Today I’m home alone. Bodra is in Fulham with Paul watching a football game. It’s a superb day for it, very sunny. I have been watching from our lounge window the many people walking by in summer attire- there is a canoe race happening across the road. Definitely a welcome change as just last week I saw people going to work in their long thick coats, and I didn’t believe for a minute we would get a taste of Summer this year. I should be out in it, but I’m still down with the flu, and I can see loads of pollen floating in the air too. So this is the perfect opportunity to catch up on our activities!
I recently turned 30 and to celebrate the occasion I met with a group of friends in London- Dawn, Kim, Ez, Nik, Ross, Jono, Cat, Alanna, Russell, Dewi, Waty, Cam, Rueben, Ela, Steph- to partake in the Jack the Ripper Tour from Tower Hill, led by Donald Rumbelow. I was still recovering from the flu which we’d picked up along our travels in Egypt, so I missed out on some of the commentary due to being at the back of the crowd, attempting to contain my bugs. But from what I picked up, the Ripper was a very violent killer with the throat-cutting and body mutilation. I never really contemplated the meaning of his name, as I’ve always heard it in that sequence and accepted it. However, Donald went into quite graphic detail with what he did to his victims and I was appalled at how blood-thirsty his actions were. He was very crafty as he knew to commit his crimes in ill-lit areas. He even managed to murder one of his victims in a square where every few minutes a policeman was doing the beat, and all his victims were prostitutes. I was surprised to hear they never caught the Ripper, but hopefully that’s because he died falling into the Thames one night, or contracting syphilis.
After the tour we had an interesting dinner at the Lahore Kebab House. It was a crazy atmosphere, basically a hall with dozens of long tables and chairs, a couple of screens showing cricket and BYOB. Most of the restaurant was filled with men and they were all getting their Friday drink on. We had a few issues getting the food ordered but in the end everyone seemed pleased with their super spicy meals and enjoyed the boisterous energy coming from all the super drunk men.
We were meant to go to the Callooh Callay Bar for a delicious cocktail afterwards, but it had become quite late and Bo and I still needed to make our way back to Reading. So hopefully one day in the near future I will be able to do that.
On Easter Sunday, Dewi and her siblings- Waty and Martin- took us to Monkey World in Dorset as a surprise birthday treat. Monkey World is a 65 acre park set up in 1987 by Jim Cronin for providing a home for rescued primates. They have over 160 apes and monkeys- Gibbons (Siamang, Golden-Cheeked, Mueller’s, Agile and Lar Gibbons), Chimpanzees, Bornean Orang-utans, Capuchins (rescued from a laboratory in Chile), Lemurs, Woolly Monkeys (part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme), Marmosets, Squirrel Monkeys (rescued from a Dutch laboratory) and Stump-tailed Macaques (rescued from a British laboratory where they were used for Asthma research). We had a wonderful time watching the primates play, but definitely felt saddened at seeing some of the unusual behaviour being displayed, due to the trauma that some of the primates had suffered before they came to the park. Monkey World pics and vids.
When Bodra returned we went for a lovely 8 Mile walk from Aldermaston to Mortimer. It was a real animal fest as we saw cats, dogs, donkeys, horses, and a deer, super friendly sheep & goats, cows, birds and lambs. Bodra almost got a kiss from a sheep; we were so surprised at how tame the animals were! Perhaps it is a Spring thing. We also found a 300 year old Yew tree outside Padworth Church which was a very special experience. Pics and vids.
I took a big step the next week as I signed up to do some supply teaching with Select Education. The week afterwards I had my first day of teaching at St Martin’s Primary School where I was with year 3 & 4 students. It was a really stressful experience, not so much the actual teaching, but just all the mental processing beforehand and during. I’ve realised now that I’m not prepared to put myself in that space any longer. So for now I’m just a trophy wife, staying at home until we get back from our June/July adventures. Hopefully afterwards I’ll be able to find some work until we head back home in November. I’m quite worried about what I will do for a career when I get home, but there is a lot of time in between now and then so fingers-crossed that I’ll attract some answers to that one!
David O’Leary has returned to the UK so we met him and Paul and Rachael at a vegetarian restaurant in Camden called the Green Note. It was really good catching up with all of them, and David has started working in Frome, Somerset just out of Bath so I will be able to visit him one day soon. (We tried visiting him today but the train tickets were £70 for the both of us, so we figure it’d be better to hire a car.)
That night Bo & I went to a party at Scala with Kim, Ez, Russ and Alanna, where Protoculture and Rinkadink were playing. We managed to get in for free, as we had previously attempted to attend a party at the same venue, but due to a poorly managed door check we had been kept waiting outside the club for over an hour, thus we missed the performances that we had intended on seeing. It was November so the temperature was freezing, and as the queue had only moved about five metres we decided to forgo the party and send in written complaints. This evenings party was much different as the attendance wasn’t as high- Bodra and I got in without queuing at all. There was heaps of space to dance, the only thing was as the night progressed and people’s buzzes began to wear off, I noticed the conviviality wane and more and more people began to bump into me without even an apologetic glance. I had heaps of energy for dancing and kept on my feet for most of night, but as soon as Protoculture began his set (around 5am) all my energy was zapped. We had really enjoyed Rinkadinks set so we chose to leave before we had no energy to get home.
The next day we spent some well-deserved relax time in Paul and Rachael’s backyard. It was a mostly sunny day, so I rested in Paul’s chair-hammock, reading and dozing in the sun. Back home at the end of the month, Danijel & Inas welcomed their daughter, Violetta, into the world.
The beginning of May gifted a Bank weekend, so Bodra, Ezra, Kim and I went to the Isle of Wight for one night. Saturday found us in Primrose field in Whippingham with three others- Chuck, Gemma and Paul. Paul was our guide from the Good Leaf Tree Climbing Company, previously an arborist who had decided to share his passion for climbing trees. Within the field were a few large trees and one of the Oak trees had six ropes dangling from it. Paul taught us the techniques for pulling ourselves up the tree and soon we were all away, scaling the tree and perching on branches while taking in the view. It was quite a simple skill and we all got it immediately. After the climbing we were rewarded with homemade flapjacks and a cup of tea.
In the afternoon we found ourselves at an Ale Festival on the grounds of a Rail museum. None of us were particularly impressed with our Ales (I tipped mine out part way through) so we’re mostly sworn off Ale now. After that we journeyed into Ryde to find our accommodation at the Kasbah. This was a pub with rooms above. As we were on a budget we had booked the family room which was directly above the main drinking area. There was a private party going on that evening so we resolved to get ourselves more than tiddly to enable an ignorant sleep. We downed a shot of Gold Schlager (very delicious) then went for an amble around Ryde, out to the Pier and then to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and jugs of cocktails.
We spent the majority of Sunday driving around the Isle of White, as hundreds of others did using all manners of transport. There seemed to be some kind of cycling convention that weekend as we shared the roads with dozens of people on a variety of recumbent and modified trikes, as well as hundreds on the usual bicycles. We took in the Garlic Farm- where Bodra and Ezra tasted the super fiery Dragons Blood sauce, the Isle of Wight Studio Glass- where I fell in love with a vase from the Undercliff Collection that was outrageously expensive, the Wisteria laden cottage (aptly named Wisteria Cottage), Compton Bay- where we stopped for ice-cream and a wander along the coast, and finally Alum Bay to see the famed Needles. My Mum turned 60 on the Sunday so I enjoyed photographing the Wisteria as a way of connecting in with her energy on her special day.
The next week I had some unsettling news. Luke Deveraux, one of my old friends from the days I had spent in Christchurch, had taken his life. I hadn’t been in contact with him for quite some time; friendships often become quite strained when there is distance. I had tried to reach him when we first got to the UK but the email address I had for him was no longer valid. It just makes me angry with myself, like I should’ve tried harder to reach him, I knew he was struggling. But a person is always free to make this decision; obviously it is the right one for them when confronted with a space they cannot cope with. A friend, David Colyer, is organising a garden in his memory, so I look forward to visiting it and sharing some peace there.
We were back in London the following weekend. We saw Baka Beyond perform on the Friday night, and then on Saturday we watched Star Trek with Paul at the Wimbledon Odeon Cinema. I had a little girly time with Rachael wandering around the shops, while Bodra and Paul went looking at shirts for their upcoming wedding in February. Rachael showed me one of the dresses she had in mind so I was very privileged to see her in that! Then we met the boys back at Paul & Rachael’s place and spent the afternoon and evening playing Guitar Hero World Tour.
Bodra started coming down with flu symptoms the next week so he had four days off from work. He had to endure my infatuation with “The L Word” (which was encouraged by Lauren) series, but luckily I have finished that now. Bodra has decided to take on a new diet in order to address his skin and energy issues. This involves omitting processed food, fungi, mould, yeast, sugar, dairy, gluten, wheat, additives and any food containing these substances. It’s a very challenging diet, especially as it rules out fruit and mushrooms. I’m kind of doing the diet with Bodra, but first someone has to eat all the foods in our pantry which are not safe to eat… I polished off a bag of ‘crisps’ today for lunch- heehee! It will be an adventure as I’m sure we will discover new foods- for example these tortilla chips by R.W. Garcia which are made from veges- spinach and garlic, red beetroot and onion, tomato and sesame. Anyway, Bodra intends to keep the diet up until we go on our trip to Canada- he had a bit of a crash on Friday but hopefully he will adjust soon.
Yesterday we went for a wander around Kew Gardens. We started off in the Princess of Wales Conservatory where we took in the Cacti, Orchids, Ferns, Carnivorous Plants and the Titan Arum. Then we walked through the Rose Pergola (we’ve decided we would like a rose pergola to go down the length of our driveway) towards the Bonsai House. We found a gazebo wrapped in Wisteria next to a Ginkgo tree. Then we took the Princess Walk over to the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway. It was a perfect afternoon for the gardens and I hope we can go there again one day.
Last night we saw Deva Premal, Miten and Manrose perform at the Union Chapel in Islington. There were loads of New Age types there, wearing their serene garments, bedecked with crystals and mandala symbols. Bodra and I seated ourselves in the centre of the back row. They performed mantras and Miten’s songs and we were encouraged to sing along. I quite enjoyed the concert although I would’ve preferred just to hear the mantras as the songs were a bit cheesy. Deva taught us a mantra for compassion and the Goddess Tara which I really enjoyed. Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha.
This week I will be journeying to Ludlow, Stockport and the Peak District with Dewi. I’ll be seeing an old school friend, Jenny Chandler, in Church Stretton too, and Dewi’s friend, Dan O’Neill, will be joining us for some tramping. Then the following weekend we will be going to New Forest for a celebratory cycle for Kim’s 30th. Lauren will be joining us for a few days in the second week of June and Bodra will be going to Amsterdam for work. Then on the 14th of June we will be making our way to Calgary. It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has passed, before we know it we will be homeward bound!