Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Oh, Hello April.

Friday, April 8th, 2016

So apparently it is April. I’m not sure how that happened or how I only have 1.5 months left of my Masters degree. Yes, I still have to write that “dissertation” thing but in mid-May all of my classes finish and I hand in my second semester assignments. And that is that. All I have to do is pass those and I can start signing my name on emails as Jessica Davies B.A., M.A. and people will be impressed (not). Of course, in order to pass my assignments, I have to write them and therein lies my current problem.

Spring has been making its way to Manchester in ebbs and flows over the last few months. We had some sunny and surprisingly warm days very early on in the year but they were then replaced by snow. It is now a daily struggle to work out what to wear as it is hot in the sun and freezing in the shade. There are some excellent clouds about at the moment though, bringing rain and hail showers. I much prefer these temperamental conditions to endless drizzle – adds a bit of spice to the Manchester weather forecast.

cloud

You could just eat it!

I am hoping the wind will back off on Sunday, however, as I am once again pushing myself through 41.something kilometres and running the Manchester Marathon. Anyone wanting to follow me from the comfort of an armchair can do so here. I have had a slight set back in terms of a ridiculously sore toe. I usually ignore aches and pains but this particular niggle was excessively painful and a trip to the cheapest physiotherapist that I could find suggests it is runners’ arthritis. Not surprising really, given my family’s medical history. Just slightly annoying as I now haven’t run for 1.5 weeks, the longest period of time that I haven’t run for approximately 6 years. I haven’t gone AS nuts as I thought I would, which is pleasing. But I am very much looking forward to Sunday and have been telling my toe that if it dares to slow me down I will have it surgically removed. Nothing messes with me, not even my own digits.

marathon

Go Jessso!

A couple of weekends ago, I participated in a workshop connected to the Pilcrow Pub project. The Pilcrow Pub is a community pub that is being built by hand by a group of seriously dedicated people. They run workshops where you can come in and make a stool, clothes hook, ceramic jug or something else that will be used in the final pub. I went to the “wooden workbench” workshop that involved us turning pieces of wood that had been reclaimed from a giant Christmas tree installation into a workbench that would then be used to make other things for the pub. It was so much fun! It required a huge amount of brain space to work out how to make very non-straight pieces of wood come together to create a stable table. Plus it was all done by hand so it was hand saws and chisels in action. It was team building central and by the end of the day, my group, ‘Team Leg,’ were high-fiving and patting each others backs with pride. Amazing work. I am hopefully doing a second workshop in a couple of weeks’ time – basket weaving!

workbench

We made that!

Speaking of basket weaving, I helped my friend Jon (aka Garden Man (apparently calling a man a boy is a negative thing so I am upgrading him)) run a weaving workshop at the Whitworth art gallery. I forced Jon to let me help him so that I can write an essay on it for my Creative Learning unit at uni. It was such fun working with families to weave giant balls of willow and it once again reinforced my desire to work in engagement programmes in art galleries. It is very reassuring that I continue to have this passion and excitement for galleries and museums and that I’m not completely sick of them. Maybe I really have picked the right degree!

willow

A ball o’ willow

And one final piece of news before I go and do some real work – I finally installed my pop-up exhibition in the glass case in the Samuel Alexander building at uni. I was given the project in December last year and it took me until March to install… oops. I like to say it was because I was developing my ideas but it was mostly because 1. I had essays to write, 2. the building was locked on weekends, 3. I am my father’s daughter. Anyway, it is an exhibition showcasing people’s Instagram images of Manchester. I am going to change the photographs over the next few weeks so that there are new images to look at. It didn’t turn out quite as I expected but it still looks surprisingly good considering. I am quite pleased.

#ISeeYouManchester

#ISeeYouManchester

Ok, really should go and write an essay now. Peace out, kids.

Wednesday Write-In #81: Spring Fever

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

This is my second attempt at Cake.ShortandSweet Wednesday Write-In. This week’s words were: drawn; sitting comfortably; sag; hiss; Ship-shape. I was instantly drawn to the word ‘hiss’ for reasons you will soon discover if you choose to read on.

Spring Fever (Or When Geese Attack)

Even the most pessimistic Mancunians can’t deny the approach of spring in the city. “It has been the wettest winter on record,” they complain. “Last summer was the best we’ve had in years. That won’t happen again.”

Perhaps it is thanks to the endless winter drizzle and the increasing hours of sunshine that is exciting the daffodils, plum trees and cherry blossom. Crocus flowers are being drawn up from their muddy winter hideaways to add splatterings of lilac to dormant parks and roadside garden beds. Those browny-green twigs you have ignored during the winter months are suddenly bursting into joyful colour – electric green leaf shoots and look-at-me flowers. Nature is coming to life again and it wants to show off.

The birds are back in town, too. Petit sparrows, wagtails and tits dart about claiming territories and socialising. The larger breeds fly in with their heads in the air, cruising down the ship canal and sitting comfortably like bored teenagers by the water’s edge. With each movement they call to their friends – “I’m going over here now.” “Hey guys, I’m bored.” “Sweet, that kid’s got bread!”

Everyone is feeling good about the change of seasons and the approaching warmer weather. However, while sunshine and pretty flowers are good for the soul and breaking the communal SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), no one thinks about what the arrival of peak spring really means.

Canada Geese. One of the most temperamental creatures in existence, I once saw them described as ‘friendly’ in an Illustrated Guide to Birds (the cutesie drawing of the goose even had it smiling.). Dear Author, clearly you have never encountered these malicious fiends in the middle of their mating season. It is obvious you have never had to walk along narrow canal-side pathways with water on one side and a Canadian Goose on the other. They see you coming with nowhere to escape. They move into action, positioning themselves directly in your desired pathway, calling to their friends to come and join in the fun. You reduce speed to a slow but steady pace, not wanting to appear threatening but hoping your larger body mass and intellectual superiority will encourage them to leave you alone.

No chance. Get within a foot of these beasts and they’re off – craning their necks like pissed-off cobras, puffing out their wings and stamping about in circles. You’re in their zone and they’re letting you know. But the worst part is still to come – now they are beginning to hiss. Opening up those supposedly smiling beaks into a ferocious snarl, the sound of a thousand poisonous snakes hits your ears and you know it is on. They attack, stabbing and jabbing and aiming for your knees with their knife-blade mandibles. Don’t put out your hand to stop them or they snap your fingers off. Just run. Your only option to escape this death trap is to get up on your tip-toes, flail your arms in the air and squeal like a small child, running as far and as quickly as possible. Do not look back. Do not make eye contact. Just get the hell out.

And when you can finally stop and catch your breath, your heart pumping with the adrenaline of primal fear, you will be hit with the realisation that someone may have seen that. It is guaranteed that someone probably did and you may feel ashamed about appearing inferior to a goose. But sleep easy knowing that one day that person laughing at your misfortune will experience this torture themselves and will scream an even girly-er scream than you.

Spring has sprung, my friends. The geese are coming.

Getting My Legs Out

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Something truly astonishing has happened today. After approximately seven months hidden in the dark cave of jeans and trousers (I live in England now so I am practising not saying ‘pants’), my legs have escaped and are being exposed to UV light. The forecast for today is 19 degrees and sunny, which is the British equivalent of mid-summer in Australia. While 19 degrees would normally have me in multiple layers and complaining about how freezing it is, my internal thermometer appears to have shifted since moving to Europe and I am currently thinking, “Gosh, it’s warm.” I am joining the inevitable onslaught of pale and pudgy English flesh that will be reflecting the sun’s rays in parks, terraced pubs and any sunny public space. Normally I would be shy of my ridiculously pale legs, but here I blend in nicely. Although I am contemplating joining the Orange folk with their splodgy boot-polish brown spray tans. Then all I need to do is draw on some fake eyebrows, peroxide my hair and wear some leopard-print lycra and I’ll look like a local.

It is 10.30am on a Bank Holiday and the city is currently dead as everyone recovers from their MAD Sunday night out on the town. As my Sunday night involved abstinence from alcohol, a chicken and roast vegetable salad, and the final of Master Chef, I was up for my usual morning run at 7.15am. Running on public holidays is the most enjoyable experience as NO ONE else is around. Today was particularly glorious as the sun was shining, there was no wind, the air was slightly crisp and the trees are currently in bloom with pink and white blossom. All I needed was for a deer to run along side me and I could have been Mary Poppins. But as I returned to the city and ran along the main drag of Deansgate, I ran past a series of pubs that had smashed glass and beer stains all over the pavement. The stench from stale beer was overwhelming and forced me to run faster in order to get away from it. I don’t think Mary Poppins had to deal with that.

Today I am planning a walk along the Manchester Canal to the Lowry centre where there is a food festival on. I am mostly going in order to complete one of my 108 challenges – to get as close to Paul Hollywood (a celebrity baker/chef with “piercing blue eyes”) as possible. He will be there signing books and as long as I don’t have to buy a book, I will attempt to get a photo with him. Right – time to go and work on my tan.

B-O-N-J-O-U-R

Friday, May 11th, 2012

What a wonderful day to be in Paris! The last month has been rain, rain, rain and grey, grey, grey, and then out of the blue came the sunshine. It reached an impressive maximum of 28.7 degrees today, a miracle considering the recent averages temperatures have been hovering around 16 degrees. The only downside was the strong wind that blew pollen and seeds into eyes and down throats – not so much fun when I went for a bike ride in the afternoon and finished with tears streaming down my face as my eyes tried to get rid of evil horse chestnut blossom.

I spent the day with the windows to my apartment wide open, letting in the warming temperatures and the exciting feeling of the approaching summer. It was a good day – I hung a blackboard in my kitchen to act as a creative outlet/shopping list and framed the best version of my lino stencil. I still want to do more prints of that stencil, I just need to go and buy more equipment first.

My main project for the day was to finish off a large piece that I started last week. I have been busy with visitors and being social (it’s a hard life) and so my half-finished project has been sitting on my desk staring at me. Today I had time to get out my sewing machine and work like crazy. Et voilà!

Bonjour material letters

It's almost as if Macgyver is speaking French.

The next step is to iron the letters flat and then attach them to a long string to hang them in my apartment. The other option is to frame them all separately and scatter them throughout the room. But string is cheaper.

Tulips

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

The skies of Paris may be grey, but the tulips are holding strong.

Tulips

Pretty, pretty tulips.

That’s Dutch blood for you.

What a Champion!

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Sunday finally saw the arrival of the Paris Marathon – something my friend and running buddy, Becky had been wanting to get over and done with. I was also looking forward to the completion of it as it would mean less 30km runs on weekends.

The conditions for running 42km were less than perfect – a cold, overcast day with lots and lots of wind. Signs of spring were certainly about as pollen from the horse chestnut trees was flying through the air and getting up my nose and in my eyes. Not fun. Probably even less fun for the 40,000 runners who were killing themselves on the epic route through Paris.

I had planned on catching Becky as she passed through the Bastille but I mistimed my arrival and she had already sped past me. So, Tom and I caught the metro to the finish line where runners were already arriving having completed their race. Amazing! Becky had started further back in the pack and was therefore at a disadvantage and therefore still running. Definitely nothing to do with her abilities, speed or running finesse. Tom and I found ourselves a position with a good view of the approaching runners and waited…

Interesting fact: if you stare at a large number of runners approaching you, trying to spot a single tall, blonde female wearing a purple top, you will go cross eyed.

Just after the five-hour mark, there she was. And so we screamed! BBEEEEEECCCCKKKKYYYYY!!!!!!! GOOOOO BBEEEECCCKKKYYYYY!!!!

Paris marathon

I was too busy cheering to get a clear photo.

I don’t think I have yelled that loudly since my year 7 athletics carnival. She may not have come first, but Becky is a winner in my eyes. An absolutely amazing feat – I send my congratulations to everyone who ran in that race. It was insanely long and no human is really designed to run that far.

Another interesting fact: while waiting for Becky to arrive, we watched the security guards pull illegal runners out of the pack – people who had some how joined the race without paying to be in it. Most of them looked like they had only just joined as they weren’t red-faced like the REAL competitors. Clearly they just wanted the fame and glory of crossing the finishing line, and perhaps a free piece of fruit. I think these people should be FORCED to run the entire marathon as punishment because clearly they’re not good enough to enter it for real. That’ll teach ’em.

Spring Time in Paris

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

As I write this I am sitting next to my window, facing out into the park behind my apartment. I am sitting on my dining/work/extra-space table as it is the only thing in my apartment that puts me at a high enough level to look through the window properly. Today is too beautiful to not appreciate in its full extent.

It is Sunday afternoon and the first official day of Summer Time. Paris is alive. The park is full of families having picnics, children playing on the swings, old people sitting on benches watching others go by. There are also the occasional drug dealer and homeless person but everyone blends together.

Last night Europe moved its clocks forward an hour and there appears to have been an instant effect – people are wearing shorts and tshirts, the new leaves on the trees have burst out of their buds, and everyone is smiling. It is definitely contagious – the only thing keeping me inside is the banana bread that I just took out of the oven. After a slice of cake and a cup of tea, the Parisian sunshine and I are going to get acquainted.

Magnolia

The magnolia (I think that is what we decided it was last year) is back in bloom

Sunny Weekend in Paris

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Ahh sunshine… I think I have prattled on about the wonders of the sun a fair bit, but it is amazing how much sunshine affects the general feeling of Paris. Everyone comes out of their grey coats and lies half naked in parks soaking up the rays. People drink beer, play guitars, and sit around chatting with friends, making the most of the weather. In Australia I think we take our weather for granted and know that tomorrow we’ll probably have a fine day once again. Whereas here you make the most of what you have because it may not happen again for awhile.

The days are getting much longer and the change into summer time really spurred the long evenings along. The sun sets around 8.45pm so we have been finding ourselves eating dinner very late and staying up until past midnight most nights. Considering I used to be a 6pm-dinner and 10pm-sleep person, this is just strange. I have had a few stomach aches in the last few nights thanks to going to bed with a very full tummy, but it is an enjoyable lifestyle. On Saturday night, Tom and I had a picnic with our friends Rom and Coup down by the canal Saint Martin. The canal edges were full of Parisians doing exactly the same thing and it was one of the most enjoyable things we have done while in Paris. But imagine doing this in Perth – at 8pm we went to the supermarket and bought two types of cheese, vegies, chips, dips, beer and wine; went to the bakery and bought two fresh baguettes and by 8.30pm we were sitting by the canal setting out our picnic. It wouldn’t have been possible to do that at that hour in Perth and if we’d bought all of that food during opening hours it would have cost us around $100. Here we bought all of that for less than 30 Euros. Oh, I love Paris.

Friday night we went and saw the Australian band Architecture in Helsinki at a new venue just down the road from me. It was such a great night – the venue was amazing. It is a new, contemporary art gallery/performance space that has been inserted into a beautiful ye-olde building. The performance space was a big box in the middle of what could have once been a ballroom. The bar was in another room which had frescoes with gold trim on the ceiling and red velvet puff seats scattered throughout the room. The band was great and once again I was amazed at how few people we had to watch them with. Despite being in such a densely populated city, most of the music gigs that we have been to haven’t been sold out and have been in relatively small venues with a moderately sized crowd. Perhaps I’m going to un-cool music but still. It’s great!!

Anyway I have to go to my French class. It has improved slightly as I have learnt some new verb tenses that I wasn’t sure about before (when I say “I have learnt”, I mean I have been given the idea to go home and look up what they are myself) and the teacher is cracking down on slack students. Hopefully it’ll continue to improve and I will actually get something out of this experience.

Lost in Paris

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Another day wandering aimlessly through Paris – I got slightly lost today (on purpose) and stumbled upon areas that I didn’t know existed. I felt an extreme sense of “I have no idea where I am” and loved it. I found lots of cool cafes and a whole new section of shops to explore with my fellow female travellers at a later date.

Highlights include finding the Movida cook book (a spanish tapas cookbook written by the people who run the restaurant Movida in Melbourne) for the low, low, low price of 5 Euros. It’s a soft cover and has a different image on the front but it is the SAME BOOK. I was stoked. Also, walking through random back streets of Paris in the sunshine wearing just a dress and stockings. No jumpers or jackets required. Most other people on the streets were rugged up for some reason… Couldn’t they see the sunshine?

Lowlights include the intense heating system used in Galleries Lafayette – every time I go into that shop I want to leave immediately due to heat exhaustion. Also, the pathetic scoop of Belgian Chocolate ice cream from Häagen Dazs. I knew it was a bad decision as soon as I walked in there but I was craving ice cream so much and couldn’t find anywhere else. At least the small size means it was a ‘diet ice cream’ and I can eat something else delicious as well!

I had a lovely day today – I went for a seven kilometre run this morning along the canal and to Parc Buttes de Chaumont where I had the lookout and a view towards Sacre Coeur all to myself. Sure, on my way home I may have been somewhat stalked by a Tunisian man who decided we should run together but who just slowed me down, but let’s just forget that.

The sun has been shining all day despite original forecasts for it to be overcast and the park outside my window is blossoming, blooming and bursting with new leaves and flowers. So pretty. The only problem with leaf growth is that our view becomes less and less, but who wouldn’t want to stare at that amazing vibrant, granny-smith green all day?

Park

Look at all the colours!

Magnolias

Look at the flowers! So, who can tell me what these are?

Now I am home after spending the last four hours walking around the city, my back is sore from carrying my bag and my feet are going numb. But Tom just called to ask me what delicious treat I want from the boulangerie for dessert and I am about to whip up something amazing in the kitch (by that I mean I am making up a recipe and am extremely worried about whether or not it will work). Now that’s the good life in Paris.

Summer Already?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Where has winter gone? I blame Canada. A few weeks ago I finally received my Elroy coat in the mail – it only took 2 months and 6 days to arrive from Vancouver. I still wonder where exactly it went… It could make a great book! But my point is as soon as my thick, warm, woolie jacket arrived on my doorstep the weather changed. The sun came out, the birds started singing and the flowers bloomed. Spring arrived and I haven’t been able to wear my jacket. THAT’S NOT FAIR.

On the other hand, spring is here! I love this season; particularly the smells. On the weekend, the scent of freshly hand-watered garden hit my nostrils. On my regular bike rides and walks through Kings Park I am filled with wafts of freesias and new growth. It is only mid-September and already I am contemplating shorts. Not so good for the farmers who need some rain, but I’m quite happy enjoying the sunshine. On the weekend I walked past a house in Fremantle that had a lawn of flowers. Sure, they’re evil weeds, but who wouldn’t want to roll in this?

Spring flowers

Hay fever, anyone?