Saturday, 27 February 2016

Dainty, Light and Graceful as a Ballerina

When I was just a little girl, I remember wanting to have ballet lessons.  It didn't happen but I do remember borrowing a library book and learning about the 5 positions for feet and arms.  Once I got those under control, I didn't know where to take it next so I became more interested in roller skates.  If the internet had been around in those days, I probably would have learnt online.

But never say never, and here I am many years later, taking up ballet in my middle age.  As I've got older I've noticed loss of flexibility, strength, agility, posture and balance and I don't like it so I'm attempting to regain some of these qualities with ballet fitness classes and yoga. 

I thought the ballet would be easy - surely it can't be that difficult to stand up straight, point a toe and lift your arms in the air and stay in that position for a short while - how wrong could I be!  But it's fun and I enjoy the feeling of my body being put through its paces and getting stronger, and there's a nice atmosphere in the class.

I can't stop thoughts springing to mind when I'm doing it of the comedy sketch featuring Dawn French and Darcy Bussell (I think Dawn was trying to be Darcy's mirror image).  Its a shame I can't share a link here because its not available.  Instead - here's a lovely little trailer for Swan Lake.

Swan Lake

Friday, 19 February 2016

Cold Enough For Penguins In Our House

Why is it that whenever we're going through the coldest snap of the year, our boiler packs up, which means no heating or hot water. That's what happened this week and so into the cupboards we delved for the extra thermal layers (and in Mr Cocopopia's case, a woolly beanie hat too).

It is annoying and we do have to adapt our plans a little, but at the same time it does put things into perspective and makes us appreciate some of things we take for granted a little more - there's always a lesson or two to be learned when having to go back to basics.  Another thing we've learnt is that cats are better than hot water bottles any day (and I'm sure its the same with dogs).  

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Thinking About Future Adventures

A full size caravan made out of Lego bricks by Bright Bricks in Bordon, Hampshire, which is a Guinness World record and took nearly 3 months to make will be on display at the Telegraph Outdoor & Adventure Travel show from 11th - 14th February.

At the week-end we popped on a train up to London to visit the Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show, combined with the Bike Show.  It was an interesting event and there was plenty to see and lots of information to be gained.  The above life-sized caravan was pretty impressive, built entirely out of Lego bricks and took 3 months to build. Its the sort of cute little caravan I'd like to go travelling with (but probably made from something more substantial than Lego bricks).

We've been thinking about visiting North Wales later in the year and knew there was plenty of beautiful scenery and outdoor activities to do there, but were delighted to find that there is even more going on now than we thought, as North Wales seems to be turning itself into the Adventure capital of the UK.  Mr Cocopopia posed for a photo against the background of Velocity which is the longest zip wire in Europe and the fastest in the world.  If we are feeling brave enough, we may just give it a go ...

A large part of the exhibition space was taken up by the Bike Show, covering all aspects of bike culture and new technologies.  There was a speakers' theatre with various talks throughout the day and we were lucky enough to be able to catch cycling heroes Sir Chris Hoy and Chris Boardman, who were both fascinating to listen to.

We didn't specifically walk around looking for freebies, but various items were handed to us as we walked around.  These are just a few items we found in our bags, once we got home (minus the 2 bottles of coconut and peppermint water we drank whilst we were there - sounds a bit odd but they were surprisingly refreshing!).

Before catching the train back home at London Bridge, we took a quick stroll to the river Thames, which was looking very grey and wintery.

Across the Thames from London Bridge

Outdoor Cafe on the Thames - too cold for sitting outside

We needed the fuel of a hot drink before heading home, and as it was too cold and damp to sit outside, we found a cosy cafe.  I was very content with my Baileys Latte, but Mr Cocopopia was disappointed with the size of the cake that accompanied his coffee.  But I told him it was a very special cake, as (if you can see what I can see) it had the face of Bob Marley smiling back at him ...

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Beachcombing for Treasures

Since the beginning of December, here in the UK, we've experienced the delights of storms Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude, Henry and Imogen (in fact as I write this, Imogen, with her 80 mph winds, is currently knocking on the windows and rattling the roof, which is a little unsettling).  The next one will be Jake, but hopefully he's not due on these shores just yet.

If you're into beach combing, as I am, then the best time to go is following a storm when the waves churn up and bring in a greater variety of bits and pieces (some of them good, some of them not so good), depositing them on the tide line where the sea reaches the farthest in inland before turning around and going out again.

There's always plenty to see from a wildlife point of view.  You can't miss the cuttlefish bones because they are white and stand out against the brown pebbles.  After a storm they appear to be everywhere - and to think that people pay good money for these in the pet shop because they are a good source of calcium for birds and reptiles (although when I had the chickens they weren't interested).  You can also spot the egg cases from skates and sharks - also known as mermaid's purses (I prefer that name).  Fortunately the baby creatures have long left their temporary home by the time the case hits the beach and are swimming happily in the sea.

The range of shells washed up become much more interesting, which makes me wonder how far they have travelled.  Occasionally we've had turtles washed up on the south coast which have travelled all the way from the south east of the USA, so anything's possible.  I think one day I'd like to find a message in a bottle ....

From a creative point of view, the seashore provides interesting colour palettes which seem to change with the seasons.  In the winter there'll be loads of dark greens and browns from the soaked seaweed, along with flecks of colour from the shells and bits of old fishermen's rope.  But in the summer, with the lighter skies and the drier beach, the colours became much lighter and more golden - mother nature is a great source of inspiration when it comes to mixing colours.

Most of all, I'd really like to find some interesting pieces of coloured sea glass for jewellery making.  So far, I've been unsuccessful but I'll keep looking and, in the meantime, I can use the interesting shells as props for photographing my jewellery pieces.

Monday, 8 February 2016

A Cosy Cafe

Tom Foolery Coffee Company

We set out from home for a walk on the beach at the week-end and when we left the house, we were wearing sunglasses but this was not to last.  The beach is a good half an hour walk away and shortly after we arrived at the beach, we spotted a huge grey cloud in the distance heading our way.  We knew we were in the line of fire and had time to dash to a line of houses along the beach to shelter by one of the walls.  It did make a difference but we were feeling a bit cold and wet and headed for one of the cafes in town - we don't have that many shops but we are well provided for with cafes and they are always popular.

One of our favourites is the Tom Foolery Coffee Company because its brown tones of wooden floorboards, raw brick walls and leather sofas make you feel cosy and looked after.  They are also bike friendly and welcome many of the cyclists who pass through the town on one of the various cycle routes either along the sea front or on the South Downs nearby.  There's even a sculpture of a mermaid riding a bike, emerging from one of the walls

I always like the music in there too and whenever I visit, it seems to have a bit of a 1980's, slightly New Yorky kind of vibe.

Tucked away in the corner at the back of the cafe is a noticeboard of local events.

I was amazed by some of the events going on in our little town that I didn't even know about, such as the fortnightly pub based craft sessions for local witches and the local laughter yoga class - maybe I should be thinking about giving some of these a go?