This is not a problem or an obsession. No.

There are reasons that my bestest is, well, my bestest.

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Take one recurrence of persistent tendonitis, one pair of über boring beige wrist splints, TWO trips to the pound shop and, one glittery eyebrow later, I am feeling less woeful and sorry for myself about the flare up.

Also in no way whatsoever do I have a new addiction in the form of looooooooom banding but when the following utterance spilt forth from my lips “I was going to pick up my knitting but…” I think we had to reevaluate the situation.

So judge me… :)

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June, speaking numerically…

Wow, I have been a total fail at updating since my last numerical round up! As usual a whole host of half thought out posts in my head that petered out mid way through… Somewhat like my university essays.

Anyway, here’s how June shaped up:

Books read 17 (could do better)
Ballet classes 15 (good, see: going on holiday)
Ballets seen: 10 (nine pieces in the Royal Ballet’s Draft Works programme (let’s talk about how Kristen McNally is a GENIUS of epic proportions) and ENB’s Rom&Jul in the round)
Emotions had over watching Daria Klimentova’s final performance: ALL OF THEM AND THEN SOME. I am still too emotionally fragile to consider discussing it.
Ballet companies seen: 2 (RB & ENB)
Knitting projects completed: 4 (various teeny tiny baby items)
Knitting WIPs: 2 (Mutti’s Christmas present (there’s dedication and organisation for you) and a terribly dull manly tank top for a small person – the pattern’s dull, I adore the aforementioned small person!)
Times left London: 2 (a week’s jolly Holiday in a Cottage – #hiac2014, so cool my friends and I that our holiday have their own hashtag – to Suffolk where we did not get murdered (A+!) and a long weekend back in the Shire being mistaken for a picnic by the local insects)
Times my très adorbz teacher decided that the only way for my battered Achilles to properly understand how to land changements would be to lift me: 2
Times said teacher also completely (inadvertently) scared the wits out of me during turns: 1
Books bought on holiday: 4 (a come down from last year’s 21… Or was it 22?)
Yarn bought on holiday: 50g of some variegated stuff purchased on the last morning. Yes, I almost made it through a whole holiday without buying yarn!

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May, by numbers

More years hung on the line: 1 (see me, I am so old)
Awesome birthday parties hosted featuring pony temp tattoos: 1
Glorious birthday days out had with the bestest featuring seaside, cocktails, cake and ice cream: 1
Books read: 19 (could do better)
Ballet classes: 20 (good)
Ballets seen: 7 or 10, depends on how you count repeat viewings…
Ballet companies seen: 2 (Scottish ballet’s Rom&Jul, Royal ballet in two triple bills: serenade, sweet violets & DGV (twice) and the dream, Connectome & the concert)
Knitting projects completed: 1 (I think, possibly my cloche hat with my Orkney yarn)
Knitting projects started and rapidly become obsessed with: 1 (Vivid by Tincanknits which I will probably blog about at length at some juncture)
Ballet bags lost and found on public transport: 1
Lunch breaks spent dashing about covent garden for replacement ballet things: 1
Minor injuries sustained that turned me into a rampaging hormonal drama queen: 1 (I slightly popped a rib, it was quite painful but I made a disproportionate amount of fuss, for shame)
Occasions hi-5ed by drunk men for being gorgeous: 1 (me and my pointe teacher have ALL the fun on our way back to the station…)
Times I was mistaken for still, grey and to all appearances dead during floor barre: 1 (oops)
Other exciting occurrences: 1 (my bestest became a home owner!)

Apparently my ballet is improving, I can’t quite see or feel it but am putting it down to no longer being stressed out of my tiny mind. However such occurrences as managing to do an entire sissone exercise the wrong way round do make me query this assertion from other people… We shall see, je suppose.

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Friends reunited

I got my ballet bag back! Chums, I can’t even begin to tell you how completely and utterly downright awesome this is. Despite all my moaning that it was lit forever to my train company and it had vanished into their black hole of lost property!

On Tuesday I was sprawled on our staff room sofa reading David Starkey’s book about Henry VIII’s early days when my phone rang. It was the lost property office informing me they thought they’d got my bag. Not wishing to count my chickens and all that, I was tentatively excited then slipped away from work a bit early to collect my bag en route to class.

It was mine as I was gleefully reunited with my accumulated dance crap and so very, very happy/relieved as a result. See (please appreciate my beautifully bouffant immediately post bun hair):

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I went on my lunch break and I bought…

One pair of Bloch proelastic ballet flats
One pair of black stirrup tights
One Bloch floaty dress thing
One Capezio black cami leo
One pair cheap black H&M tights
Two H&M tees
One black dotty skirt
One packet hair bobbles
One packet hair pins
One packet hair grips
One knee support
One tube deep freeze
One packet of plasters
One roll on deodorant

Moral of the story, chums: don’t leave your dance bag on the train.

It’s not as if it’s a small thing. Or something I don’t cart around on a daily basis. But the realisation when I got the office was GALLING.

I’ve registered it as lost property with my train company who take TEN DAYS to get back to you (allegedly, I’ve reported lost property to them before and nobody’s ever got back to me).

I’m already slightly resigned to never being reunited with my dance bag and it’s two years worth of accumulated crap. I’m sad about losing my grey tee with the blue polka dot elbow patches and the ballet shoes I was just starting to get used to and my pretty ruffle front leo and my excellent stripy slippers and my butterfly headband.

I mean it’s not the end of the world and I did need a new rucksack anyway (I’m also über grateful that it wasn’t pointe class today!), but I’ll just be in the corner kicking myself quietly for a bit.

On the plus side, my ego was firmly massaged a short while later with an email telling me I’d got the funding in my budget I’d put in a business case for and that it was the best written/presented case of all the ones that went in this year’s proposed budget. As it was my first business case, I’m gonna call that a win.

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April, numerically speaking

I really need I do something that doesn’t involve lying in bed eating chocolate and more resembles tidying my house before my guests arrive… I know my friends well enough that they wouldn’t judge me (much) if I hadn’t tidied before their advent but for the fact that the entire contents of my spare room are in the living room because the spare room’s just been decorated. Anyway, that aside, April has been and gone and I am about to hang another year on the line… So, by numbers:

Books read 22 (promising)
Traumatic train journeys with no reading material because I’d read all my book and my kindle battery had died 1
Kindle apps downloaded for phone in consequence 1
Ballet classes 18 (not bad given Easter and Time Away)
Pairs of ballet flats I have refused to acknowledge as dead 1
NON BALLET RELATED THEATRE EXPERIENCES 1 (2 if dancing on ice counts thereas), I saw Angela Lansbury in Blithe Spirit and it was EPIC
Ballets seen: 5 (although technically 9 because I saw ENB’s Lest We Forget programme of four pieces twice. I also saw the Royal Ballet’s Winter’s Tale but it’s LWF that’s staying with me)
Ballet companies seen 2 (English National and Royal)
Artistic directors of ballet companies I had a cheeky interval meet up with 1 (<3)
Knitting projects completed 1 (POOR SHOW SELF. Mind it was the Hat of Doom I knitted for Mutti which verily tried my patience…)
Times left London 2 ( Easter weekend en famille in Norfolk and a swift tour of Liverpool, Derbyshire, North Wales and Leeds)
Cuddles with my nephews: not enough
Bruises acquired from acting as wicket keeper in familial cricket matches: approx 10 per knee
Emotions had over watching Torvill and Dean performing Bolero publicly for the last time: quite a lot

On the subject of my poor dead ballet shoes, it's definitely time to say goodbye but I just can't…

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Ten questions…

Lovely Johanna of Pointe Til You Drop asked ten questions about ballet, I thought about ten answers…

1. What is your favourite time for ballet class?

I always take class in the evening as I work 9-5 weekdays so it’s a dash from the office to class. I think though, given my level of excess energy after class, that I could probably really do with taking class at about 7am and then trying to harness that energy to power me through a day in the office! Maybe I’d drink far fewer caffeinated beverages then…

2. How many classes do you take on a weekly basis?

I take class every evening after work (four regular and one pointe) and floor barre once a week after class (aka All Those Muscles You Didn’t Work Properly In Ballet Are Coming Back To Haunt You). Class is anywhere from one hour to pushing 2.5 hours – depending on how involved the teacher gets!

3. What do you eat before class?

Dependent on how much cake I’ve been eating at work… Usually it’s a bowl of cereal (granola or muesli or whatever’s on offer at the supermarket) and a banana. Sometimes it’s just the banana if there’s been a lot of cake! My diet is actually appalling.

4. What’s inside your ballet bag?

Everything AND the kitchen sink, or at least that’s what it feels like! I have bags within bags… Two pairs of ballet flats, one shawl, one wash bag (anti blister stuff, foot spray, deodorant, tin of hair grips, lip balm, hairbrush, mirror, toe tape, knee support, ankle supports, other stuff), tin of hair stuff (hair pins, hair bobbles, hair slides, hair nets), tin of ‘first aid’ stuff (plasters, blister plasters, scissors), usually a random head scarf hanging around, laundry bag, bag of spare kit (leo, shorts, tights), bag of kit (leo, tights, skirt/shorts, top made from old tights, jumper/cardigan/t-shirt, warm up trousers), slippers, change of clothes from work stuff (usually joggers and a t-shirt) and on pointe days my pointe shoe bag (shoes, toe pads, other stuff for being nice to my toes). I am that useful person who is prepared for most eventualities… and the one everyone turns to when they’ve forgotten their tights/shoes/hair pins/whatever…

5. How do you prepare for class?

I tend to get changed at work and stick my leo and tights on under a pair of joggers and a t-shirt then make a dash to class. I finish getting changed when I get to class, do battle with my hair to try and make it something like vaguely presentable then go and ‘warm up’. I use the term lightly: some days I run in ever decreasing circles around the studio, others I just lie on the floor and grab a ten minute power nap and sometimes I just sit around and have a chat.

6. What’s your favourite part of class?

All of it? I have more confidence at the barre but I really love jumping (even though my body doesn’t love it quite so much). I’ve definitely developed a lot more love for adage over the years, when it goes right there’s nothing like it at all. I also really like getting something that’s challenging right, there’s such a sense of satisfaction that goes with it.

7. What’s your biggest challenge in class?

Not looking down (even when my head’s up my eyes usually aren’t) and not dancing “apologetically” (I am forever being reminded to “dance big”) are my main challenges. Other things like being able to co-ordinate my arms and legs, remember which direction I’m facing/moving in and then littler things like certain steps: waltz turns, frappés, some jumps… and all the usual things about keeping my spine (as straight as it will go), not sitting in (or out!) of my hips, maintaining turn out, not rolling my feet, keeping my shoulders down… the list goes on.

8. What is your level?

I mostly take classes that are labelled intermediate but I don’t always feel very intermediate. On a good day I’d describe myself as “competent beginner”, on a really good day I’d probably feel that I’d scraped into intermediate by the skin of my teeth. Improving, I guess is probably the term I’m looking for.

9. Describe a “moment” you had in class.

It was a few months back and I can’t remember if it was an adage or an allegro… but it was definitely something in the centre and by some kind of miracle, I’d managed to get it all right including orientation, steps, epaulment, the lot. My completely adorable teacher came up to me when we finished the exercise, shook my hand, patted my shoulder and thanked me for getting it right (he is so completely adorable it’s not true). I guess it’s the little “moments” that make it, the yeses and the goods, the being pushed to the front in centre as a competent person to follow (although I can usually guarantee this results in me forgetting everything), and the “moments” that don’t get seen or acknowledged but you know it’s gone right.

10. What is it that you love about taking ballet class?

I love the fact that no matter how terrible my day has been up until I get to class, I can guarantee that I always leave feeling about a million percent better than when I arrived. I love being able to completely empty my mind for a couple of hours and forget all about reality. I love spending time with like minded people who understand the need to dance. I love the fact that both places I dance are so incredibly supportive of their adult dancers and encourage us to push ourselves to be the best that we can be and that they both care about me as an individual. I love the feeling of accomplishment after a good class and I love the fact that ballet is never static. One of my work colleagues commented that for me, going to class is like them going home and watching TV for the evening – essentially the studio is my living room. I like the analogy.

And I love shopping for dancewear. What’s not to love about a new leo?!

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