Summer Retrospective

Summer was pretty stressful. I had dental problems and we moved house in August. The mouse infestation at our previous flat was just awful and has made me quite jumpy and hypervigilant in my living space.

We’re much happier with our new place, but we took it unfurnished and that’s turned out to be more work than I anticipated. At least it’s far nicer than our old flat and located in an area of the city with better air quality and closer to nature. I still can’t quite believe that I can walk to the sea in half-an-hour and watch cormorants roosting, not to mention the nearby wetlands, where we saw a kingfisher and a water vole just the other day.

So, overall, good outcomes, but I do feel like I’ve had very little time to myself and, perhaps unsurprisingly, my anxiety has been back. Big time. I started having anxiety attacks when we were flat-hunting in July. Since the end of September, I’ve been having them fairly regularly, mostly over small things. For example, I was staying in a hotel room with a noisy air vent and phoned my partner having a panic attack because I thought it was going to kill me. I haven’t been doing a great job of dealing with it, honestly.

The cultural highlight of the summer was a trip to London to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Gwendolyn Christie at The Bridge Theatre. I thought it was a wonderful production, probably the best Shakespeare I’ve seen. It was just so gorgeous and inventive. We had tickets for the pit, so we got the full immersive experience. I won’t attempt to describe it, but you can watch the trailer for the cinema release if you’re interested.

We took a trip to St Fagan’s Museum of Welsh Life which we do periodically because we like pottering round the exhibits. I saw Avenue Q with a friend for her birthday. I’ve seen it before but it’s always fun.

I had a go at #20BooksOfSummer and managed to read fourteen books. I thought that was pretty good, considering I don’t like reading challenges. I did it to make a dent in my TBR pile, which it did. I didn’t keep up with posting about the books, but I’m hoping to write about a few more of them over the autumn.

So, that was my summer. I’m hoping life will calm down over the autumn and winter.

Happy Autumn Equinox

Photograph of a tree with orange autumn leaves

We’ve had an extremely busy summer, which has mainly been taken up with moving house. Things are calming down now and Autumn is one of my favourite seasons, so I’m glad to see it arrive.

I feel like I’m ‘harvesting’ quite a lot of good stuff this year. Moving has been a big achievement and we finally feel happy with our living environment. I think this will make a big difference to our general wellbeing. My own self-care has improved enormously and I’m getting better at managing my mental health.

My goal between now and Samhain is to sort out a whole bunch of life admin that’s been building up over the last couple of years. It’s a long list of small things that aren’t terribly urgent, but which need me to take action. These are the kind of things that trip you up when you least expect it, so I’ve decided to get on with it for the next two months and work through the list.

The Albums that Made Me #6 – Kate Bush, ‘The Dreaming’ (1982)

Album cover is a sepia-toned photograph of Kate Bush. She is holding the head of a man who is facing her and she seems to be leaning in to kiss him, but her eyes are looking away to the left. There is a chain and padlock on the man's shoulder.

I’ve written about The Dreaming before, so this is a bit of a repeat post, but I just had to include it on my ‘Albums that Made Me’ list.

I can’t overestimate the influence The Dreaming has had on my taste in music and, possibly, in shaping aspects of my personality. I must have been around six years-old when I started listening to it. My Dad was a Kate Bush fan and we always had her albums around the house.

The Dreaming is probably the album that first sparked something in me which could be called a sense of “taste” in music. I loved it, but I was also quite terrified by songs like ‘Get Out of My House‘. I was fascinated by the soundscape and the way Kate Bush manipulated her vocals on different tracks. I was slightly outraged that a woman could sound like that! In summary, it got me to start thinking about music.

I would play it in the kitchen and dance madly to ‘Night of the Swallow‘, ‘Sat in your lap‘ and ‘The Dreaming‘. That’s what I mainly remember. Dancing, dancing, dancing until I was exhausted. One time, I ran up and down the room so wildly, I winded myself on the kitchen sink.

As an adult, my favourite Kate Bush album is Hounds of Love, but I still have a very special place in my heart for The Dreaming.

April/May life round-up

The top of a tree covered in pink cherry blossom against a bright blue sky

Obligatory spring blossom photograph

Life has continued to be hectic and stressful. I have a lot going on at work. The mice returned and we had to get pest control in to deal with them. I felt bad about it, but nothing else worked. Then a couple of weeks ago, I had a terrible toothache. Apparently, the tooth is fractured and will need a crown. That’s gonna be expensive.  

It wasn’t all bad though. There has been some nice weather. We visited the Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing Exhibition and it was pretty amazing to see the drawings close up. Then we saw Thea Gilmore live and that was excellent. 

Film 

We saw Captain Marvel and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I’m not really into the Marvel universe, but this was a good time. 

Reading 

I read a few crime thrillers. The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson is a proper literary thriller (post coming). I enjoyed The Dry by Jane Harper, but didn’t think it quite lived up to all the hype. The Old You by Louise Voss is a twisty thriller that’s probably best read on a plane, or the beach. 

The Ark by Patrick Tomlinson is quite a fun SF thriller and I really liked Una McCormack’s novella, The Undefeated. I’ve got a big pile of science fiction novels on the go at the moment. 

I’m chipping away at The Collected Poems of Philip Larkin. He’s a brilliant poet, but I am finding all the self-loathing and mid-century sexism a bit hard work. Still, he did write my absolute favourite poem set in the month of May, ‘The Trees

Television 

Of course we’re watching the superb Gentleman Jack. 

We started on The Orville, the premise of which is basically Star Trek: The Next Generation if the crew were ordinary people. I am a little surprised by the high quality of the storytelling on what appears (on the surface at least) to be quite a silly show.  It has me hooked.