Thursday, 3 March 2016

Half a year in single post....

Well now, I'm not really sure where to begin. Grab a cuppa if you are planning a read. This is going to be a long post.

It's been a really up and down six months and my head has not been into blogging at all. It's been like this since July and I've really struggled to remember why I enjoy blogging. To be honest the thought of even taking and editing pictures, thinking up copy or testing a recipe has made me just want to crawl back into bed and go to sleep. I'd fallen completely out of love with it and could not get up the energy to think of anything to write as nothing felt interesting or inviting.

I think part of that was firstly just tiredness and then the autumn and winter kicked in. Don't get me wrong, I love the warm clothes and cosy nights as much as the next person, but in terms of feeling excited about anything I tend to go into hibernation mode and only really start to emerge again when I start to sniff out spring.

I also had personal stuff going on that meant that actually, I had bigger priorities than a blog to worry about.

Now though, whilst I'm not completely there yet, I'm going to try and get back into it again. I was looking back through old posts over the weekend and remembering good times with friends and I realised that I would be quite sad if I didn't have that in the future. This blog was always supposed to be an online diary, somewhere to reflect and look back on, so let's try again.

With that, here is a summary of all the things that I meant to write about and didn't and that now it seems silly to go back to with a bunch of individual posts. I don't really want to lose those memories though, so I'm just going to throw them all in the mix here!

So in the words of Julie Andrews. Let's start at the very beginning.

Late July, and I made a paella dish that I was really proud of, and don't have the first blue clue now how I made.  Seriously, I wish I could put the recipe here, but I can't for the life of me remember what I did. It did taste good though.

Then there was the trip to see The Tiger Lillies with Sinead for a night of macabre performance and punk esq music. You probably know them from the Cravendale advert.  Brilliant night out, highly recommend if you get the chance to see them! Their music has a dark edge to it which has been described as being influenced by pre-war Berlin.  Cookie cutter pop this is not.

RV presented his tour de force, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged) at the Marlowe Theatre Studio at the end of July.  I absolutely adored this production - I saw it three times and was still howling with laughter the last time I saw it as the cast raced us at breakneck speed through every Shakespeare play, including Hamlet three times.  Once of which was backwards.  I've seen the professional version and this was just as good.  Simply wonderful, joyful theatre with the brightest, gaudiest set I think the Players have ever designed, courtesy of Stephen and Nick. I painted Will's portrait. Look closely and you may be able to spot it.
At the beginning of August we spent a couple of weeks in Kalkan, some of which I have already shown you in previous posts.  In our second week there Steve and I got out and about and went for a drive along the coastal road to see some spectacular views where the cliffs met the ocean.
Just look at the colour of that water!  
Sandy beaches along the Kalkan coast are few and far between, and to compensate many 'beach' restaurants offer diving jetty's straight into the ocean down steep steps or ladders, with the bars on balconies up above.

There is the odd, rather crowded exception!  Just be prepared for a lot of huffing and puffing down the cliffs edge to get there.

Further down the coast though, near the ruins of Patara was another beach, one that was slightly more deserted.  We settled here for a bit after exploring the ruins, but the sand was so hot that actually getting to your lounger was a challenge all on its own! We didn't particularly enjoy it called it a day and headed back to the seclusion and peace of the villa for a swim instead.
The ruins that I wanted to explore though were those of Xanthos.  The history of Xanthos is written in blood and tears as it was conquered time and again through the ages, first by Alexander the Great, then the Persian Empire, then the Romans.  There are stories of the men slaughtering their wives and children rather than leaving them to the enemy and then hurling themselves in a suicidal attack against their would-be conquerors in 540BC.  We wandered the ruins in the late afternoon light, away from the main heat of the day and found the place deserted apart from the goat-herders and their goats and a small handful of other tourists.  I found the place to be incredibly moving and almost spiritual and it was with great reluctance when, faced with the very real possibility of getting stuck up the hill (which was littered with large rocks, thorns and overgrown shrubs) and a swiftly setting sun turning the way back to the car pitch black, I agreed to leave.

We spent Thursday mornings in Turkey in the market, strolling down avenues filled with traders selling everything you could imagine, from leather goods to ceramics, spices to underwear. Fake designer gear was juxtaposed with handmade craft jewellery as far as the eye could see and masses of fresh fruit and veg spilling out of containers inviting us to stock up on for cooking with later.  Late breakfast would be pancakes purchased from the women who sat cross legged on the tables, great pans filled with oil and batter in front of them, utterly impervious to the heat and noise.

When we got back my life got taken over with rehearsals for Arcadia, the play by Tom Stoppard I had been longing to direct for years. It became all consuming and obsessive, with detailed research being undertaken into everything from the costumes to the music to a reference guide for the actors so they understood what they were talking about. I was so pleased with the final result though - cast and crew were on-point and wonderful, and my set took people's breathe away. I loved to listen to the audience as they came into the auditorium before the play began and sat talking about the details in front of them. How clever were Stephen and Nick to build something so beautiful for me!  I'm constantly in awe as to the magic the set designers, constructors, light design and other techy people can weave for an amateur productio.
My absolute favourite moment every night came when the lights switched to night, the music from the garden party started in the distance and the fairy lights began to softly glow in the windows, illuminating the stage in a mix of deep blues and purple shadows.  It nearly broke my heart when we had to dismantle it for get out.
Arcadia will be my last play for a while - I've promised Stephen that we are going to have a year off.  Trouble is, I've got visions in my head for an adaptation of Electra.....

November saw a bunch of us up in ol' London Town for Jo's hen do. We piled into a small room in the middle of Camden Lock on a damp and windy Saturday for a quilting extravaganza, followed by a night out on the tiles.
Everybody got the change to make their own square and the quilt was then professionally finished and returned to Jo as a gift.  My square is top right, with a very obvious blue fox cut out.  I'm hopeless at craft!
I don't actually have many pictures of the night out - which is probably a good thing! 
The next day saw us hungover, tired and in need of food. We ended up in Ozone Coffee Roasters, a place that was far too hipster for us - they saw us coming and promptly made sure we were squirreled away into the basement. Although, thinking about it, this could have been due to the sheer volume of bags that we had. Packing light is an art that continues to evade me.

That coffee is a stereotypical blogger pic if ever I saw one. Total lack of imagination there, forgive me, I was still probably drunk. Coffee wasn't too bad either, if a little bitter. Food was OK, bit overpriced and I hate my bacon that overdone, but that is just personal taste. My main issue was the fact that it was full of people who were very pleased with how alternative and non-mainstream they were though - we all left and burst out laughing at how pretentious the entire place was! Seriously, when somewhere serves you tea in a glass with no handle so you can't pick it up, you realise that aesthetic is more important to them than the practicality of actually enjoying your meal. Poor Jo could only stare in longing as her desperately needed restorative cup of tea got colder and colder as she waited to not burn her fingers on the glass.
December saw the usual Christmas routine (I didn't put a tree up this year - that's how little energy I had after the play!), a shopping trip to Brighton with the girls for a LOT of Irregular Choice shoes (it was ostensibly a trip for Claire to buy her wedding shoes that got a little out of hand), and a horrible bug that I got just before Christmas day that meant the cat spent a lot of time curled on the bed to keep me company as I watched back to back trash TV and overdosed on honey and lemon. 
To cap off the festive period in true style, we had the wedding of Jo and Peter in that weird area between Christmas and New Year when you don't have any idea what day of the week it is. 

I also made an igloo cake as our contribution to the annual ham party.  I was pretty pleased with it! Jo's wedding cake was, however, better. How cute are the two little fox cake toppers (see, I didn't just make a fox for the quilt for the sake of it, there was method in my madness!)
Then came January, when the only time I actually ventured out of the house that wasn't for work was to go and see my sixth form girlies for a catch up lunch back in Bromley!  I don't get to see the ladies that often, so it is always lovely when I do!  Apologies for the picture quality, it's the only one I have of that afternoon!
Stephen and I threw a dinner party to try and counteract the January blues that required us to purchase an oyster shucking knife (middle class horror) and a bouquet of flowers from my favourite florist in Whitstable, Jane at Graham Greener, and I've spent the last few weekends searching for the perfect outfit for RV and Claire's wedding at the end of this month.
I've also read a LOT of books. 17 whilst I was in Kalkan alone.

So that's it - the last few months of my life captured in one very long winded post.

Let's see if it gets me back on blogging schedule.  I'm aiming for a couple a month to start with......

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