tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2017-02-06 08:51 pm

Things I have done in 2017

1. Break the ice and go for a swim (January with Nick, in the wilderness north of Kurravaara in Arctic Sweden. We had to saw through 0.5m ice, the air temperature was -6C and the water about 1C.)
2. Help to build and then sleep inside an igloo (February with Nick, near Kiruna in Arctic Sweden. It was technically a quinzee, and I called it the Igelkottage.)
3. Correct a grocer's apostrophe on a public sign (April, Seashells Tearoom, Starcross - Teas and Cakes, not Tea's and Cake's!)
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2016-12-27 06:51 pm

My wild swims

I came to wild swimming kinda late, but here's some of the places I've gone swimming:
The sea at St Malo, fully clothed (1992)
A billabong in Australia (1995)
Hampstead Ponds
Skinny dipping in the Danube, Vienna (August 2012)
Kuang Si Falls, Laos (October 2013)
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam (November 2013)
Floating down the River Kwai with lifesavers, Thailand (November 2013)
Sea around Britain from Cornwall to the Orkneys, including a Christmas Day swim (2014), and a swim through Durdle Door (2014)
Skinny dips in Buckstones Jum and Grasmere in the Lake Dictrict (2014)
Skinny dipping in Llyn Idwal, Snowdonia (2014)
Swimming with dolphins and turtles in Hawai'i, plenty of waterfall showers and a lovely skinny dip in Halape (2015)
Iya River, Shikoku, Japan (April 2016)
Oslo fjord, Norway (October 2016)
Under a waterfall and in a river canyon on Flores in the Azores, Portugal (November 2016)
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2016-12-27 06:37 pm

Hikes I have done

My multi-day hikes:
Inca Trail (4 days, January 2004)
Ridgeway (6 days, August 2010)
Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals, Iceland (8 days, September 2011)
Peddar's Way and the Norfolk Coast Path (8 days, May 2013)
Kalalau Trail (2 days, June 2015)
Yakushima (4 days, April 2016)
South Downs Way (6 days, September 2016)

Mountains and big hills:
Ben Nevis
Scafell Pike (twice)
Snowdon (twice)
All the English 3000s
All the Welsh 3000s
The Grouse Grind (Vancouver)
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2016-12-27 06:15 pm

2016 review

In 2016, I took an amazing trip to Japan, finally got to the Orkneys, hiked another of the National Trails and took a trip to the tropical Azores. I didn't actually cross off many things on my list, though, so next year I'm going to aim for an average of one per month again. I'm also going to try to fit in more learning and creative goals, not just all travel goals!

1. Visit Japan, in spring, to see the sakura (April and May)
2. Walk over a rope bridge across a ravine (April, the Iya Valley vine bridge, Shikoku, Japan)
3. Walk in a bamboo forest (April and May in Arashiyama, Japan and also 2013 in Vietnam)
4. Visit Sherwood Forest (September with Mum)
5. The Orkney Islands, including Skara Brae (September with Mum)
6. Abseil (November, canyoning in the Azores, abseiled down 10m and 20m waterfalls)
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2015-12-14 11:55 am

Countries I have visited

I do waver between feeling grateful to have been able to visit so many wonderful and unique countries, and frustration that I've only visited a tiny fraction of the world and a burning desire to get out there and experience more.

Europe:
France (Paris, several times, Jan 2013, St Malo, 1992, and a couple of other places)
Germany (Berlin, Aug 2012)
Italy (Venice, Dec 2014)
Spain (Andalucia, ~2006)
Netherlands (Amsterdam Apr 2011, Feb 2012, Leiden and the coast)
Belgium (Bruges, Dec 2012)
Switzerland (Geneva, 2007)
Sweden (Stockholm, Kiruna and Hven, Feb 2014)
Iceland (a round trip of the country, Aug-Sept 2011)
Denmark (Copenhagen, 2010)
Norway (Oslo, Oct 2016)
Austria (Vienna, Aug 2012)
Hungary (Budapest, Dec 2014)
Czech Republic (Prague, Feb 2014)
Croatia (Rovinj, 2003)
Portugal (Flores and Sao Miguel in the Azores, Nov 2016)

Africa:
Zambia (Victoria Falls and the countryside, 2001)
Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls and the countryside, 2001)

Asia:
India (New Delhi, 1995)
Laos (Luang Prabang, Oct 2013)
Vietnam (Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Saigon, Halong Bay and the countryside, Oct-Nov 2013)
Cambodia (Angkor Wat, Nov 2013)
Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the countryside, Nov 2013)
Japan (Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu and Yakushima, Apr-May 2016)
Taiwan (Taipei and surroundings, May 2016)

Australasia:
Australia (Sydney, Cairns and Darwin, 1995)
New Zealand (North Island trip including Auckland and the countryside, 1995)

North America:
Canada (Victoria, Tofino, Vancouver and Ottawa)
US (Hawai'i Nov-Dec 2009, May 2011 and Jan-Oct 2015, New Mexico, Seattle, Chicago)

South America:
Chile (Santiago, La Serena and the Atacama Desert, 2003, 2010)
Peru (trip around the country, 2003)
Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, 2008)

Total: 33 countries (including UK) out of 197
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2015-05-19 01:52 am

2015

Ending up in Hawai'i on 1 January this year, I decided right from the start that this was enough excitement and challenge, and that I wouldn't push myself to do Life List things to any particular schedule, though I would of course continue to seek out opportunities wherever possible. Here are the things from my list that I achieved in 2015:

1. Swim with dolphins (May, Nick and I swam out into the bay, and a pod of wild dolphins surrounded us, skimming and diving and sweeping around. I also swam with them later in the year with Tim, and then went kayaking and swimming with them alone)


Other great things I have done in Hawai'i:
* Stayed in a cabin in Haleakala crater, where Nick and I got engaged
* Saw a volcano erupt, the lava lake in Halema'uma'u rose until it was visible for the first time in seven years, and we got covered in ash and Pele's hair
* Saw honu (sea turtles), nene, dancing albatrosses, an io, naia (dolphins), whales, coqui frogs, mongeese, wild pigs, wild horses and a lot of geckos
* Took part in an outrigger canoe race
* Learned some taiko drumming, and watched lots of incredible taiko drumming
* Played in the snow on Mauna Kea
* Swam in secluded waterfall pools
* Played at jousting in a bamboo forest
* Enjoyed outside showers under the stars
* Took a helicopter tour over the breathtaking valleys and waterfalls of Kauai
* Jumped into a pool in a freshwater cave and swam into the darkness
* Hiked across a lava field and saw a rainbow in a volcanic crater
* Watched a sunset on the beach from South Pacific
* Launched a lantern at Lantern Floating Hawaii
* Attended the hoike at Merrie Monarch, where a lovely lady gave me a freshly-made lei
* Learned to make ti leaf leis and coconut leaf grasshoppers and fish
* Hiked the Kalalau trail along the beautiful Na Pali coast
* Hiked the Muliwai trail and camped in the amazing Waimanu Valley
* Canoed far outside the Hilo sea wall and jumped into the sea
* Saw many pink cowboys in the 4th July rodeo in Waimea, and then sat on the edge of Hilo sea wall as fireworks went off over the bay
* Saw an electric storm light up the floating lantern ceremony in Kona
* Ran around crazily as thousands of orchids fell from a helicopter into Queen Liliuokalani Gardens
* Watched the sunrise from Haleakala and the sunset from Mauna Kea
* Went sea kayaking by myself on Moloka'i and found my own little deserted beach
* Climbed from the Moloka'i coast right up to the summit and walked the beautiful Pepe'opae bog trail
* Ate lilikoi, starfruit and mountain apples straight from the trees, and picked and tried so many more exotic fruits
* Saw Mauna Kea, Haleakala and Molokini from the air while flying between islands in the lovely Mokulele prop planes
* Drove some amazing and beautiful roads around gorges such as the road to Hana and West Maui
* Learned some hula dancing and danced under the stars in the edge of the sea on my little private beach on Moloka'i, and danced for Pele overlooking Halema'uma'u
* Attended many bon dances during the bon dance season and felt welcome
* Walked many of the trails in the stunning Waimea Canyon
* Climbed up a hill in the Iau Valley and saw the most incredible moutainous green all around
* Walked all the way down to Halape in one day, and went skinny dipping in the clear turquoise bays surrounded by white sand and palm trees
* Learned some of the Hawaiian star lines, and happily star-gazed under the most incredible skies
* Listened to the civil defense messages on the radio warning me of flash floods, shark sightings, lava flows, hurricanes, and a tsunami
* Enjoyed many many hikes in the beautiful Volcano National Park
* Made my home in the beautiful town of Volcano with its friendly people and lovely Sunday morning farmer's market
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2014-03-02 01:17 pm

2014 in action

January

  • Tried ice-sculpting at a festival in London.
  • Went to Kew After Dark with Nick, where the trees were lit up and there was a fibonacci pattern of flaming torches.


February

  • Visited Kiruna in the north of Sweden with Tim for the fieldwork part of our Arctic Science course. I had a wonderful time walking and digging in the snow, making snow angels, taking a real sauna (we spent three periods in the sauna followed by naked rolls in the snow), feeding excitable reindeer and seeing real immaculate dendritic snowflakes. We also visited the biggest underground iron mine in the world, and went husky sledding across a frozen lake with some lovely dogs (I only fell off once when driving). Best of all, we saw the most incredible coronal aurora at Absiko, with green and pink and white and even a little bit of purpley blue.
  • Spent a couple of days in Stockholm, seeing the Vasa, the medieval town of Gamla Stan and Skansen where we fed a sweet little fussy red squirrel who only eats almonds and saw lots of Swedish animals like moose and wolves. We stayed on the Chapman ship, with a porthole looking over the Royal Palace, and I stayed on a Jumbo Jet for a night and walked out along the wing.
  • Spent my birthday with Nick in sunny blue-skied Prague, where we got invited into an underground fairy grotto and had mulled wine, played in a hall of mirrors and had the most delicious chocolate fondue I have ever eaten. We also ate in a cafe frequented by Einstein, saw the astronomical clock and visited Tycho Brahe's grave.
  • Went to Savernake Forest with Mum and Tim on a peaceful sunny day and saw the Queen Oak, the Spider Oak, the Spiral Oak, the White Road Oak, Big Belly Oak, Old Paunchy and the Cathedral Oak. On the way home we saw a fantastically bright rainbow.
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2014-03-02 12:54 am

2014 life list

1. Go to a bed showroom and try out the beds by cuddling on them (January)
2. Learn the Greek alphabet (January)
3. Be North of the Arctic Circle (February, Arctic Science trip to Kiruna)
4. Have a sauna and jump in the snow afterwards (February in Kiruna)
5. Visit Prague in the Czech Republic (February 12-14 with Nick)
6. Make and use a pinhole camera (March)
7. Learn at least three poems by heart (April - Jabberwocky by Lewis Caroll, Sea Fever by John Masefield and The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost)
8. Make paper (May)
9. Go wild swimming (June was when I counted this as done, as previously I'd only been wild swimming in a pool in Laos, the River Kwai and a billabong in Australia. I finally swam in Buckstones Jum and Grasmere in the Lakes in June, then Llyn Idwal in Snowdonia in July)
10. Slice open a watermelon as big as my torso with a machete and have a watermelon party (July, Tim's birthday - I technically used a billhook, but I'm counting it! The melon weighed 13kg)
11. Play Calvinball (August, with Nick and Tim)
12. Swim through Durdle Door (September with Tim - we swam once through and back, then we did it again and went round the outside of the arch)
13. Make chocolate from raw cocoa beans (October with Nick, and it tasted pretty good!)
14. Make a coke and mentos fountain (November with Tim)
15. Visit Venice (December with Nick)
16. Go swimming in the sea on Christmas Day, complete with Santa hat or reindeer antlers (December with Mum at Durdle Door)
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2014-03-02 12:25 am

2013 Round-up

January: Saw 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Prince Charles (what the hell?!); Trip to Paris with Nick to see an aboriginal art exhibition at the Musée de Quai Branly and put a lock on the Pont des Artes; spent a great snowy weekend in a huge house in Bath with Tim and Pete and Matt playing hide-and-seek, making snow sculptures and visiting the spa.
February: Got soaked in the Rain Room art installation at the Barbican; spent a lot of time in the Mariko Mori art exhibition at the RA; had a karaoke birthday.
March: Nick and I both got flu and looked after each other; walked part of the Green Chain walk to the Thames Barrier in the snow; joined up all Nick's freckles with a marker pen; made our own Easter eggs.
April: Gorgeous long weekend in York; spent a whole day barefoot.
May: Lovely long weekend in Whitstable with Nick; picnics in blossomy Green Park and Kew Gardens; walked Peddar's Way and the beautiful, wild Norfolk Coast Path with Tim, with Mum joining us for the last few days.
June: scored a KOALAS sign from London Zoo; visited Chislehurst caves and happened to get a private tour; saw the awesome Stomp; and had a wonderful picnic breakfast in Green Park.
July: Private screening of Serenity on the big video screen at the RAS; paper plane throwing competition; slept out in a hammock; slept out on the roof; roller disco!
August: finished the pizza oven and had a pizza party; bumped into Ann and David at Kew Gardens.
September: Went Segwaying in the forest; visited Battersea Power Station with Open House; quit my job.
October: Fed giraffes in London Zoo; saw and handled some great artifacts from the RAS such as Herschel's notebook; went to Laos, celebrated Boun Ok Phansa, swam in waterfalls and rode elephants; visited Vietnam and went kayaking in Ha Long Bay.
November: Visited the jungle and temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia; explored Thailand including floating down the River Kwai in a rubber ring and celebrating Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai.
December: Met and held my new niece Sophie; spent Christmas Day at a nearly-deserted Avebury with Mum; went to Trafalgar Square with Nick, Tim and Matt to see in the New Year with a bang.

I'm going to go ahead and call that a great year.
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2013-01-27 05:22 am

2013 life list

1. Eat warm raclette cheese (January, Paris)
2. Put a padlock on the Pont Des Artes in Paris (January, with Nick)
3. Play hide and seek as a grown-up (January, at Elton House in Bath with Pete, Matt and Tim)
4. Have a bath in Bath (January, at dusk with snow on the roofs)
5. Sing karaoke (February, with Nick, Tim, Pete and Matt)
6. Join someone's freckles up with a marker pen (March, Nick was the victim)
7. Spend a whole day barefoot (April)
8. Walk Peddar's Way and the Norfolk Coast Path (May, with Tim)
9. Visit Holkham beach in Norfolk (May)
10. Find a four leaf clover (May)
11. Eat a PBJ (May)
12. Have a picnic breakfast (June)
13. Have a paper plane throwing competition (July)
14. Sleep in a hammock (July)
15. Sleep on the roof (July)
16. Go to the roller disco (July)
17. Make pizza in a homemade pizza oven (August)
18. Ride a segway (September)
19. Shower under a waterfall (October, Kuang Si Falls, Laos)
20. Ride an elephant (October in Laos and November in Thailand)
21. Try sea kayaking (October, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam)
22. Visit Vietnam (October-November)
23. Visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia (November)
24. Hold a baby (December)
25. Listen to the shipping forecast on a stormy night (December)
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2013-01-01 11:59 pm

Bring on 2013

Hello 2013!

My resolutions for this year are:
1. Continue doing at least one thing from my life list each month.
2. Change jobs.
3. Get into doing some kind of regular exercise again (aerobic plus something like pilates or yoga would be ideal).
4. Go on a big holiday.
5. Don't worry!
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2013-01-01 11:57 pm

Round-up of 2012

January
I started the year with Nick, kissing on top of Temple Hill and looking at the fireworks across London and the waves of fire lanterns. Later that day, we went into London and strolled in St James' Park in the pouring rain, snuggling under a hastily-bought umbrella and smiling as a squirrel climbed up my leg.

A couple of weeks later, waking on a sunny Saturday, we decided to take a trip to Whitstable. We squeezed through squeeze-gut alley, basked in the chilly sunshine on the beach, I skimmed my first ever stone, and we froze our toes paddling in the sea. To warm up, we went into a cosy-looking restaurant called Samphire and had some delicious grub while I snuggled in a tiny alcove filled with bright cushions. Heading back out to the beach late in the afternoon, dusk was falling on a perfect day and we huddled up against a groyne and watched as the sun set and the first stars came out before heading home hand-in-hand from the perfect day.

Later that month, Tim and I took a long walk through London, following the path of the buried river Tyburn from Hampstead down to the Thames at Vauxhall and then along to Westminster.

Tim, Pete, Matt and I took our now customary January Landmark Trust holiday at Freston Tower in Suffolk, just a couple of miles away from Pin Mill. The Tower was set away from any other buildings next to the Orwell River, and we enjoyed a fantastic weekend of walking in beautiful countryside, games and tea at the kitchen table, hot water bottles and neck-risking races up the five flights of spiral stairs (Tim won, Pete came second, Matt third, and me last). Tim and I managed to clock up 60 kilometres each on the walks. My favourite place was certainly Pin Mill, which I knew from the Swallows and Amazons books, and was every bit as quaint as I'd hoped, beautiful boats waiting in the sunshine for the tide to rise and lift them from the mud. After searching through the guest book, we managed to find the combination to the padlock on the trapdoor at the top, which let us out onto the roof. Standing there shivering and looking at the stars is my favourite memory of that holiday.


February
On the first day of February, Nick and I braved a bitterly cold night to take a ride on the London Eye. Nick isn't fond of heights and so hadn't yet braved the Eye, whereas I'd only been for a daylight trip. Seeing London spread out below like an electric anthill was lovely, and we enjoyed picking out the landmarks and the dark ribbon of the river.

I had an early Italian birthday meal on the first Saturday in February with all the guys - Nick, Tim, Pete and Matt - and then a walk in Greenwich Park. Later that day, after dark, snow began to fall and Tim and I went for a long ramble over the Heath since I was worried about it melting before morning. Luckily, the next day, it was thick and glorious, and we met first thing with Pete and Matt on the Heath. Pete and I went for a long walk and spotted someone swimming in one of the ponds, while Matt and Tim stayed behind to work on Matt's masterpiece, an enormous Easter Island head more than two metres high. It became quite famous, with flocks of people queueing to have their photos taken with it. They went on to build a tv-and-armchair installation, complete with remote control, and a fabulous sphinx big and strong enough for two to ride. Nick turned up later in the day for a snowball fight and to help me build a snow dalek, and then we all had a late warming lunch.

Sadly, Gran's funeral was the next day, but since she had been old and tired, it was not too gloomy an occasion, and we were mostly able to enjoy the family gathering. I have to admit, I was quite amused at the baby (a cousin's kid) who seemed to take a liking to me, and kept toddling at me and doing dribbly faceplants into my skirt.

Next weekend was still snowy, and Mum, Tim and I took a lovely walk in the New Forest, enjoying the snow and petting a very cute pony.

Nick and I had chocolate fondue for my birthday on the 14th February, sitting on his floor.

The next weekend, I went to Exmouth with my mum to stay with Ann and David. We had a lovely time, walking on the beach, enjoying the promenade lit with coloured lights in the dusk, and generally catching up. We visited A la Ronde, a strange National Trust property decorated with hundreds of shells.

For pancake day, I went all out, buying two squeezy bottles and making elaborately-shaped tiger pancakes in constrasting colours.

I took Nick on a belated birthday treat to Dans le Noir?, an eat-in-the-dark restaurant. It was altogether a very strange and fun experience. We were led by our blind waiter, and told to call his name if we wanted to summon him. We were sat at a long table, in between several other couples. Nick was opposite me, and at first I was quite nervous, and had to hold his hand across the table to steady myself. I was expecting easy finger-food, but we got our first indication of the style when asked what we would like to drink. I asked for water, and was brought a jug and a glass, and cheerfully told "good luck pouring it!" (as it turns out, you can hear how full the glass is). The meal itself was eaten with proper cutley too, although I did tend to rather ignore that and dig in with my hands - and had no embarrassment at all at licking the pudding plate. The surprise three course meal was utterly delicious, though Nick's was more exciting than mine, being meaty - ostrich, shark, wagyu beef. We enjoyed feeding each other bits across the table, having to feel where the fork is, and touching each other's faces, and felt completely comfortable in the dark quite soon. When it was time to leave, two other couples were leaving at the same time, and we were conga-lined up all together to exit, which was enormous fun. Before leaving, we were shown photos of what we had just eaten. The oddest thing of all was that later, we could both remember vision from that evening.

Tim and I found time that month to try out the Ghost Train in London, also known as the Parliamentary Service. This is a train which isn't really a passenger service, but which through outdated agreements, runs once a day. It is not advertised anywhere or displayed on the boards, but passengers can't be stopped from riding it. It was very nearly deserted, and I had a great deal of fun going "Wooooooo" and waving my arms around spookily.

This was also the month in which I finally completed my four-train bingo. I'd been trying for ages to be on Poo Bridge, the footbridge between Finchley Road and West Hampstead, when all four of the tube trains (Jubilee line north and south, and Metropolitan line north and south) went underneath one after the other, and I finally managed it. Two of the train drivers waved at me too!

March

  • Took a trip with Nick to Amsterdam. We went to a gorgeous Ethiopian restaurant with Stu on Fri evening, I went to the beach with Stu on Saturday to fly a stunt kite, then met fuzzie and Bertram for dinner in Leiden on Saturday night, then we had Sunday to ourselves to wander round.
  • March was a super warm month, the first t-shirt day of the year was on 11th March. Tim and I went to Richmond Park and had Mr Whippy ice-cream.
  • Spent a lovely sunny day in Canterbury with Nick.
  • Saw the sun, the moon and Venus at the same time.
  • Went to Horniman museum and touched the lion gently.


April

  • Saw the fritilleries in Magdalen Meadow with Mum.
  • Visited bluebell woods in Lewknor and around West Tytherley.
  • Went to the strange ghost town of Imber with Mum and Tim.
  • Had easter egg hunts with a huge sack of small chocolate eggs from the Netherlands.


May

  • Visited Tyneham ghost town with Mum.
  • Made daisy chains with Nick in St James Park.
  • Walked to Seven Sisters and Beachy Head with Tim. We cut out a boring section of the route by taking off our boots and wading across the river Cuckmere.
  • Made delicious gorse ice-cream.
  • Had a warm summer evening picnic at the pergola with Nick.
  • Visited Battle Abbey with Tim.
  • Enjoyed Eurovision as usual!
  • Saw Madame Butterfly with the ENO with Tim. It was absolutely stunning.


June

  • Got up at 4am on the 6th to see the Transit of Venus with Nick. The clouds cleared just long enough to see the transit.
  • Visited Red House gardens with Nick and led him round with his eyes closed to see if he could smell the difference between different colours of roses.
  • Walked along Southbank with Nick and Tim. We saw Tower Bridge open, the red arrows fly by, played in a big multicoloured sandpit, and had yummy dim sum.
  • Went on a great walk around Guildford with Tim and saw a ruined powder mill.
  • This was the Summer of the Goodyear Blimp - saw it at least three times.
  • Went to Tim's work barbecue to play on the bouncy castle. There was no disappointing gateau for dessert, so we bought one from Sainsburys and ate it walking through Regent's Park.
  • Walked to the White Cliffs of Dover with Tim.


July

  • Went on holiday to Edinburgh and Lindisfarne with Nick. We loved Edinburgh, with its delicious porridge at Centotre, lovely botanic gardens, and best of all, seeing the sunset from Arthur's Seat. Lindisfarne was absolutely beautiful, and we managed to avid the tourists by leaving the town in the daytime and going for long walks around the island. I crossed Pilgrim's Way barefoot, we made rock balance sculptures and ate lots of crab sandwiches and rocky road.
  • Saw the incredible Fire Garden at Stonehenge by Carabosse, once with Mum and the WI, and once with Tim and Mum. The second time, we saw the stars overhead.
  • Singa-longa Lion King (am I the only one who knows the lyrics to the Circle of Life?) and went home on the cable cars across Greenwich.
  • Bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy Stonehenge!
  • Played ping pong in Soho Square on the way to work.
  • Solved the 8 queens problem in about 15 minutes.
  • Started building my pizza oven.
  • Walked the Clarendon Way with Tim and saw bits of Winchester I didn't know existed.


August

  • Visited Danebury Ring with Nick.
  • Set out my hammock in mum's garden and made virgin pina coladas.
  • Saw the women's Olympic swimming in the Serpentine in Hyde Park.
  • Went to the peace pagoda on Nagasaki Day to see the floating lanterns.
  • Had a wonderful day out with Nick where we walked around Kew Gardens, had pho in our favourite Vietnamese restaurant, took the Thames clipper ferry which zoomed under Tower Bridge, then deciding that we were too late to see the fireworks we had planned to, we took a cable car across from Greenwich. We had a pod to ourselves from which we saw the fireworks after all! Waiting for the train home, there was a man with a big afro playing bongos on the platform and we danced.
  • Visited Dungeness and bathed in the sea next to the nuclear power plant.
  • Saw the ISS arc brightly over the sky.
  • Went on holiday to Berlin and Vienna with Nick. We loved the huge green Tiergarten park in Berlin where saw red squirrels. Vienna was hot and wonderful, we had hot chocolate and cake in a fancy cafe where piano was being played live, we petted cats in a cat cafe, and we cycled along the Donauinsel and went skinny dipping in the Blue Danube.


September

  • Went to the nerdy EMF festival (located between the M1 and a sewage plant in Milton Keynes), where I had a go at blacksmithing.
  • Travelled on the Watercress Line with Mum, and visited Selbourne to walk up Beech Hanger again.
  • Found St Dunstan-in-the-East, a pretty park in a bombed church in London.
  • Saw Breakfast at Tiffany's outside in Kew Gardens with Nick.
  • Went on a trip in an old tube train and the Sarah Siddons locamotive with Nick.
  • Went to Apple Day with Pete and Matt and Tim.
  • Went to Stonehenge with Mum and Nick for the Autumn Equinox. For the first time ever, we actually saw the sunrise, and it was magical. Afterwards, there was an impromptu jam of drummers, an african flautist and a guy playing the didgeridoo in a tiger onesie.
  • Took Nick to Avebury.
  • Spent a wonderful sunny day in Hall Place Gardens and then went to Nick's parents for dinner.


October

  • Visited a slightly unimpressive cafe in our quest for hot chocolate in London, but then ended up sitting on big round hay bales at the edge of Hyde Park and giggling.
  • Took part in a tribal dance flash mob in Covent Garden.
  • For Nick's and my anniversary, we had pain au chocolat for breakfast, went for a walk in Joyden's Wood, then cooked ratatouille and chocolate fondant to eat by candlelight.
  • Walked in Oxleas Woods near Falconwood to see the autumn colours.
  • Did apple bobbing with Nick and Tim, which was very funny indeed.


November

  • Met up with Stoo in London.
  • Saw Amelie in the Prince Charles cinema with Nick.
  • Went to the fireworks in roundwood park with everyone, and sang Queen songs in the tube train on the way home, as we were the only ones in the carriage.
  • Made two trips to Bristol with Nick, where we saw the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the woods next to the town, and the Giant's Cave.
  • Visited the bronze exhibition at the RA lots of times.
  • Finally had my DPhil graduation ceremony, with Mum, Nick and Tim all there.
  • Wandered around a spooky Natural History Museum at a late opening.


December

  • Went to Bruges with Nick to see the Christmas market. We kissed on every bridge in Bruges (there are over 30!), saw a fantastic ice sculpture exhibition with a big slide, and went ice skating in the town square.
  • Visited the Southbank Christmas market to go on the carousel.
  • Went ice skating at the Tower of London.
tinyastronomer: (little prince)
2012-01-02 10:30 pm

2012

2012 promises to be another wonderful year, and as usual I'm resolving to do something from my list each month. Let the games begin...

1. Make fortune cookies (January)
2. Make a tiger-shaped pancake (February)
3. Write a short story in alphabetti spaghetti (March)
4. Walk through a ghost town (Imber in April, Tyneham in May)
5. See an opera (May)
6. The Seven Sisters and the White Cliffs of Dover (May and June)
7. Climb Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh (July)
8. Visit Lindisfarne (July)
9. See a cloud that really truly looks like something else (July)
10. Visit Dungeness (August)
11. Visit Germany and see what remains of the Berlin Wall (August)
12. Attend a festival (EMF, August - September)
13. Take part in a flash mob (ATS flash mob in London, October)
14. Bob for apples on Hallowe'en (October)
15. Catch some food in my mouth (November)
16. Go to a Christmas market in a European city (Bruges, December)
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2011-06-21 11:56 pm

Summer solstice

Tim and I went to Parliament Hill to let off a sky lantern in celebration of the solstice. It was too windy, but looking over the lit-up city, people quietly talking, singing, playing guitar in the dusk, it was rather nice anyway.
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2011-06-21 11:54 pm

Summer rain

I took Rose for a jaunt to the New Forest, wrestling with two OS maps for a simple route. Approching Nomansland, the tunnel of vibrant foliage and ferns I passed through, rhodedendrons dropping flowers
generously over the wet road, bright stripes of sunlight sparkling through the trees, unexpectedly reminded me of Hawai'i. At Nomansland, I paused on the sunny green to look at the well of rememberance and eat a banana, before cycling on through an especially lovely piece of fresh-after-rain woodland. Out on Telegraph Hill, I flew across open moorland overhung with a threatening grey sky and sang a gloriously out-of-tune rendition of Wuthering Heights, which changed to the obvious Queen song through the village of Bohemia.

Running through the pea field, morning sun turning the raindrops on the oilseed to billions of sparkling crystals, I spread my arms wide to brush the leaves and feel the water trickling down my arms.

Crouching amid the big wet strawberry leaves, rummaging for the ripe ones, I snip away steadily. I can smell fresh wet greenery and crushed mint, the peaceful sounds of church bells and wood pidgeons float
across the damp evening air. I eat sweet, tangy rapsberries straight off the canes.
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2011-06-20 08:29 am

What a glorious feeling

On Saturday, Tim and I went to the Heath to try to catch one of the rain showers while going for a dip in the pond. With perfect timing, the rain started just as I finally managed to ease into the freezing water. Watching the drops splash lightly back into the air as they hit the oily green surface, turning my face up and laughing at the refreshing wetness, it was an exhilerating and liberating experience.
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2011-06-08 09:46 pm

Yawp

Feeling a little blue today, I went to Hampstead and ate delicious frozen yoghurt with raspberries in the sun. Climbing Parliament Hill, the rattle of nearby rain rose to a wonderful crescendo as the drops started to fall. By the time I reached the top it was raining properly, and I stood on a bench looking out at the city below bathed in sunshine, as everyone around me melted away. When I was standing alone, I gathered all the bad feelings together, took a deep breath, and shouted it all out at the top of my voice. It was an exhilerating feeling, and I was smiling as I set off home across the Heath, seeing a rainbow on the way.
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2011-05-24 06:03 am

Melancholy

Driving home at 5.45am, Hilo is muffled with a thick covering of dark cloud and humidity. It feels like I'm wrapped in a soft, grey blanket. The radio is playing sad songs, and I'm wondering if that was the last time I'll ever observe.
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2011-05-13 10:46 pm

Aloha!

When moments of sheer bliss come along they should be treasured. After a very long day of travelling, chasing the sun around the world, the plane touched down in Hawaii just as the sun was setting. The last of us passengers descended the metal steps in rapidly darkening twilight, and it was long dark by the time I'd got the hire car sorted out. In the dark, and being disorientated after so long awake, I got completely lost in Kona, and it was a relief to find the hotel, especially when they gave me a toothbrush so I didn't have to venture out to replace my forgotten one. An hour later, I've washed away the travel grime with a hot coconut-scented shower and exchanged jeans and a fleece for a brightly-coloured Hawaiian flower dress. I'm sitting out in the warm, humid dark, sipping a chocolate Silk soy milk, listening to the crickets and the surf crashing on the rocks, and looking at six story palm trees waving in the wind and lights scattered up the mountainside behind.
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2011-02-11 10:14 am

Pretty good

Walking through Green Park in the rain, three days before my 31st birthday. The colours are fading from the sky as early night falls. I'm on my way to a public lecture at the Royal Society. I think, actually, life is pretty good.