Tuesday, 31 July 2007

8 Things

I have been tagged for a meme (wow - six months ago I wouldn't have had a clue what that even meant!) by one of my favourite bloggers, Tori. I must reveal eight random things about myself. Here are the rules:

~We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.

~Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

~People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.

~At the end of your blog, you need to choose people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and they should read your blog.

Well, here goes!

1. I love eating lemons - have done ever since I was a child. When I was a teenager my mum used to bring me one back every week with the weekly shopping, and I'd sit in my room savouring every segment, trying to make it last. I still love them.

2. I hate wearing lipstick - I dislike the feeling of it on my mouth. I am, however, a lip balm/lip salve addict.

3. When I was 21 I travelled around the world on my own (Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, USA)

4. I have a scar on the third finger of my right hand from an accident when I was 2 years old.

5. My favourite comfort food is spaghetti with home-made tomato sauce.

6. When I peg socks on the line, I have to peg them in matching pairs. It really bugs me when there's an odd one left over!

7. Even in summer I often take a hot water bottle to bed - I just cannot sleep if I have cold feet! It drives T crazy - if I have a hot water bottle he says it makes the bed too hot, and if I don't he complains when I put my cold feet on him!

8. I would love to keep alpacas - they're just so damned cute! Luckily T is more sensible than me and refuses to shell out the £2000+ it would cost us to buy a pair.

That's my 8 - and now I'm passing on the meme baton to these lovely bloggers:

Faerose at http://users.livejournal.com/faerose_/

Leanne at http://somersetseasons.blogspot.com/

and the sleek and beautiful Ginger Darlings at http://www.wethreecats.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Of Wizards and Rebels, and the Frankly Unlikely

Carmarthen has an ancient and amazing culture and history. It's the alleged birthplace of Merlin for one thing, who is supposed to have made many predictions about the place, including that one day a bull would climb to the top of St Peter's church tower (this apparently did happen a hundred or so years ago when one escaped during the weekly livestock market). He also predicted that should the tree known as 'Merlin's Oak' be felled, Carmarthen would be swallowed by the sea. The local council has taken pains to avoid this eventuality, first patching up the ancient - and by now dead & decaying - oak with concrete and iron bands, and finally removing it to a place of safe keeping when it was threatened by a new roundabout.

Carmarthen was also as far west as the invading Romans got in their attempt to subdue the Celts. The oldest part of the town still retains the layout of the original Roman streets, and hidden away are the ruins of an amphitheatre, although little is made of it in terms of either cultural heritage or tourist attraction.

Later, less than two hundred years ago, the town was at the centre of the 'Rebecca Riots', during which farmers revolting against excessive road tolls dressed themselves as women (to avoid being recognised), and calling themselves 'Rebecca and her daughters' (a biblical reference) went on a tollhouse-burning rampage (something the owners of the overpriced Severn Crossing would do well to remember).

Another quirk of Carmarthen? A few remaining coracle fishermen still fish the river Towy from the riverbanks in town.

I could go on and on listing things that make Carmarthen unique. But one characteristic of the town seems to go quite unremarked by other observers. The fact is - Carmarthen has weird graffiti.

There's some, (though not too much) evidence of the usual 'tagging' in the town centre; but I've noticed some graffiti around the junction of Blue Street and Lammas Street where someone regularly scrawls the names of their favourite rock bands/artistes in chalk. What I find remarkable about this is that the bands listed are invariably those fashionable 20-30+ years ago: Rod Stewart, AC/DC, Depeche Mode, The Stranglers, Blue Oyster Cult, InXS, David Essex etc. The graffiti is regularly removed, presumably by business owners or the local council, but then reappears: neatly scrawled lists of slightly naff 'golden oldies' who are mostly unheard of by today's young trendies. Who is the mystery scrawler? Is it someone old enough to remember these bands the first time around and hence really old enough to know better? Or someone younger, trawling their parents' record collection for inspiration? And the neat lists look so polite and unrebellious. No in-your-face slogans, or even declarations that 'Phil Collins rocks!!!', just neat columns of has-been names (apologies to any die-hard fans of any of the above. But fact is, even for those of them still around, their heyday is over). Isn't graffiti supposed to have an element of subversion, a whiff of revolution?

My other favourite piece of graffiti was painted on a wall outside Marks & Spencer for several years. It was a poem, with the title 'For YOU', which invariably made me smile when I passed by. It read:
'You're as young and as old as the ocean,
You smile and skies unfold
Wind and heaven
Are still and solid
You have an unearthly GLOW...'

I always wondered if there was supposed to be more (doesn't it sound like there's supposed to be more?), but it was written in a very neat, unhurried hand, so I don't think the painter was interrupted at his task. And although it was there for a number of years, nothing further was ever added. It has recently been pasted over with home made 'pop-art' style posters - that area seems to be the wall of choice for the creative and artistic vandal-about-town.

They may not fit the usual stereotype of graffiti, but actually I think the examples above are subversive, rebellious, revolutionary - for the very fact that they don't fit the mould. They don't seem designed to shock, or claim territory or status, they're polite and even sweet. Think about it - how subversive is that? Perhaps they are actually the perfect graffiti for a town like Carmarthen: a town of wizards and rebels, a town of ancient heritage and the frankly unlikely.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

And St Swithin Replied...

... with a day of glorious summer weather!

But just the one.

The forecast is not good - more showers tomorrow and a 'severe weather warning' for Friday when very heavy rain is expected.

But today's reminder of what summer should be has been wonderful.

Diolch yn fawr!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Time Off For Good Behaviour?

St Swithin's Day is 15th July. According to tradition, if it rains on St Swithin's Day, it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights thereafter. Of course - it rained.

But what if we've already had 40 days and 40 nights of rain? Do we get any credit for that?

I can't get my washing dry. My veggies have mostly given up (sadly, not so the weeds). The cats have cabin fever. The slugs are having a field day. I'm having to feed the bees sugar syrup because they can't forage. My sandals are gathering dust under the bed, and my boots want a rest.

Come on St Swithin, give us a break!

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Stormy Weather

My friend Reya, whose unconventional viewpoints on life never fail to inspire intriguing new perspectives, talks sometimes about being predicted by the weather. I think I'm starting to know what she means.

Over the last few weeks we've had extremely unsettled weather - rain, wind, storms, even hail. June wasn't so much flaming as rain-lashed, and so far July has been pretty much following suit.

At the same time, the fall-out from the cancellation of Avalon Witchcamp, and the at times seemingly overwhelming task of staging a Summer Gathering instead has left me feeling buffetted and depressed.

I noticed on several occasions recently a weird phenomenon in which the horizon in all directions appeared quite bright, while the sky over us was black and heavy. This seemed to coincide with me feeling weighed down by too many commitments and not enough hours in the day. Was a literal black cloud following me around? I don't really believe that, but it does seem a bit strange.

The weather is still pretty unsettled, but the downpours seem less overwhelming, as does my workload. The sun is peeking out occasionally, the rain no longer a permanent fixture. And at the same time, my shoulders have un-knotted, my headache lifted, my sense of humour has returned.

Am I really being predicted by the weather? If so, I'm hoping for more rainbows, some lazy summer sun and perhaps the odd gentle shower just to keep things interesting. Enough with the stormy stuff for now.

P.S. Reya - recognise the star?