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2013 By Numbers

Ballet classes: 191 (good but could do better ;))

Pairs of pointe shoes since restarting pointe: three (good, well not the Freed Studios II which, it turned out, were not the right choice for my feet. The Bloch B Morphs and Grishko Proflex were/are great though)

Ballet performances seen: 29 (average)

Ballet companies seen: 11 (vg)

Books read: 221 (could definitely do better)

Knitting projects completed: EXCELLENT QUESTION (why do I have no method for recording this? Must do better)

Baked good produced: my colleagues’ answer to this would be “not enough” and I’d probably be inclined to agree!

TV programmes fallen in love with: Call the Midwife (my ovaries are SO on board the Good Ship Turnadette it’s not funny) and Sherlock. On the downside all my long standing favourites are starting to Jump The Shark (yes, Homeland, I’m looking at you. Also Bones)

Number of times my ovaries were damaged in some, way, shape or form: innumerable (must gird better)

Occasions on which I was forced to break out the CAPSLOCK SQUEE: many

Niggling injuries: numerous (must do better)

2013 has been… well it’s not been terribly bad. It’s had a lot of good points, a few slumps but mostly it’s been a nice year of middling along in an average kind of fashion which suits me just nicely. I don’t think I have many particular aims and ambitions and resolutions for 2014. Well, you know the usual things: Be Less Fat, sleep more, stop playing stupid games on my phone instead of going to sleep, knit more, work harder, keep my bedroom tidy, keep my desk tidy…  oh and BLOG MORE (because I have been a total Slack Alice).Well, maybe there’s a few balletic aims but nothing silly, all (with any luck and a following wind) fairly achievable:

  • manage a pirouette en pointe without getting up to passé and freaking out
  • achieve some kind of consistency with pirouettes (at the minute there are some classes where I just settle for hitting a decent balance and I’d quite like to get over that now thank you)
  • manage an attitude pirouette
  • achieve consistent doubles en dehors both sides
  • get my demi pointe balances more consistent
  • start jumping again (my patella tendon/ITB have been… niggly so jumping’s been out since about October which is galling)

It’s still a bit funny to look back to two years ago when I was in the deep throes of my emo meltdown and all “I NEVER WANT TO DANCE AGAIN”. What a drama queen! Mind you, what a change too. I think 2013, in all honesty, was my happiest dancing year – it’s amazing the change that dancing in the right environment can bring. I have incredible, exceptionally supportive teachers and some completely awesome in class chums and, no matter how lousy the day has been up until Ballet O’Clock, I never fail to leave without feeling at least a little lifted and I know that I am so very, very lucky. Dance wise, there’s a long way to go – at the moment I’m settling for ‘competent. As one of my teachers said “no, not great but definitely better”*.

Here’s to 2014. And “better”.



Filed under baking and mixing and kitchen stuff, ballet how it should be done, I dance (not by Toyota), iPointe, knitting on pointe, random stuff and nonsense

Quality Time

I am really, really getting slack at this whole blogging malarkey. It’s not that I have nothing to say, more that it just feels like such an effort to say it. I guess I have a touch of blogger’s lag or something. I could blame the weather, malingering under a heat wave is such an odd occurrence in Angleterre… It was ace up until the point my shins got sunburnt yesterday. In Rural Derbyshire. Go self! I could blame taking class five nights a week now, by the time I’ve gone to work then ballet it’s bedtime when I get home. And there’s my addiction to knitting my blanket…

This weekend is all about QT though. Four days in Rural Derbyshire with my hills and my books and my knitting. Yesterday I sprawled in a sun lounger with my knitting, kindle and TMS on the radio box. It was a hazy summer day and the clouds rolled overhead occasionally breaking into brilliant sunlight and an amazingly blue sky before new fluffy cloud drifted along.

This morning there’s a distinct drop in temperature so I’ve used the time wisely to rearrange my Chalet School books into chronological order since they were unrearranged when my Vati moved the shelves so I could sit up and read in bed without having to crack my head on a shelf to do so. He’s a good egg, my Vati.







(Photos in entirely the wrong order: resewing pointe shoe ribbons in the park on my lunch break, my blanket!, my hills, a few books I’m borrowing, Mutti’s blanket which I’ve appropriated for the weekend and Baby and Pirate overseeing my chalets)

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What do you mean we need a break from the old routine? Happy 2013!

Somehow 2013 is only ten days old and I swear it already feels like mid-October. I suspect that this is come kind of internal protest against the fact I was back at work on the 2nd and my soul feels a little destroyed as a result. NEVER MIND.

As usual, I am making half-assed resolutions of things I intend to do. Things like… I will get up early and have a little stretch before work. I will stop eating rubbish all the time (aka Operation Be Less Fat). I will learn to crochet (I actually will this year). I will take up running to increase my cardio fitness so I stop wanting to die during allegro (once I’ve been back to podiatry to see if my ridiculous feet can handle it). I will not have giant strops about having to do physio (we’ll see). I will be motivated and do my work properly and not doss about on Sporcle leaving everything until the last minute (erm… we’ll keep working on that). We’ll see how we go, I rather suspect any vague enthusiasm will peter out by the end of the month!

The year is already three ballet classes, four books, half a knitting project and no baked goods old. I find it slightly incredibly weird that this time last year I couldn’t have cared less if I never took another ballet class again. My last class before Christmas in 2012 was completely different: I couldn’t wait to get back to it. I’d finally worked out what I wanted from ballet and I’ve found classes that support me in this – I consider myself to be really quite incredibly lucky. I’d spent 2011 taking it all too seriously – I’m still serious about my ballet but not to the extent that it’s the be all and end all of my life. I spent 2012 walking a fine line with ballet but it’s all good now.

I finished my first book of 2013 at the weekend – Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise, if anyone’s interested (and yes, I watched the looseley based thereon TV series and loved it ;)). Is it just me or is there something so totally satisfying about finishing the first book of a year? It also transpired at the weekend that my mini-me and I are really quite bad influences on each other, to wit (in Waterstones, much to the amusement of the shop assistant): “I’ll get one [Kindle] if you do” “Two of your finest Kindles, please, shopkeeper”. I  paraphrase slightly but that was how it went. So yes, I’ve now joined the 21st century of reading matter although I haven’t actually read anything on it yet owing to my slightly overwhelming ‘to read’ pile (largely borrowed from my mother). And for anyone with concerns, it’s the basic Kindle – none of this touch screen nonsense, if you please! (For reference: touch screens give me the creeps. So do dolls but that’s a different matter entirely.)

I say the year is half a knitting project old, technically it’s two half projects old but I’m not wholly sure how much continuing a carry over from 2012 counts. The half completed project begun in 2013 is a baby hoodie. As with previous adventures in baby knitting, this is mostly about every ten rows me waving it in my housemate’s face and declaring ‘LOOK, ISN’T IT CUTE/WEE/ADORABLE’. Poor housemate. I have some half-assed intentions about knitting for 2013 but I won’t blog too much about them in case my default setting of pathological laziness wins out… or maybe I should then I can be browbeaten into carrying them out. Huh.

Before Christmas I was presented with a make your own gingerbread house kit by a colleague who’d been sent it by some company he uses claiming that it would never get made in his house. It’s been stashed on my bookcase ever since but I think that will be my first proper taking to the kitchen of 2013 (that isn’t for pasta or cereal, maybe I should add ‘sort my diet out properly’ to my list of half-assed resolutions) this weekend. It seems to be a lot of decorating which I freely admit is not my forte… impatience rules!

And in case anyone was missing it (I doubt it), I won’t be liveblogging Dancing on Ice this year. I realised it was killing my enjoyment of the show so no liveblog, also (let’s be honest) I need more knitting hours in my life and a few hours in front of the telly box with something mindless on is idea for that. I’m sure you’ll all survive…


Filed under baking and mixing and kitchen stuff, I dance (not by Toyota), knitting on pointe, nellie on telly

“Try something new today.”

I rather suspect when Sainsbury’s came up with that advertising slogan they weren’t thinking along the lines of: you know that pizza takeaway you discovered on the way home when you were quite drunk after too many half price champagne cocktails, well try it sober. But, y’know, that’s by the by. Yesterday was a day that necessitated pizza and that was that (also cake but I digress) – let’s face it, a day off the diet wagon from time to time isn’t the end of the world.

The thing is, I got back off holiday and promptly hit a slump about everything. Twenty four carat, in your face, mind blowing slump. And then I started a cold which I thought I’d shaken off on holiday, apparently not. Gone is the tubercular-esque hacking cough but here with a vengeance is the headachey, sinsuy, I-think-my-face-may-explode cold. Between anti-histamine, Lemsip and the occasional Nurofen for my tooth, I’m keeping Boots happily in business right now. Cranky, verily it is me.

Despite the slump and a case of the blahs, I thought it time I pulled my finger out on the blog front…

‘Stretching With Darcey B’

Okay, so I had reservations after I wrenched my neck the first time I tried to “Stretch With Darcey B” and I wasn’t entirely convinced that my pathological laziness wouldn’t win out but I seem to be keeping this up on days without class. I’ve even palmed the book off on my housemate so she can work on a post-gym stretching routine à la Darcey B. And maybe, I whisper tentatively, it’s starting to pay off. When I take a forward porte-de-bras my fingertips skim the floor, barre stretch no longer wants to make me howl in pain (just sob a little ;)) and there was something else that has now slipped my mind…

An accidental spate of book buying

My current ‘to read’ pile is the largest it’s been in a while. I’d say ‘oops’ but I really have no issue with this (except that I’ve put myself on a book buying embargo until it shrinks a bit, that is woeful). Anyway, I bought myself a few dance related books by following ‘Amazon recommends’ (which my bank balance does not recommend but hey-ho) and wound up with a copy of Deborah Bull’s Dancing Away. I’d read her Everyday Dancer earlier in the year as an ‘emergency read’ (translate: I finished my book and needed to buy something to read on the way home) and my whelm was neither under nor over by it. On the other hand, Dancing Away which chronicles Bull’s time away from the Royal Opera House whilst it was being redeveloped, I adored. Upshot: Deborah Bull is ace and you should all read it.

You can take the girl out of ballet…

Remember at the beginning of the year I had some half-assed intentions of things I wanted to do this year? Maybe? Well I still haven’t learned to crochet and my ‘learning to cook’ stalled a little when I went back to ballet but I have branched out a little on the dance front. What have I learned? You can take the girl out of ballet, but you can’t take ballet out of the girl. My run in with street dance was hilarious, everything about it my inner-ballet-ness simply went ‘no’ to. Oh dear. I loved the class but it was something I could only do once. Tap’s going better but I need to get shoes with heel taps because I keep missing beats (also need to relax more, but again: ballet says no). On the other hand, the ballet/yoga fusion class I did was pretty neat: aced the ballet parts, floundered a little with the yoga parts (but apparently I have “nice extensions”, get in) but certainly left feeling well worked and well stretched.

Pink tights

I know I’ve made my feelings on pink tights quite plain, also pink shoes and just pink in general. Anyway I’ve been on/off braving pink shoes of late and for some reason unknown to myself I now own a pair of pink tights. At the moment they are offensively pink, I’m hoping that a few washes will make them less so… I’m almost loath to admit it but my legs don’t look as dreadful as I feared in them and, well, actually they go quite well with my pink shoes.

But I’d just like to state for the record: I WILL NOT NEVER EVER BE BUYING A ‘BALLET PINK’ LEOTARD. Even the mere notion is enough to make me want to vomit.

Other things

STEPHANIE O’BRIEN, JUST… WHAT… WHAT… I can’t even. I have no words, no feelings, no… nothing. Anything else I’d even half contemplated sticking in this blog post has gone out of the window at Steph announcing she’s leaving the Puppini Sisters. STEPH WHO KISSED MY CHEEK AND CALLED ME A ‘GOOD GIRL’. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to be in the corner CRYING ALL THE TEARS. (Yerno, good luck to her with her new ventures and what not but I’m still uber sad.)

Coming on the back of the fact I am still having all of the ~feels having watched In Excelsis Deo (West Wing 1.9) last night, my fangirl heart is not coping. Toby, Mrs Landingham, CJ/Danny…

I need to go and live in a cave. Or maybe just go to Rural Derbyshire for the weekend and cold turkey on life in general. Just as well I’m off there tomorrow night then! As Mr T would advise: RECOUP.


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Filed under I dance (not by Toyota), random stuff and nonsense

“Still, grey and to all appearances… curled up in the corner lost with the Chalet School.”

“A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend.”  ~Author Unknown

I am surrounded by books, I have shelves stuffed to overflowing both here and still and my parents’ house. I grew up surrounded by books and the highlight of my week was heading into the village to go to the library clutching mine and my brother’s tickets and read my way through it. Books are friends, a really good one you’ll go back to again and again, never tiring of it and always finding something new in it. Whilst there’s something so fresh and exciting about a new book – that smell, that unbroken spine – there’s something else all together about an old friend of a book with its slightly dog-eared corners, it’s fragile spine and its own distinctive smell. More than anything, however, I find myself drawn time and again back to those favourite, now fragile, books of childhood – Enid Blyton, Susan Cooper, Arthur Ransome, Jill Murphy, Alan Garner, Roald Dahl and Elinor M. Brent-Dyer.

I was eight or so when I was given a 3-in-1 edition of Brent-Dyer’s first Chalet School books as a Christmas present. I remember trying them, not finding them as exciting as Enid Blyton and eschewing them for a few months until devouring all three sitting in the boot of my father’s red Vauxhall Astra estate on a fishing trip in the school holidays when I’d grown bored of the fishing. I was gratified to discover a short while later on a shopping expedition that there were more in the series. And not just your average more, not half a dozen à la Blyton, oh no. There were 62 or 58, it depends if you’re using the paperback or the hardback numbering. Last year, after over twenty years, I completed my collection and I felt… bereft. I know there are fill-ins and I can upgrade my existing collection if I so wish but… never again would I feel that tiny surge of excitement at holding a new Chalet School title in my grubby paws. I slid that last book (Redheads, if you’re interested) on to the shelf and, momentarily, my completist soul was placated.

I’d collected a dozen or so titles across the series by the time I was eleven/twelve or so at which point my parents decided I was too old for them. For some reason I never questioned this. I still remember the last title I bought – Challenge, because I had a preference for the melodramatics and was sucked in by the description of Miss Ferrars’ collapsing with appendicitis in the blurb. I confess, this was how I chose most of the titles I acquired as a child – any mention of drama, accidents (the bus crash in Gay for example) and the like, I was in there. Several years later, in my first year at university I wandered into the children’s section of the second hand book shop bored of scouring for texts for French Literature. My eyes lighted upon a slim, green spined, almost pristine copy of And Jo. Something within me stirred and I instinctively reached for it, at a mere fifty pence I wasn’t arguing, added it to the top of the pile of Racine and Molière and stalked to the till to pay. I spent that evening rudely ignoring my housemates, curled up with my new acquisition as comfortably as one could get in our common room chairs and reacquainted myself with Madge and Joey and the Robin and all the other early characters. I felt safe and, frankly, the fact I had an Italian exam in a couple of days time was no longer here nor there: I was back in the Tyrol with the characters I’d loved so much as a child.

It was a downhill slope from there really. My collection multiplied rapidly thanks to discovering Ebay (oops, poor student!) and the gaps in my knowledge were slowly but surely being filled: fleeting references I’d never wholly understood but always seemed to cause gales of laughter to the characters began to make sense. By the end of my first year, I had books stacked on the floor as they no longer fitted on the meagre shelf space university thought we could manage with. And I still wanted to go to the Chalet School, I didn’t care that I was nineteen by this stage, I still wanted to go. I guess I still do sometimes, just like I’m still waiting for my Hogwarts letter.

The Chalet School is my comfort blanket of reading. Sure, the later titles are completely ridiculous (Summer Term, anyone?) – definitely quality not quantity but that’s more than made up for by the brilliance of the earlier titles. The early Tyrol books are pure escapism – you can’t beat that gorgeous Innsbruck Christmas for the ultimate comfort read. But I’m more inclined to pull the grittier war years books from the shelf when I want something to lose myself in, the ones that are Brent-Dyer at her absolute most incredible with the heart wrenching scene in Spartz with the Goldmanns, when Vater Johan saves them and that flight from Austria. For Brent-Dyer, the war wasn’t as black and white as it was often painted and she was brave enough to show those shades of grey in her writing.

I’m probably overdue a reread of some sort, refamiliarising myself with those old friends who’ve been a constant in my life. The stack of duplicates I’ve been meaning to charity shop for about three years are sitting on my floor looking at me, saying ‘come on, you know you want to read me once you’ve finished your Le Carré’. Maybe I will, I see there’s a paperback copy of Exile there. Maybe I’ll read that before the Le Carré, I’m sure the spy can wait to come in from the cold a little longer…

[This post brought to you courtesy of The Girls’ Own Blog Carnival]


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…help me take the shadows away/cardigan redux

Yarny goodness!

Fair Isle Plotting

I am totally loving doodling geometric designs for this. I’d sort of settled on the snowflake a while ago but I couldn’t quite get the right chart. I managed it tonight but I don’t think it needs the ‘t’ bits round the edges so I’ve taken those out. This is why practice tiny squares are a good thing.

I’ll tell you what else is a good thing: going out for dinner with the friend you can share with, BBM chats with my bestest and discussing root veg via Twitter with my mini-me. Post is also a good thing. I got Haribo in the post today, which was excellent, although they’ve all gone now. I also got this:

Possibly the best book EVER

I am planning on knitting ALL OF THE CATS in this book. I kid you not.

And this has arrived this week too… as a slight distraction from West Wing:

Two episodes in and I am having ALL OF THE FEELINGS

It’s all good. Yep.


Filed under knitting on pointe, random stuff and nonsense

Ballet and books, books and ballet… and a bit of film

So last night, Housemate and myself went to see Jane Eyre in the old Kino. I was, I admit, apprehensive – Jane Eyre is one of those books I have a chequered history with. I read it in my early teens (curled up in the rocking chair, in case anyone was interested) and hated it, I read it again several years later, still hated it. The film was okay, not brilliant but not dreadful, although I did switch off for large chunks of it (and Mrs Rochester wasn’t mad enough, frankly). I’m half tempted to read the book again now, but I have a bit of a general Brontë aversion (actually, I tolerate Anne a little better as an adult but I’d quite happily burn every copy of Blethering Shite and Charlotte is just… well, dull).

Anyway, I got to thinking from there to books I really, really can’t stand (Madame fucking Bovary*) and from there to ballet adaptations of novels/plays. I’ve seen various Rom&Juls to the point I now get confused if I see a non-balletic Rom&Jul because, err hello, why are there words in it?! Maybe Shakespeare’s not a good starting point, I’m not all that hot on old Billy Shakes…

But then I thought more about what books actually have been adapted into ballets? There are two that instantly spring to mind.

Manon. Don Quixote.

Here’s the thing, I read French and Spanish at uni, I did a lot of literature modules and I read a lot of trash as a result. I read some semi good things (Pedro Paramo and La machine infernale) but mostly I read a load of old pantaloons (I’m looking at you Carcel de amor in particular).

I point blank refuse to go and see either Manon or Don Q because I’m still carrying trauma mental scars about them both from university.

Manon, semester one first year, last book, an unhappy tutorial in which I tried to convince my tutor that the best thing anyone could ever do with this novel was feed it to the seagulls. I read it three times, you know, once in French then once in English just to be doubly sure it was a load of old pantaloons and then again in French for revision. I tell you, if Abbé Prévost was alive today, I’d wring his neck. Manon was on the old telly box a couple of Christmas’ back, I tried to watch it, I really did but five minutes in I had to give up because of the hatred flare, the itchy skin, the memories of reading it screaming internally ‘this is ALL SO STUPID, they’re ALL SO STUPID’. I never thought I could hate a book so much until I read Madame fucking Bovary in second year but we’ll gloss over that. It doesn’t matter how much anyone sells Manon to me, the mere mention is enough to get my skin crawling…

Don Q’s a different kettle of fish. I read that second semester of final year for I think the module went by the jazzy name of Spanish Language, Reality and Illusion (it involved some Latin American novels with dead narrators and stuff along with DQ). I ploughed through DQ bilingually in the mid semester break and, dear God, did that book go on or what? I only forced myself to finish it to be able to write an essay on it (I did well on the essay too, surprisingly). I’ve seen bits of DQ at galas and things but I honestly couldn’t make myself sit through the whole thing; it would involve too much in head screaming about how ridiculous it is.

As starting points go, I guess two ballets I refuse to watch is a bad one. Tell you what I did like though, Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice in Wonderland. I was nervy about that one, Alice being one of my favourite childhood novels, but I was proved wrong. Rom&Jul I have mixed feelings about, depending on the choreography – I think I was spoilt by seeing the Stuttgart ballet dance the Cranko choreo first and nothing after that is ever going to quite live up to it (I’m looking at you Kenneth ‘marmite’ MacMillan**, sorry). I also enjoyed Winter Dreams (Chekov) more than I thought I was going to. There are others but my mind has drawn its now traditional blank in the face of pressure.

And then, what about balletic interpretations I’d like to see? Well, Harry Potter, of course – balletic Snape, what could be more beautiful?! After that I have no idea. Oh mind, why must you always blank me at the crucial moment? Oooh, Pride and Prej, that’d be quite glorious – think of the fun you could have with a balletic Mr Collins…

Thoughts, gentle readers? Any?


*Sorry, there are some things that have to be clarified with that. Bleurgh.

**It took a while but in the end I realised that MacMillan ballets are like Marmite, either love ‘em or hate ‘em but no grey areas in between. F’rex, I love Concerto, Rite of Spring and Elite Syncopations but can’t stand Rom&Jul, Different Drummer and Judas Tree.


Filed under ballet how it should be done, random stuff and nonsense