’52 weeks’ photos – home or away?

I had envisaged taking part in The Guardian’s 52 weeks photography project would result in a nice little archive of photos of my first year back living in Cardiff but as I’m travelling around quite a bit, it isn’t quite working out like that. Two of the last three photos were taken in London!

Tube rideThis one was taken in the tube near Victoria late on a Friday night – I was traveling from post UK GovCamp drinks to my easyhotel room in Paddington, so I could be around for more UK GovCamp fun the following day. Looking down the carriage it suddenly occurred to me what a rare sight an empty tube carriage is, so I took a quick photo on my iphone with instagram. I liked how the filter made the yellow tubing stand out.

 

Bugs! I think this is my favourite so far – a display of bugs for sale at Jacobs Antiques Market, which I was delighted to discover is still open after all these years. I have fond memories of frequent trips there with my Dad when I was young, rummaging through aged treasures. It’s still just the same. This photo was very much a case of capturing something I really wanted to take home with me but just couldn’t afford to buy! 😦

 

ghost bike As I walked past this ghost bike near Kings Cross station I realised it is the symbol of a story I’d been following online for quite some time. Student Deep Lee died in October 2011 whilst cycling through a notoriously dangerous junction. Will Perrin has covered the story at Kings Cross Environments, raising awareness of cycle safety issues and holding Transport for London to account for failing to make the junction safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

 

I’m unsure what my photo for this week will be – to be honest, I don’t think I’ve taken it yet. As I’m going to Birmingham tomorrow and London on Saturday, it looks like it will be yet another ‘away’ shot!

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Health and happiness – it’s kind of personal

Pink Pad - a bloody brilliant app

Pink Pad - a bloody brilliant app

I’ve introduced a new category to this blog, ‘Health and happiness’ to chart a few changes I’m making to try and be…er…healthier and happier. (Just as a pre-warning, these posts will be quite personal – I’ve been inspired by Ellie Stonely to chart a journey I seem to be on.)

The lifestyle changes have come about following a surprise diagnosis of endometriosis after an operation in November. I didn’t really change anything about my lifestyle in reaction to the news at the time – no sooner had I taken stock than it was time to move to Cardiff. But now Carl and I are settling into our new home and things are calming down a little, I have a bit more time and headspace to devote to my health.

Although the diagnosis came as a shock, it kind of made sense to me once I’d worked out what endometriosis is. My periods have always been very long and painful, I just naively thought that that must be the norm as no Doctors I spoke to about it thought there was any cause for concern. Quite frankly, they’re a drag and in the first couple of days it’s always a choice between knocking myself out on painkillers (the Weekend Option) or gritting my teeth and getting on with things. To be honest in some ways the diagnosis was a kind of relief – I’d feared I must just be a bit weaker and whinier than most other women!

But, as my consultant explained, it also presented another problem, as 40% of women with endometriosis have trouble conceiving and the only way to find out if I’m one of them is to start trying. Erk. Carl and I had discussed having kids sooner or later but now my body was telling us that if we didn’t start trying sooner there may very well not be a later. We suddenly discovered that we weren’t as free to decide when and how (a natural childbirth is already out of the question) as we thought we were.

After we’d had time to digest and think and freak out and talk there was a return trip to the consultant to discuss our options. The conclusion of that was, as it’s causing some pretty painful symptoms and may be causing problems with conceiving, we’d wait until April and if I’m not pregnant by then I’ll undergo another operation to treat the endometriosis. No pressure, then. :-/

In the meantime I’m to keep a diary of my cycle and all the related symptoms I’m experiencing. I’ve never been very good at keeping track of my cycle, I had a vague idea but never got into the habit of marking dates, etc. Luckily a friend introduced me to the fantastic free iPhone app Pink Pad, proving beyond all doubt that there really is an app for everything. It’s a great little calendar app where you can chart your dates, physical symptoms, mood changes, when you’ve been ‘intimate’ (ahem) and notes for anything else. It uses the information you put in to work out the averages of your cycle and displays with a little flower when you should be more fertile. It’s perfect for any woman wanting to keep track of their cycle and how it’s affecting them.

So when (or if?) I next see the consultant and he asks to see my diary, it’s my iPhone rather than a pocketbook that I’ll be getting out of my handbag!

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52 weeks, photo #2: early daffodils

early daffs

I was amazed to see these daffodils for sale at Cardiff Central Station on Monday, so bought a bunch and took a photo of them when I got on the bus to Pontcanna. Now the winter frost has returned, will the spring blooms that made an early entrance perish with the cold? I really hope not – daffodils are my favourite flowers!

My second submission to The Guardian’s 52 weeks photography project.

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Fiesta Fun!

Photo by avlxyz

Photo by avlxyz

Tomorrow is my 35th birthday. I’m not angling for birthday wishes, to be honest when people say, “It’s your birthday tomorrow!” it serves more as a sharp reminder rather than to build-up excitement.

I’m celebrating this Saturday in Birmigham with Sas Taylor (whose birthday was a couple of days ago) and Carl, who’s keen to mark our new Cardiff adventure, with ‘A Brummie Fiesta’ (Sas’s idea). Here’s the eventbrite’s blurb:

Last year we celebrated the birthdays with a cheesy grin. This year we’re hoping for more of a DIY Mexican wave, so…

  • If you can rustle up some chilli, make it.
  • If can you do a mean mojito, mix it.
  • If you have a fetching sombrero, wear it.
  • If you have some Mexican music in your collection, bring it.

Hopefully we can mix up a lovely warm, fiesta feeling that will take our minds off this wet, post-holiday winter weather!

Join us at 7.30pm onwards on Saturday 14th January 2012.

Friction Arts have very kindly given us use of The Edge in Digbeth for the evening – see location details.

I’m hoping a few friends can make it! 🙂

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52 weeks, photo #1: busted brollies

Busted Brollies

I’m keen to record what happens whilst I’m settling into Cardiff life so joining in The Guardian’s 52 weeks photography project (‘join our photo project to share your 2012 in pictures’) seemed like the perfect way of doing it. A photo a week seems do-able, more so than a lengthier blog post or photo a day (with 365 Days), with which I could imagine myself lapsing with.

The project features a fair bit of ‘iphoneography’ but my first image was taken with my trusty Canon G12 after I’d tried and failed to capture the image in the failing light with my iphone.

I took the photo last Thursday evening. After having had my brolly blown inside out and getting soaked as a result early that morning, this bin with broken brollies sticking out of it in Bute Park seemed to say it all about the stormy weather.

The weather wasn’t the only unusual thing – being in Bute Park after dark also felt like quite a novelty. Bute Park traditionally closed its gates at dusk, forcing commuters to walk or cycle around rather than through the park after dark. But over October-December Cardiff Council held a three-month pilot where they opened the major routes until 7pm to allow cyclists and walkers to use them for their journeys home from work.

I’m unsure what the results of the pilot were – the routes seem to have been well-used after dark. But the gates have remained open until 7pm after new year, so the pilot seems to have been extended at least. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it becomes a permanent arrangement, as the walk/cycle from Pontcanna to central Cardiff via Bute Park is a particularly pleasant experience.

I’ve not taken my second week’s photo yet, I’m hoping inspiration strikes me soon!

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My new neighbourhood has a new hyperlocal website: Pontcanna Hub

pontcannahub.com 

pontcannahub.com

Pontcanna saw the new year in with a new hyperlocal website – PontcannaHub.com was launched on 1st January by the Pontcanna Pine/Dairy Team. As well as ‘an information website for people who like, live, visit & work in Pontcanna’ it also supports the local campaign against the proposed developments of a Sainsbury’s and Tesco supermarket.

Now I’m not anti Tesco or Sainsbury’s per se – I can see that in some places, a local chain supermarket might not be a bad thing. I remember being delighted to hear (unfounded) rumours of a Digbeth Tesco Metro shortly after I moved there in 2007 because the area had so little in the way of local shops and amenities at that time.

But Pontcanna is a very different place to Digbeth – a big part of its identity is its many local independent shops, cafes and bars. Since moving here I’ve found myself doing my food shopping at the local butcher’s, baker’s, greengrocer’s and deli rather than getting the lot under the one roof and I and a lot of other local residents seem to prefer it that way. That and a fair few other reasons (local parking and housing issues) is  why quite a few of us will be heading to St Catherine’s Church Hall on Kings Road this Thursday evening to discuss Sainsbury’s proposal.

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Christmas is coming!

Xmas list

I love finding discarded notes and lists, like the ones above I found on the streets of Caerphilly, which tell me I really ought to get my skates on with my Christmas shopping. But it’s hard to feel festive whilst in a strange transition stage – Carl and I moved the bulk of our stuff to Cardiff over the weekend but we’re now back in Brum for the week, in a pretty Spartan flat without much in the way of basic furniture, let alone any Christmas decorations.

Xmas fairy

We wanted to at least put some Christmas lights up in the front window of our new Cardiff house, as ours is the only one in the terrace without a full-on, festive display but we couldn’t find which box the removals company had put them in. So ours is very much the miserable ‘Bah, Humbug!’ house of the street.

But last night Carl and I finally managed to get into the Christmas spirit, decorating his parents’ tree to a soundtrack of Christmas hits and enjoying some mince pies and wine whilst admiring our efforts. I went home happy with that warm, Christmassy feeling inside and the realisation that, “Shit, Christmas is this Sunday and I haven’t got ANYONE’S PRESENTS!”

Merry Christmas everyone!

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