Saturday, 30 April 2011

An embarrassment of riches

A trip to Norwich followed by an afternoon shopping in Market Harborough (as upmarket as Leicestershire gets: sample overheard dialogue "I'd rather [long a on the rather] go to Waitrose") has supplied me with an embarrassment of riches.

I really liked The Book Hive bookshop in Norwich, which I left a few pounds lighter.  There were some gems to be found in the charity shops too.  Then Quinns Bookshop in Harborough today provided me with the perfect birthday present for a small aquaintance of mine.

One of these books isn't for me: can you guess which?!

Also found in a charity shop was this adorable teacup and saucer for only £1.  I might use for supping tea with my little finger sticking out, or I might make a teacup candle out of it.

I have been searching for the right herb planter and tray for my kitchen windowsill.  My joy in stumbling across this cream enamel one in a shop in Harborough today was slightly disproportionate.  But it matches my kitchen perfectly and, more importantly, fits the narrow windowsill. 

Finally I bought a clematis from the market which is now happily climbing my previously empty trellis.  Bizarrely, the hybrid shares a - fairly unusual - name with one of my teaching colleagues.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A Record Store Day-inspired lust list

I missed Record Store Day this year because I was on top of a hill in North Yorkshire, but I have fond memories of hanging out in Rockaboom in Leicester last Record Store Day, snapping up some bargains (Midlake, Eels and Micachu & The Shapes, if memory serves me correctly).

I have long been of the opinion that music is not just for listening to.  I have framed song lyrics scattered around the house, band t-shirts galore in my wardrobe and my favourite gift in recent years was this photographic print from Etsy.

Found on All Things Original recently was this fabulous mixtape tea towel.

And also on the mixtape theme is this iPhone case from Crank Cases' Etsy shop.  I need!

Finally, there are numerous online how-to guides about making a bowl out of a vinyl record and I've been meaning to give it a go for a while.  But after seeing this bowl from Spinning Hat I fear I might just cave in and buy one.  After all, I will never achieve such perfect roundness in a homemade one.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Don't forget the songs that made you cry

There was a great feature in the Guardian on Friday, prompted by Nick Clegg's admission that he cries when he listens to music (and not about dismantling the NHS, betraying students or making such swingeing cuts that Thatcher looks like a socialist in comparison?), about songs that make people cry. There is a great link to a Spotify playlist complied by readers, which has some absolute gems on (listen with tissues handy). It got me to thinking about what would be on my list and, not suprisingly for someone who cries at Glee most weeks, it didn't take long.

Last Goodbye - Jeff Buckley
I was 21 and in the most horrendously dysfunctional relationship. Things had fallen apart spectacularly and although he treated me like shit, I still adored him. We lay in bed the night we finally knew it was over, listening to Grace. Quite why I thought one of the most heartbreaking albums ever recorded would help during our heartbreak, I don't know. The lyrics to Last Goodbye (really, the clue is in the title) seemed to perfectly sum up how we both felt and we wept. I haven't listened to it since.

Changes - Will Young
Driving to work one morning I heard this on the radio and started crying. I was feeling lost, directionless, as if my life had somehow run away from me and I couldn't effect the changes I needed, and the words connected deeply with me. "Hope my life changes, gets alright somehow...I just need a break, a little one".

I watched the South Bank Show special about Will Young (I'm an unashamed fan) and he talked about how he wrote the song at a really crappy point in his life, which you can hear in the way his voice catches slightly on the first chorus. I hear this on the way to work occasionally (I think it's on the playlist for my local student radio station) and it still makes me tear up. And I'm still waiting for changes.

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
The joint-national anthem of South Africa since 1994, this can reduce me to mush in seconds. Partly it's because it's a beautiful tune that move even the most hardened of hearts. But mainly because, as the grandaughter of South African anti-apartheid activitists (although my parents arrived in the UK the year before I was born) I've always felt close ties to the country and had a particular interest in the struggle for equality, and the anti-apartheid movement for whom this was the unofficial anthem, long before the democratic elections took place in '94.

Why don't you...?

After a disastrous past week I hadn't realised how grumpy and down I was until I began feeling better. The question of how to pay for my new boiler is still weighing heavy on my mind, but otherwise everything looks a bit brighter. Partly this is because every afternoon this week, instead of finishing school and coming home to veg out with a book or stare at the TV, I've actually done something instead.

Monday was a lovely meal at a friend's house (with delicious couscous & roast veg - recipe to come). Tuesday I went to pick up the aforementioned dream dress, made a yummy salad nicoise, planted up four pots for the patio and finally finished off the registration for my MA course. This afternoon I've managed two hanging baskets and another couple of pots of herbs and am now attempting to tidy up my iTunes.

So it turns out the theme tune to Why Don't You? had the right idea all those years ago. You really will feel better if you "turn off your TV and go and do something more interesting instead".