my Trek and power down a mountain. Now bear in mind, despite doing a lot of physical labour all day everyday and skiing a few times a week, I am still not in the greatest shape at the moment (largely due to cheeky extra helpings of the sumptuous afternoon-tea spread), and so that extra bit of power that I really could have used to propel myself up the hill, was somewhat lost on just carrying up the extra pounds of cake. 

So my brother came home on some leave taken from the army and decided that he would give me a day of jock-style boot-camp (he’s in the Scottish Regiment), to try and kick-start me into some sort of regime. We headed up to Grizedale, listening to his driving playlist, a combination of classical rock, alternative and what I like to call ‘man-pop’. He had intentions for us to do the red-rated Northface Trail, 16km of single-track around the forest and I was feeling slightly apprehensive. Admittedly for the first 4km I was a bit of a nervous wreck, having not done much MTB for about 2 years and shaking like a shitting dog. Drop-offs were sort of stepped down in a faux-mountain biking way, bike clutched between trembling thighs as Brother Dear of Mine looked ahead trying to suppress the smirk that was attempting to escape across his face. Eventually though, I got into the swing of it, and started getting more and more daring, by getting onto the ramps and trying to pick up some speed on the steeper parts.

By the end of the trail, I had a go at more and more drop-offs and gave myself some thoroughly sore wrists by the end of it. The sensation when you finally let go of your fear and let it roll is what I imagine it’s like to take ecstasy, as that is exactly how I felt, ecstatic. With the handlebars juddering my wrists at Earth-shattering seismic levels and taking to the air like I couldn’t do anywhere else, I retained a memory which is still sending shivers down my spine a week later.

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A short piece about bacon.

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Everyone loves bacon. Well everyone who isn’t vegetarian that is to say. Bacon is the meat of life. I haven’t actually eaten any bacon today, but I plan to get my bacon out of the freezer and put it in the fridge so that I may have bacon and eggs tomorrow. My favourite German adjective “baconsche” as in “in the style of Francis Bacon, who is incidentally a pretty cool artist, you know, a little bit abstract. I think I actually prefer the smell of bacon to the taste and texture of the meat itself. The warm, salty comforting smell wafting through a house with the slight homely smell of burning logs combined with fresh coffee is the best kind of wake up one could wish for. The crunch of bacon, sandwiched in a roll of springy, soft white bread, with melted butter oozing through a paper napkin is always the greatest kind of sandwich. Little squares of bacon to compensate the boring texture of salad, just tossed in, making it nice and salty and crunchy.

Bacon really is the most satisfying meat.

2012- a playlist.

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I have a fairly pretentious music taste, and I am one of those wankers that professes to hold contempt for “chart music” (with exceptions). With the year drawing to close, I thought I would give a long-winded round up of the songs that have kept me sane in 2012.

January

Gotye,  Somebody that I used to know– This is breaking my first rule of “no chart music”. It was very fitting for the first few months of 2012 as the then relationship was on the rock, then hit a very tearful demise. Gotye hit a nerve with anyone who has ever gone through a break-up so my story is no different. I am still listening today, but not because I am mournful, I just love the song.

February

This is around about the time I started revisiting music from times gone by. Bombay Bicycle Club, Miike Snow and Delphic gave me the uplifting beats I needed to get through a depressing Cold-War with my Berliner landlady. To wind down, Passion Pit‘s acoustic “Sleepyhead” was the perfect accompaniment to my fascination with the full collection of Sherlock Holmes novels.

March– The month that I took the time to try out some covers. Walk off the Earth, Boyce Avenue, Orto Pilot. I did however go to see the Jezabels in concert at the beginning. Watching “A little piece” and “mace spray” live was one of my musical highlights of 2012.

April- – On April 16th, I moved back out to Germany to start my adventures in Heidelberg. I got my comfort music on as I made another journey into the unknown, just to “keep things real”, ya know. April was for my “go to” bands like Explosions in the Sky, Those Dancing Days, Death Cab for Cutie and Frightened Rabbit

May– I got into House M.D. during May. Probably a terrible idea when you’re on the year abroad and supposed to be socialising. I know the theme tune “Tear drop” (Massive Attack) a bit too well now. This was a time when I was generally trying to find German-produced music which I would actually listen to, but my efforts were fairly futile, and I am not ashamed to admit that there are few German musicians which have made it onto my MP3 player. I can recommend the following to discerning wannabe Germans though: Moonbootica, Tomte and the usual Deichkind/ other terrible German party music, which gets strangely addictive.

June– I can’t quite pinpoint when I decided Alex Clare was the next big thing for me, but I decided I liked his “edgy take” on sounding a lot like Maroon 5. The novelty wore off by September and I haven’t choice-fully played it since. I was also heavily stuck into the Decemberists’ “June Hymn” which was the perfect sound track to the summer landscape in which I was living.

July–  was a time of tying bonds and making promises to see all the friends I’d made in Germany again. Katie hooked me up to Neutral Milk Hotel and in return I gave her Ben Howard, particularly The Wolves, which we listened to on a boat trip to Neckarsteinach whilst getting illegally tipsy and opening bottles of beer on whatever we could suitably lay our hands on.

AugustOf Monsters and Men captured my imagination in August. I am very open to music from other destinations and always admire artists that write songs and music in a tongue which is not their own. I’m not sure how well “Little Talks” fared in the charts, but I know they have made a couple of guest appearances on BBC Radio 1. Something about the choice of trumpets, a female voice (they feature little in my playlists, usually because a lot of female singers make some really annoying sort of sighing noises which I cannot stand) and the sort of faraway fairytale type lyrics pumped me with energy and imagination. At the same time, August is always a time of year when it never hurts to listen to the charts, as often there are uplifting beats, which I really needed as motivation for my cycle rides to the Gym and however annoying “Wiley” is, he made for lots of amusing house mate jokes in September.

September– wasn’t all that interesting musically as months go, however I should definitely use this paragraph to give a bit of love to all those bands which have shaped my taste in music for the better.

Quick run-down 1) Death Cab- the most comforting, if a little emo, music produced. 2) The Shins- masters of indie, catchy and addictive but such good quality, New Slang has been one of my favourite songs since I was 17. 3) All Time Low– tacky, I know, but Remembering Sunday is a song which should be on EVERY MP3 and it’s really good for exercising to. 4) Kishi Bashi– a recent discovery, but so addictive. Songs: Bright Whites and Manchester could soon be reaching the “most played” list. 5) Yann Tiersen– the guy who composed the really beautiful score for Goodbye Lenin! and la vie fabuleux d’Amelie Poulain, some perfect melodies.

October– My house mates all seem to have a big thing for “Florence and the Machine”. I am personally not a fan, mostly because I don’t actually like the sound of her voice which sounds a bit off-key to me. In an effort to drown out this noise I would turn up The Naked and the Famous really loud on the CD player. A band I will never tire of due to punchy beats and brilliant lyrics and energy. Other remedies to  das Florencewelchproblem included: Young Rebel Set (“If I Was” had me hooked instantly), Anberlin and of course Placebo

November was all about Ben Howard. The day finally rolled around when I saw him live and it was amazing. I immediately downloaded his latest EP and listened to “Oats in the Water” on repeat. Something about it kind of reminded me of previous trips to Scotland and cold but peaceful places where I desperately wanted to be as the “Rabb-ture” (a pun on the name of one of my tutors, ignore this) doom of immigration essay deadline loomed. The first tings and bings of Christmas musak started to seep in gradually. Ears burned.

December I should probably dedicate December to Mike,  a friend of top musical guidance who has led me into the realms of things I may not have known about otherwise. I see my friend Mike once every year or so, and when we do see each other, he never fails to find music which I will inevitably love. After about 12 months of trying, he FINALLY managed to get me into Taking Back Sunday, and now I cannot stop listening to. Everything must go, Live From Orensanz has taken the Number 1 spot in my “most played” on my Creative Zen in the space of a week and “What’s it feel like to be a Ghost?” is blasting out at an almost intolerable number of decibels from my laptop. My other favourite recommendations which I have not yet downloaded (legally) are Lakes of Canada and Ramona Falls. 

Songs which are very much worthy of a mention:

Menomena: Plumage

Johnny Foreigner– Salt, pepper and Spindarella.

Jordan Klassen– Go to me

Saint Motel– Puzzle Pieces

The Cinematic Orchestra– To build a home

Descent– The Album Leaf

Packing up for final year…

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Packing up for final year…

When you first start university, you’re excited at the prospect of going back every semester to see all your friends, have some privacy from the parents and to rearrange your tiny bedroom/ hovel each time you get back. Now that I’ve done the year abroad and lived in 4 different places over the last 15 months (twice France, twice Germany) I am a little fed up of that “living out of a suitcase” feeling. It gets tiring doing all this packing, then unpacking it all again the next day, the long journeys, waiting around in airports and just in case I don’t mention it enough, the hours spent folding clothes and hanging them up, then knowing you’ll have to do it all over again in 3 months time. Call me a grumpy pessimist all you like, that’s just the way I see it. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my year abroad (because it was actually bloody brilliant), I just really hate packing!

This year, I know it won’t be the last time- in fact, with the jobs I have in mind, I could be doing this for years to come, but I thought I’d rant about it anyway. There are several emotions that you go through whilst packing, which I thought I’d share…

1) Elation- that I will be leaving this rainy Lancashire climate, for what I hope will be a slightly warmer one “down South” in Leicester (My fingers are crossed). The ultimate joy of course is the prospect of seeing all the friends that I haven’t seen for a year, as well as those that I have.

2) Boredom- I absolutely loathe folding clothes and trying to make the place I’m about to leave tidy for when I next come back and so that my mother doesn’t feel the need to come in and spring clean.

3) Nostalgic- It’s only times like this when you come across tokens from the past, big and small of memories such as nights out, old tickets from trips away, ex-boyfriends clothes, family pictures and strangely I found myself having a laugh reading old school reports “Sarah really needs to put more focus into her work if she wishes to succeed”.

4) Stressed- I always leave it really late, then you realise there are still many so many things you want to do before you leave like saying goodbye to friends, then damn, you forgot to send off that really important form which will get you money whilst you’re away, and oh shit, where the fuck are the keys and details of how to get into the new house????

5) A teensy bit guilty- for ranting about boring Lancashire is to Mum. Asking all the time why ever they thought to move to Lancaster of all places in Britain, was there nowhere more exciting/ warmer we could have gone, then leaving her here alone for a few months (we’re all grown ups in our family now, well maybe not me). I make a note to myself that I must remember to  call the parents more often than I currently do, drop them alone and let them know I didn’t drown in a pool of my own vomit outside a club.

Hope you enjoyed my rant. Big loves and peace out!

How to pass time alone in the countryside…

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How to pass time alone in the countryside…

1)Magazines, and LOTS of them: To keep in touch with the rest of the world, see pictures other than the view of your own rainy panorama.Currently having a bit of a “geek-out” on National Geographic. I’ve spent the last few weeks arm with a few magazines, old and new, fantasizing of far-off destinations, on beaches, mountain tops and tangled jungle tree top view platforms and posing myself silly questions such as: “if I had the money, where would be the first place I’d fly off to…” Maybe one day the £100,000 scratch-card will be mine. I live in hope.

2) Internet shopping: Once again, this is not just a pursuit for girlish matters like clothes and things. As I said in my first article, I’m hoping to drop a few dress sizes before I mix up in that business. Since returning from Germany, I’ve spent a fair amount of money on books and awesome picture prints after getting a little bit too happy on the Snapfish website after getting the free student offer from Studentbeans.com. I got a fantastic panoramic photo printed, about the width of my arm span (well it feels like it when I lift it up, as it’s so heavy! It’s the one on my facebook page, only cropped and zoomed to the bits that I like, as well as a smaller one, which I need to re-identify as I forgot the name of it, but both pictures look very impressive. My dad took both pictures on his DSLR camera, as I don’t own one and if it had been done on my little £50 Canon job, it would NOT have turned out well!

3) Walks and bicycle rides in the country: As anyone who knows me well should know, I am not the world’s most physically fit person, in fact, I imagine my physical fitness is lower than average, however I do spent quite a lot of time going around the local country paths, in what I would quite like to think is a windswept Tess of the d’Urbervilles kind of way, but I imagine it’s a bit more like Shrek to  passers-by. I have gotten so familiar with the cycle track between Brookhouse and Morecambe now that if I knew it was empty just for me, I’m sure I could do it with my eyes closed, but I tend to challenge myself by trying to keep up with the Lycra clad road biker types, which kind of makes me laugh, especially when I do keep up with them as they kind of look a bit horrified that this very unfit looking person on a mountain bike has come speeding up behind them. It’s the small things in life.

4) Big pile of books- don’t know whether it’s fortunate or not that my uni reading list seems to be huge this year, but they all take a while as the ones about French Algerians tend to be rather full of colloquial chit chat, which I sometimes just don’t get. I have also just finished the Hunger Games audio book and am about to start on the next one. It’s pretty simple reading though.

5) Digging out things of the past: I had a bit of a rummage in my bookcase the other day and discovered my mum had put a load of school pictures from the days of old on the bottom shelf. I was amused by how dazed/ miserable/ elated (depending on the year) my siblings and I looked over the years. They really are quite funny. I also found a load of old paints/ crayons, stamp sets and other bits of collage kits that we used to use, and attempted to get creative, but in all honestly, my inner artist hasn’t really matured much since the days of being entertained by children’s kits and glitter. Ahh well, glitter and glue will always be fun anyway!