April – little victories

A merry May to one and all! Except, hang on, shouldn’t this be the April post? Yes, it should, but for the minor issue that we are in fact a week into May and there has been no sight nor sound of an April blog post. Allow me to backtrack a moment to a couple of weeks ago, when I sat at my laptop ready and raring to write all about April. I was in position, fingers poised over the keyboard, set to download another month in the life of The Fairytale Traveller. With a few pointers in mind, I wrote a sentence. Then I deleted it, wrote another, and deleted that. Several deleted lines later I stopped, frustrated. I just couldn’t seem to translate the thoughts in my mind into eloquent or even coherent text on the page. After persevering a while longer I gave up, realising that, like so many other writers, I had been thwarted by writer’s block.

Now it’s May and here I am still struggling, so instead of labouring any longer over elaborate storytelling techniques, I have come to the conclusion that sometimes in life, all one needs is a list. I would never say life is too short for a good story, but on days where the sun is scorching the earth, forcing you to venture outdoors, paddle in streams, and take shelter under hazy green canopies of woodland; or when the late spring blossom is falling like balmy summer snow from the trees, i.e. a day like today, just sometimes, a short and sweet list is all you need.

So without further a-do, here is April in a nutshell:

  • The first two weeks comprised little other than practising Wing Chun Kung Fu in order for me to pass my first grading (I did – yay!).
  • The following week was spent (perhaps unsurprisingly) resting/recovering from all the practice of the previous weeks. However, a tasty distraction came along in the form of a berry cake I baked for a springtime/family birthday treat.
img_20180422_192041.jpg

N.B. This is a brilliant cake to make at short notice/if you don’t have much time – the sponge is just standard and the fruit looks great whether you take time to create a pattern or simply chuck it all on and pile it up!

  • The final week in April encompassed a few miniature work-related accomplishments which I had been working towards for a while, though I won’t elaborate much as it would make little sense without context.
  • At some point during the month spring finally decided to arrive, bringing with it a tirade of daffodils all around my garden. If you’ve read my post February – and breathe…, you may recall the 40 daffodil bulbs I planted last winter, which had just begun to sprout. Well, they are well and truly here now, although not quite in the uniform, all-facing-the-right-direction way I had hoped for. Instead, well, let’s just say they have character…

 

So there you have it – April! Nothing too revolutionary, but who knows what May will entail, right? It was all about the little victories this month I think, which ultimately is what keeps you (or at least me) going in the long run.

Time to get back to the unseasonal warmth of May now, so have a great month everyone!

Advertisements

February – and breathe…

So that’s a wrap on February. Bring on spring and, failing that, bring on pancakes! Or so my thoughts were at the beginning of this month, which seemed to flash by in a momentary blur of icy hailstones, brute-force winds, and a variety of Siberian and European storms. Beginning with a figurative storm and ending with a literal one, it was one hell of a whirlwind month. If January crawled, February took it upon itself to do a full on sprint to make up for lost time. Now suddenly March is upon us, and I find myself reflecting over the craziness of the past four weeks.

The weather alone essentially turned every walking or driving experience into something which closely resembled one of Hercules’s twelve labours.

Cue picture of me battling the elements as I trekked out for a walk at work:

bty

I defy any weather to stop me from my walks.

It was survival of the fittest and absolutely no joke.

Kudos to my tiny little car though, which proved quite the trooper through the so-called ‘beast from the east’. Sure, I had to dig her out of my driveway every morning, scrape several inches of snow from the roof, and not forget to evaporate the icicles which merrily decorated the whole lower edge right down to the license plate, but hey, I’ll be damned if she didn’t trundle through the sleet and wind as steadily as if it had been the middle of summer.

First proper winter driving experience – check.

Here’s a few pictures of slightly calmer times, between the snowstorms and bracing winds of the last month:

 

In retrospect, the weather was really a conveniently giant metaphor for the frustrating time I’ve had in other aspects of my life during this month. Everything from work stress to social stress proved a strain, until all I wanted to do was run to the other side of the world and breathe. Let’s just say it was trying, but the most important part there is the ‘was’. I think I’m through it now – walking 10 miles over last weekend helped let off some steam – and things are definitely more chilled now (pun unintended). Or maybe I’m just a bit less grumpy. We all go through fazes, I guess.

IMG_20180224_142911.jpg

I forgot to take any photographs of the amazing scenery during my 10 miles of walking, so here’s Jet afterwards, showing me how much he can’t even.

However, through all the wind and rain and general ‘Yorkshire tropics’* there was some good news. My daffodils, which I painstakingly planted over several frosty November weekends at the end of last year, have begun to sprout. Everywhere. Literally, they’re popping up all over the garden with no apparent intention of stopping anytime soon. Forty bulbs – that’s how many there were. It was forty for £3 or eighty for £5, and no way was I planting eighty bulbs. “It’s a good deal though,” my work colleagues said when I lugged the initial bag of bulbs into the office after the spontaneous lunchtime purchase. “It is,” I agreed, “If you want nothing but daffodils ever again.” I love daffodils, more so because my favourite colour is yellow, but one can only take so much of a good thing. I struggled to find places for them all around the garden, but finally managed to distribute them in as many corners and plant pots as I could find. Winter gardening is not something I’d recommend – my dog was certainly the most confused at his human’s sudden urge to dig – but it seems to be paying off!

IMG_20171119_124203.jpg

The long, long planting process.

IMG_20171119_133831.jpg

The ‘before’ picture, having planted my forty daffodil bulbs. Stand by for ‘after’.

On a totally unrelated and slightly warmer note, I also chose February to do something I have never before shown much interest in: cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I will bake until the cows come home, but cooking has always been a ‘meh’ topic for me. Suffice to say, that faze seems to have dissipated faster than the snow outside, but for all of last month I rather fancied myself Queen of the Kitchen. Here’s a short rundown of what are probably best referred to as ‘experiments’:

American-style blueberry pancakes – light, fluffy, sweet, what more could you want?

 

Apple pie baked apples – tasted good, but definitely didn’t quite look like the picture. More effort than they’re really worth in my opinion. No photos of these (they were eaten too fast), so I’ll insert the link below of the recipe I used.

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a55164/apple-pie-baked-apples-recipe/

Risotto stuffed peppers – lots of bitty preparation but well worth the results. Delicious. Again, no pics, but here’s the recipe link:

https://recipes.sainsburys.co.uk/recipes/main-courses/easy-knorr-risotto-stuffed-peppers

Chocolate cuties (yes, that’s their official name) – healthy(ish) bites of adorableness. Satsuma segments dipped in chocolate and cooled in the fridge – these didn’t last long.

IMG_20180210_220148_688.jpg

 

If the same wave of domesticity should hit at some point in the future, I’ll be sure to document the results. Realistically though, there’s a very slim chance!

So that’s February all done and dusted. March has already got off to an interesting start with more new endeavours and a few memories made, so I’m excited to see where the month takes me.

Until next time, have a great month and keep warm wherever you are!

*When the weather changes so frequently that we experience sun, rain, snow, wind, and anything else the Pennines can hurl our way within about a ten minute window.

 

What’s in a Name?

During my time at university, I took a creative writing module which explored a variety of writing styles and techniques, and encouraged us to think more abstractly about our own style. To put this into practice we were set a task, which required us to pair our names with the five main senses and create a ‘description’ of our name.

Although the task was only to describe our own name, I couldn’t resist doing the same for another. Alexis. It was a name given to a character in a novel I began, a name I have always loved, and also the name with which I was almost christened. Sometimes I think I would have preferred to be called Alex, or Alexandra, or Alexis, as the name feels significantly stronger than Sarah. Is that weird to think? Can names be strong, or are they simply what we make them? I feel Sarah is soft, not weak, but not powerful either. Sarah is safe, comfortable, secure, but Alex shouts adventure, courage, strength! I have always loved the etymology of names, and spend hours choosing names for my characters in stories. But this was something new, unexpected, and fresh to muse over, so here are my descriptions, which make my feelings of these two names abundantly clear.

Sarah

My name is the colour of ripe peaches. It smells like fresh country air and feels soft but solid, like a well-plumped cushion. My name tastes sweet, like melting toffee and sounds like water flowing gently down a stream.

Alexis

If my name was Alexis, it would be deep purple with streaks of yellow; strong like the indigo night flashing with light just before the storm breaks. It would smell like deep forests, where the light rarely penetrates. It would feel solid, with no hint of weakness, despite its rounded corners. It tastes like red grapes, solid but sweet once bitten, with a slight tang at the end. It sounds like a firework, first a whispering hiss followed by a great explosion of uniqueness.

So there you have it – fairly obvious which is the ‘stronger’ name. The fact is though, I like both of them, even though I far more fit the description of my actual name. I envy Alexis, I really do, but I also think some softness is required, particularly with the harsh traumas being inflicted on the world at the moment. So I will be content with Sarah, whilst taking my adventuring one step at a time as always. Sarah is good, Sarah is solid, but there’s another thing to remember too.

The middle name, so often secret, hidden away like a constant embarrassment. I’m not embarrassed of my middle name, rather, I think of it as a secret strength to use when times are tough. Una. That’s my name, Sarah Una, which brings yet another element to the softness of Sarah. Una brings strength, but a more magical, fantastical power, I think. Una brings majesty and brightness; a different type of adventure than Alexis, but adventure none the less. Una lifts Sarah, and Sarah keeps Una grounded, together creating a fusion of fantastic soundness.

So what does make up the fabric of a name? I guess only us as individuals will know, as they do become so closely intertwined with our personality. Regardless of that, it’s interesting to think about. Maybe in a few years Sarah won’t mean sanctuary any more, maybe Una will take the helm and steer her across new realms of strength and weakness and open up a whole world of experience. Maybe, or maybe not. Either way, Sarah Una is solid; Sarah Una is an entity in herself, and Sarah Una is determined to explore, achieve and drive herself to write her own outstanding, sparkling story.

This Blog is Still Finding Itself.

I began this blog with the intention of creating a space for me to record my memories of places travelled, as well as finding the fantastical and magical aspects of seemingly normal, everyday places. The first few blogposts followed that ‘rule’, but since then my writing has taken off in many adverse directions.

I have opened up so much more than I ever imagined I would, just in these first two months. About my writing, myself; things very close to my heart that I barely discuss with my friends, let alone strangers. I guess I loved the idea of having an anonymous presence, where people would only judge the posts as they came and then disappeared into the endless vortex of other blogs. It was to be a completely effervescent lifestyle, where I could live in a single, temporary moment before moving on to something else. That much has remained the same, I still get a wonderful, spontaneous kick of adrenaline writing each post. It’s exciting for a day or so when I see the responses, but then it fades until I begin the next blog, and so on. Apart from that, the rest of the blog seems to have taken on a life of its own – my life – but in a format that only shows the deepest, most heartfelt thoughts, moments, and memories of mine.

I am okay with this, I think, but I will endeavour to continue writing about my travels far and wide too, discovering the magic and majesty wherever I go, and recording those moments in my blog. It may not be implicit where I see the magical elements during my travels but, rest assured, if they have made it to The Fairytale Traveller, there will definitely be some fantastical existence intertwined within the words, no matter how obvious or obscure. I can only hope that you, my fellow writers and readers, will be patient with me, until my words begin to form something greater than themselves, than myself; until the stories flow without restriction, the words dance about the page, and The Fairytale Traveller begins to breathe a life of its own.

Thanks to you all