Tag Archives: naval gazing

Dansolutions 2016 update

*insert pathetic, whingey excuses for not blogging here*

The triple pirouette is not coming on at all. Even my sporadically consistent double has left me and my singles are wobbly. This happens every now and again, I freak out that I will never be able to turn again and eventually thy come slowly back.

On the other hand, I changed my pointe shoe maker to one with a slightly harder box (I wear Freed classic plus, btw) and I am sort. Of managing en dehors en pointe again. Woo!

AND, after some very sensible advice from one of my teachers, I am revisiting dansolution 2015 which was to wear deshanked dead pointe shoes for ‘normal’ class. It’s working out better this time round but in some aspects I feel like I’ve gone back to he beginning again.

In running news, I hit my 2016 runsolution of a sub-29 parkrun in January. Then I did it again in February and in March. Then we moved back on to the summer course and my times have slowed because it’s fractionally trickier. Seeking a new challenge, I’ve signed up for a 10k next month – I’m aiming for 65-70 minutes!

And in Operation Read All The Things, I am on O-P of the fiction shelves. And in knitting news, I got sucked in by a yarn sale and am now happily addicted to a sock yarn blanket.


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Filed under I dance (not by Toyota), Run, Nellie, run

Dansolutions 2016

I would resolve to blog more in 2016, but I’m more about resolutions that I’m likely to stick to. Besides, is anyone still even with me here? Hi, our patience has been rewarded if so!

I had a measly three dansolutions for 2915:

1. Keep a dance journal: I managed for a month. Never mind.
2. Wear soft blocks: hahaha. Managed this for about a week before I wimped back to my flats.
3. Sort out my dancewear: I did this multiple times, it continues to expand without my knowledge 😉

I think I only really have one dansolution for 2016:

1. Do a triple pirouette (either side, any direction)

That should do nicely.

I’ve got a runsolution as well to sub-29 at parkrun (5k with a current PB of 29:21) and to intentionally complete a 10k (rather than unintentionally because I screwed up at the finish line of a 5/10k race and stayed on for the second lap).

That’s it: that’s all I intend to achieve in 2016.

I also want to knit a bit more than I have done this year. Oh and I aim to carry on with Operation Read AllThe Things: I managed A-H of my fiction (excluding Agatha Christie which I’m saving) interspersed with one new book a week.

And on that note, I’m going to watch Sherlock.

Happy New Year, chums!

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Filed under I dance (not by Toyota), Run, Nellie, run

“Because you’re a ballet dancer…”

My physio said this to me in my last appointment whilst he was trying to free up some movement in my impinged ankle. I have to admit, it made me feel a bit weird.

I mentioned it a couple of days later to one of my teachers, who looked at me like I’d gone mad and said “but you *are* a ballet dancer”.

I protested on both occasions. Because I’m not. Or am I?

Instinctively I define myself by my day job, the thing I do between 9 and 5 that pays the bills and ballet lessons and pointe shoes and dancewear…

Ballet is my hobby. It’s something I do in my free time. It’s something I fell in love with. It’s something I can’t not do.

But I’m not a ballet dancer. I’m a [my day job] who happens to also take ballet lessons. And I just happen to have an injury that is typical to ballet dancers.

Essentially I don’t know how I feel about being defined as a dancer by somebody else.

But I wonder, at what point do you become a dancer?


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

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

Festive cheer? [A post mostly about cake and a little about ballet]

Somewhere along the way I appear to have misplaced my festive spirit – I think mostly because I am quite confused as to how it is so nearly Christmas (2.5 working days left to go – WOOHOO!). I was away for the first week of December and I kind of forgot things like Christmas were happening because I had my holiday to get through first. On the plus side, I’m not the only hopelessly disorganised person in my life as discussions over the past week have shown and I think after several chaotic lunch breaks charging about the metrop I am pretty much sorted and ready to leave for the wilds of Rural Derbyshire on Thursday.

Berlin, incidentally, was ace – I may even find words about it once I’ve got back to Rural Derbyshire and have time to stop and think.

This weekend I dashed from one harebrained attempt at organisation to another, thwarted somewhat by accidentally sleeping in until almost lunchtime on Saturday and thereby losing half the day. I wrote cards, wrapped presents, cleaned, cleaned some more, went to the supermarket TWICE, went out to visit friends and – perhaps most crucially if you’re in my office this morning – I made cake (and had to clean the kitchen three times as I went along, so more cleaning).

My default setting in life is pathologically lazy and the prospect of sitting down and writing Christmas cards to everyone at work (it’s a small organisation) fills me with dread as I attempt to negotiate the most political of minefields. Last year I realised there was an easier solution: cake. So that was that, I took to the kitchen yesterday and baked as though my life depended on it. Like a less bearded version of Father Christmas, I’ve made a few colleagues’ wishes come true this morning…

Yep, I love working with me too...

Yep, I love working with me too…

More crucially, perhaps, I have only one ballet class left before Christmas! To be perfectly honest, when I look back to last Christmas when I didn’t care if I never took another class again, it seems a little surreal. The break was the right thing to take and I think my sense of perspective about where ballet fits into my life is a lot healthier now. I dance up to four evenings a week in classes I kind of wish I’d found earlier, but hey ho that’s all water under the bridge. Three of my classes kick my butt seriously, and one is fractionally more sedate where I have more time to stop, think, focus and work on things like technique, placement and the whys but even occasionally (when I’m least expecting it) that class will turn round and kick my butt too. It’s a good balance of classes with a good balance of teachers and I can’t wait to get back to it all in the New Year…

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Filed under baking and mixing and kitchen stuff, I dance (not by Toyota)

Fresca e nuova: from small town France to the Royal Albert Hall

If Katarina Witt and Idina Menzel happened to have some kind of secret love child, it would look somewhat like Laura Pausini. It wouldn’t sound like Laura Pausini because the only person who sounds like Laura Pausini is Laura Pausini. But anyway, I digress.

A little over a decade ago, as a wide eyed bright young thing I hauled an enormous suitcase full of my life off to small town France for what my alma mater lovingly referred to as an ‘Integrated Year Abroad’ (more generally known as the ‘IYA’ or ‘third year’ or simply ‘that year I wrote a blinding dissertation, got a first for it and it didn’t count’). Whichever way we look at it, I spent several months in small town France blagging my way through teaching English to a bunch of somewhat unco-operative teenagers. Any pretence I’d had of wanting to teach as a career up to that point was well and truly blown out of the water in that period of my life as I reached the (probably for the best) conclusion that I was not destined for this vocation. Anyway, I digress again.

One of the (many) things I did on my IYA (that did not involve flinging myself down a mountain learning to ski or twisting myself into yoga positions I struggled to manage ten years ago and certainly couldn’t do now) was to expand my musical horizons. I already knew some French artists courtesy of my penfriend/school exchange partner – Renaud, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Téléphone, Noir Désir – but I made it my quest to further this knowledge returning with albums by artists such as Lara Fabien, Lianne Foly, Dionysus and Indochine.

One album I sadly only ever owned on minidisc (coo!) which was a compilation of songs released to coincide with some music awards which I’d copied off my then flatmate. It was a cracking good album featuring, amongst other things, Ronan Keating’s attempts to crack the French market. But there was a cracking good song on there which wasn’t French, it wasn’t English either. It was in Italian by an artist named Laura Pausini. The song? E ritorna da te. It didn’t matter that this wasn’t a language I understood, hers was a voice that made me stop and listen.

I’ve always been attracted to strong female voices – Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Elkie Brooks, Ruthie Henshall, Pink – the ones that can tell a hundred stories and emotions in one note. I mentally added Laura to the list and then sort of forgot. Somewhere along the way from my now housemate I wound up with an album of Laura’s music, lost it when my old laptop fried and never got round to reborrowing it.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, last night Laura Pausini played the Royal Albert Hall and it was incredible. I went in with no preconceptions, no real notion of what to expect (other than I’d quite like her to sing E ritorna da te, which she did and it was sublime). That didn’t matter as soon as we arrived we found ourselves caught up on a wave of ‘Laura love’ from the rest of the audience. A little Wiki-ing last night explains the wide variety of flags swathed across the audience as she’s recorded in various romance languages.

It didn’t matter that my Italian learning stalled halfway through my first year at university and I didn’t understand a word of what she was singing. I was watching a woman whose voice tells the story, whose emotions are etched on her face because she’s feeling everything she’s singing. And she really knows how to work an audience to the point that you can’t help but get caught up and swept along with her. She swung her way through a few genres not staying pigeonholed in one area for more than a few songs. And in between she talked, switching between Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese effortlessly; thanking everybody, being overwhelmed and overexcited by playing the Albert Hall, vaguely referencing her career. I could’ve watched all night.

Instead I’m spending large parts of today just wanting to burst into E ritorno da te but am thwarted by only knowing about four disjointed lines from the song. I should probably just tell you all to go and get Laura Pausini in your ears RIGHT NOW.

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Filed under random stuff and nonsense

“I hung one more year on the line…”

To be perfectly frank, this week my mood has matched the weather: grey, unpredictable and a bit miserable. Malaise, truly you have been my great friend this week – apart from the day where I had a hangover (not a sicky hangover, not a buckethead hangover but one of those hangovers where mere existence is too much like hard work). It’s done nothing but rain for weeks and, clearly, it’s really starting to get under my skin. It’s generally been a funny kind of a week all round – I’m not sure how much of that to attribute to my weather matching mood or to the fact that today I got another year older.

My funny old week has included a hideous late meeting at work, too much work and no motivation equating to not really getting anything done, upping my ballet classes back to two, booking my first tap class in twenty years (eep!), discovering a GIANT hole in the sole of my new ballet shoes in the second wear, one super smashing wine fuelled evening with some lovely pals and possibly the loveliest compliment ever about my ballet (which is still giving me the fuzzies a few days later even though I am totally convinced my teacher is clearly delusional for thinking it in the first instance, see: what’s so wrong with being good?).

Things are a little brighter today: my Crackberry is constantly flashing with love, I have a desk covered in cards from my colleagues, I’ve made cake (and therefore everyone loves me) and I had a smashing phone chat with my mother (who I’d had to phone back to apologise for being short with her when she’d phoned me as I was getting off the train and was tangled in headphones and bag straps). I have a day to survive in the office and an evening with the small people then I have to await the Tesco man bringing my gin so I can celebrate properly tomorrow. It could be worse – at least I’m not disinterested in my birthday this year (in fairness I think I only was last year because I’d been celebrating for about three weeks beforehand so when it finally rolled round I’d had enough).

Anyway, the Work Birthday Law is when it’s your birthday you bring in cake. Of course, when you’re me this is an excuse to take to the kitchen and bake ALL OF THE CAKE. I maintain that there is no cake that cannot be improved by the addition of chocolate, fortunately the Green and Black’s book agrees with me on this. One chocolate lemon drizzle, one chocolate ginger and a dozen cupcakes later I had one happy housemate licking the bowl last night and many happy colleagues this morning…


Filed under baking and mixing and kitchen stuff, I dance (not by Toyota)

In no particular order/musings of the balletic and not so variety…

1. Who decided a pas de chat should be called a pas de chat? I mean, has anyone ever seen a cat jump like that or did I just luck out with a childhood pet who generally didn’t go in for the whole ‘movement’ thing anyway?
2. Let’s take a moment to talk about my relevé to passé yesterday because it was totally and utterly bob on and I’m still slightly in shock. I mean straight up there, everything right, hand straight off the barre and hold for the full 16 counts. It felt incredible. I even came down properly.
3. Then we gloss over the rest of class which was, essentially, a fight against myself. Bad, bad, bad weight placing in pirouettes – too far back and too far over, couldn’t right myself. Clumpy landing in petits assemblés because my elevation was somewhat non est, did manage to find enough legs to work out the first part of the EE though…
4. Do ballet teachers have some kind of communal brain cell? There are things you find yourself thinking are particular to one class/teacher and then ‘kaboom’ it turns up in a different one. Quite confusing, momentarily disconcerting.
5. The clog dance from Fille has been stuck in my head since Sunday.
6. I finished knitting myself a pair of ‘glittens’* yesterday. I managed to knit myself two right ones. If I were less lazy I’d rip the mitten top off one of them and knit it back on the other side but… I kinda like the quirk of having to wear one backwards. I’ve cast on a new pair, they’re going to have gorgeous cabled cuffs rather than boring 2×2 rib.
7. I took class without legwarmers yesterday. It was weird. I normally only wear them for barre until my ankles warm up and decide to play ball a bit more but for some reason I’d chucked in my epic thigh high ones and… well, really not the class you need legwarmers like that in. I’d’ve chucked them off after tendus if I’d had them on.
8. I have bought cardigan yarn for my wrap cardigan. And I have made DECISIONS about it. It is going to be a soft pale grey with bits of Fair Isle in red and turquoise (both of which I’d bought to make myself some stripy gloves but I feel they will be better served here). I spent some time last week doodling pretty geometric designs** to try and chart. I’m also going to try and knock up the entire pattern myself, eep! My lovely Mutti is coming to stay this weekend so she’s going to get roped in to take ALL OF THE MEASUREMENTS. I’m even going to knit a tension square. I believe I may actually be taking this seriously.
9. The top of my spine feels all gnarled and twisty horrible and I feel like I’m at about twenty seven different angles. Should probably ring my GP to make sure they’ve done my physio referral on that note and maybe talk about flu jabs. No enthusiasm here for either of those.
10. Probably there isn’t a tenth point. I just like multiples of five.

Pas de chat: see, cats don't jump like that

Glittens: nifty

*Glittens – fingerless gloves with mitten tops. I don’t like having the tips of my fingers covered.
**I am obsessed with one particular square on the blanket I made for my housemate which is a snowflake/star design. This is influencing my thinking on the Fair Isle front and I may have to spend some time communing with my colourwork stitch dictionary.


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

Lost in translation/Tendu is as tendu does…

My housemate has left a copy of the freebie Russian paper out on the kitchen table. This morning in my somewhat bleary eyed, terribly vague state I mistook it for the local paper and misread their front page headline as ‘Crematorium, bitches!’*. It clearly didn’t say that, it said something probably far more profound in Russian but that was what my brain processed the Cyrillic script as saying. It was entirely not reminiscent of the occasion at university on which my best friend rambled away at me in Finnish about something and I turned round and answered her in English because I hadn’t entirely registered she wasn’t speaking English but I had, oddly, perfectly understood what she’d been saying.

There is a point to this… vaguely. Probably not, it’s probably likely to be a series of fractionally disjointed thoughts but… shh.

Ballet is, as the amazing Adult Beginner terms it, ‘French French Frenchity French French’. But here’s the thing, ‘ballet French’ and ‘French French’ are two slightly different things.

I still want to yell ‘hunted’ when we get asked what ‘chassé’ means. It doesn’t mean that in ballet.

When I was a kid, ballet was just ‘words’. Words in French, but words nonetheless. I knew pliés were about bending and tendus were about pointing and ‘something de bras’ was to do with waving our arms around and sautés were jumping. But actually, doing strict RAD classes they always were in the same order anyway so the words didn’t necessarily ever have to translate other than knowing which exercise came where. Word.

It’s less ‘just words’ now but still sporadically confusing because ‘ballet French’ is not always the ‘French French’ I read at university. It’s not the French I can argue quite eloquently in to explain why we should continue to commemorate the Holocaust and it’s not the French I can use to bluff my way through explaining the meaning of a Matisse painting. It’s not the French of the dreaded ‘Quinze joyes de mariage’ that I picked apart for historical linguistics or the French that made me want to throw my copy of Manon Lescaut to the seagulls.

But the thing is, see, ballet is French is French is French wherever you go. There will always be pliés and rondes de jambes and sautés in any given class. And I like that. It’s a kind of nice notion to think that wherever I went in the world I could rock on up to class and sort of know what was going on. I mean not necessarily the gumpf around the exercises but tendu is as tendu does, right? Right.

Yeah. Or something.


*This is probably second only to the time I was visiting my parentals and misread the front page of the local newspaper as ‘Man Opens Door To Flat’ and thought it was a slow news week even for Rural Derbyshire… it did, in fact, say ‘man stabbed as he opens door to flat’ but I clearly skipped the key words here.


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