Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A weekend in York with my mum!

Wow, November has been a bit hectic. All good, but pretty non-stop. I'll try and catch up with events of this month, but to kick things off, here's the story of a weekend in York with my mum from the beginning of the month.

For my birthday present (which was in October) my mum arrange a weekend away for us. We hadn't been away since our trip to Palma, and it's always so much fun hanging out with my mum.

She had it all organised and booked us into a little B&B about 10 minutes walk from the city centre. She also bought a 2 day Yorkshire Pass. You use it to get into all the attractions and it works out great value for money. We did a quick calculation and reckon we saved about £80 between us by using the pass rather than paying to go into each attraction individually.

I was SO impressed with York! I hadn't a clue what to expect really. Normally I try and do a bit of research before I visit a new place, but hadn't got the chance this time. But that made everything even more of a surprise when I got there!

So what did we get up to?!


York Dungeons

Get your scares here! A fab hour long terrifying experience with chilling tales of York and you'll meet plenty of interesting characters along the way.

 The Viking Museum

York was the Viking capital of the world once. I think. History isn't my strong point, but viking definitely lived in York at some point and this museum can prove it! There's lots of old viking relics here (pots and jewellry and swords etc) but the bit I enjoyed the most was travelling back in time and journeying through a viking village and seeing how they used to live. They even re-created the smell of the vikings!

Betty's Tea Room

Step back to the 1930's at Betty's Tea Room. It's divine there! And very, very busy. We went late on a Sunday afternoon and just managed to get a table. When we walked passed it at other times, people were queuing around the block to get in. I'm not sure if you can book ahead, but I would definitely recommend doing so. It's well worth the visit.

My mum took the opportunity to read her own tea leaves.  (I'm sure she made half of it up!)

York Minster

I'm not really into old churches (or even new ones), but this is impressive just by it's stature alone. It was built between 1220 and 1470, in fact there's building work going on there now. There's actually a lot to see and do when you are inside including a guided tour, plus some vaults downstairs too. And my mum told me that this is where my step Dad proposed to her! So on that fact alone, it make the Minster special to me :)

Haunted House

I love a good ghost story and couldn't wait to visit the Haunted House on Stonegate. You go into it through a magic shop. We went early in the day and had the place to ourselves. The building is 700 years old and an audio story guides you from room to room (9 altogether), and up and down crooked wooden stair cases whilst telling you the stories of the house's past and it's sad tales of it's former residents. It's very atmospheric which is heightened when you are plunged into darkness at times too!

Clifford's Tower

We marched right up to the top of the hill. Then marched back down again. It was closed. It's only open for 2 days a week (weekends I think). Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, it's got quite the horrible history.

York Castle Museum

We visited the museum over two days! There's so much to see. I really liked the recreated Victorian Street and the prison. They also had a street dedicated to the 60's. My mum loved it and she told me lots of stories about her memories of that era. A great place to spend an afternoon.

I was quite taken with this little coin operated machine.

Grand Opera House

We had an even free so booked some last minute tickets to see a show here. We were quite in luck I think, as Fascinating Adia were performing! I remember them from years ago, but didn't know they were still on the go. They've been on the go for 27 years in fact. It was a great night and their song wickedly funny. Here's one of my favs from the evening...

I'm sure I've left something out.

Oh yes! A ghost walk. There's quite a few to chose from in the city. There's the ghost walk, the ghost trail, the original ghost walk, the ghost hunt... take your pick!

And I managed to fit in a hair cut...

And FINALLY I got some new boots! I've been searching high and low for new boots since last winter.

I must have tried on nearly 100 pairs in the last year. There are so many essentials needed for the right boot.

They must be leather, they must be knee high, they must have a little (but not too little) heel, they must have good souls (for gripping on icy streets), they must fit snugly on my calves, they must fit snugly around my ankle, they must be black....

I found them. And I loved them. And then after all that, I nearly didn't buy them as the sales girl was so moody! :D

If you would like the condensed version of the York trip, you I've also handily Storify'd it for you!

A big THANK YOU to my Mum for the best weekend away! Love you lots. You are the best!

Say hello on twitter! @karenstrunks

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A trip down memory lane

Yesterday was Operation Garage - almost a full day of sorting out all the boxes in my garage so I can make room for my car in the winter.

Luckily my Mum came over to give me a hand.

When I moved into my tiny flat about 7 years ago I left a large 2 bed house that was packed to the hilt with 'stuff''. I gave away practically everything I owned bar some essentials and some items that had sentimental value.

I wanted to downsize my life and my mortgage payments, and planned to get a local job and work part time. It kinda all worked out. I found a job for 4 days a week and I was able to walk to/from work! Obviously I've since moved on from that job, but I had a design for my life in mind, and that worked out and included living in a more vibrate and creative area, Moseley.

Anyway! Back to the garage.

The first item to leave was my guitar which I inherited from an ex boyfriend who was a musician. It's too cold and damp in the garage and so it went to my Mum''s house. I only ever made a half hearted attempt to play it and the first song (and only!) I learnt was Robin Trower's Bridge Of Sighs - a very basic version I hasten to add!


Before the guitar was whisked away, a man strolled past, said hello and picked up the guitar. "Are you selling this?" I wasn't thinking of selling it. He tuned it and started to play a tune on it that he wrote. I took an Audioboo. I'm kinda glad that the guitar had been put to use in some small way before it went back into storage.

Stranger playing my guitar (mp3)

So many leaves had blown under the garage door. Mum is very handy with a broom. Go mum! ;)

Ahh Little Ted! I think I can pretty much say he is my favourite teddy bear of all time!

This is a school art project when I was about 12. It was themed around farms or the countryside. Mum has taken it home. I hope she puts in on her living room wall. It's a thing of beauty and deserves to be displayed! :D

I kept some of my old school books. This one is from when I was 4.5 years old (it said so on the cover of the book).

This was fairly creative: "I am going to the shop with my mum and me and my dad and my sister". I haven't got a sister.

Thumbing through the book, this was a story to be told time and time again. Me and my mum going to the shop. Or, my mum going to the shop and buying me sweets. Sweets! It was all about sweets!

My first album! Doris Day - 20 Golden Greats. Stop laughing! Doris is ace! I think I had good taste as a 7 year old. I remember my Dad taking me into a record shop in London.

I played that record over and over. I remember particularly loving Que Sera Sera.

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother what will I be
Will I be pretty will I be rich
Here's what she said to me...

Flat Cat!!! I love Flat Cat! Another childhood favourite.

I'd almost forgotten I had kept some of my Ladybird books. The Three Billy Goats Gruff scared me! Sadly I couldn't find the one I read the most: Cinderella.

This is a more recent 'treasure'. A Michael Jackson alarm clock which was presented to be by Talk About Local (before I starting working there) for the best use of photos in a blog at their unconference in '09. Lovely! It's a keeper.

I found Big Ted! When I was about 5 I remember that Big Ted and Little Ted were best friends. My mum would collect me from school and on the walk home she would tell me of all the adventure that my teddy's and other toys had during the day. I loved those stories.

My first comic subscription. Play Hour. The newsagent would keep a copy aside for me and once a week (I think it was weekly) me and my Dad would go and collect it.

Age 12. I think. My drawing skills have improved. A tiny bit. A rooster wearing clothes. I'm not sure why.

By the end of the day we had cleared out a lot. A pile for the tip and a pile for charity shops.

I think my mum would have liked me to have been a bit more ruthless than I was when it came to deciding what to keep and what to throw away.

Admittedly a few items had been ruined by the years and the damp in the garage, but I just couldn't part with them. Some things had got broken (they went to the tip). I found tons of old photos (prints, before the digital age). Love letters. Cards. Ornaments. Shoes! Lots of shoes! (I did part with some).

Looking back at what I found I was surprised at how much I remembered, even from a young age. The items triggered the memories. Pretty much all of them good.

And of course it prompted me to think about where I had been, the different stages of growing up, and where I am now, and where I want to be.

I was a bit tired after all the manual labour, so when I got back home I took a lovely bath (it was very dusty in the garage) and put on my pj's and chilled out for the rest of the day. I appreciated living on my own and having my own space. I love being single and having time and space to do my own thing. I love what I do for work. I'm glad I haven't got children and feel I've retained my freedom. It's all good.

But...! There's still plenty more time to make more memories and have more adventures! I never want to become complacent in my life and work. I don't want to get too settled or waste time. I want to be able to look back and know I've tried things, scared myself sometimes, taken risks but enjoyed every minute.

In the last few weeks I feel like I've been slowing down somewhat, and of being aware that this year is coming to an end. It may be because the days are shorter, and it's just a seasonal thing. Or maybe that it's because my diary is fairly full until the New Year and I don't want to take anything else on and I also want to leave myself some breathing space.

I know I want to leave some space for my 4 day Fierce Earth Course that is coming up soon! I'm really looking forward to it and hoping to get a lot of it in a business and personal capacity. I've got a feeling some of my plans will change after that course and I definitely want to leave room in my diary to implement those changes. I also think the course will challenge me, and also inspire me. I think it's just what I need at this point.

Next weekend I shall be spending a few days in York with my mum. It's her birthday treat to me and she has a full schedule planned! Apart from spending some quality time with my mum it will be good to have a change of scene too.

Looking a little further ahead, I can't wait for 2012! I get so excited about a New Year. On New Year's eve itself I love staying in, on my own, and savouring the second that the old year goes and a new one arrives. A brand new year to fill! That's pretty exciting.

Say hello on twitter! @karenstrunks

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Last night I went to The Sporton Inaugural Professorial Lecture and Performance

Academic believes that the digital revolution has helped de-rail global economy.

Well, this lecture sounded interesting. As someone who practically lives via the digital world, as do many others, I wanted to hear about this and how it affected the economy.

It was Gregory Sporton's inaugural lecture. When someone is a new professor, they have to give their first lecture.

I haven't been to many lectures (though did give one at BCU about the 4am Project), but this one was pretty different. With a background in dance, the lecture kicked off with the Dance Of The Little Swans (video) which was choreographed by Gregory.

Gregory then took to the stage. He asked questions and raised points such as:

Are we replacing things (tangible items) for bits powered by the revolution in this digital age? Are we able to measure these bits in the same way as things? We can't see them. How do we know their value?

Is creativity being redifined by technology. 100 years a go, or so, a 'creative' would make something, such as artwork, or sculptures for example, and it wasn't a label people applied to themselves as quickly and easily as they do now.

Are we losing out on real life contact and connections by using tech tools such as Skype, twitter, Facebook etc, which may give the impression of closeness? Does it give us an excuse not to meet up with friends/family etc in real life? Is that healthy?

I was most saddened to hear about care robots for the elderly. How about this for replacing human contact with tech?

But it was not all doom and gloom. Gregory's lecture was sprinkled with humour throughout, and ended the way it started with a dance, (in the dark with coloured balls) in which Gregory himself performed! How often do you see a lecturer dancing? Not often I'd guess.

I'd say the next Professor who has an inaugural lecture will have to come up with something pretty imaginative to make it as memorable as Gregory's! ;)

I made a Storify of some of the tweets from last if you would like to check it out.

Say Hello on Twitter! @karenstrunks
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