nanila: me (Default)
( May. 8th, 2017 03:38 pm)
I’m an atheist. I’ve never practised any religion of my own volition. I went to a Catholic school as a child, but all that’s left me with is a fondness for elaborate churches with stained glass windows, as I spent most of my time staring out of them and daydreaming.

I find it odd when atheists trumpet themselves as more conscientious and intelligent than believers. OK, so not having a religious doctrine to give you a moral code for “free” might seem like it requires more mental effort. However, you also have legal and social frameworks to provide you with a moral code, and those are probably a bigger deterrent for bad behaviour in practical terms. No one wants to pay large fines, spend time in jail, or be Billy-No-Mates. I think those are the things that keep most people, religious or not, from being arseholes.

The assumption that every practitioner of a religion believes in the same moral code also bothers me. Have you seen the news at all, ever? I can only imagine what it must be like to be a practising believer, well-versed in one’s doctrine, watching some dickhead on television saying he’s just slaughtered a bunch of people who were worshipping in their house of faith, which they thought was a sanctuary, because God told him to. It must be heartbreaking, seeing someone who’s allegedly read the same texts, extracting that message from them.

As for intelligence, the very definition of which is highly problematic, especially when people get competitive about it, what makes anyone think that atheism is an automatic pass to ranking oneself above others? There are atheists who are also stupid, who speak and act illogically, and are ignorant and determined to stay that way. There are people of faith who are not.

Anyway, the point of this ramble was really to send a message to my friends who are believers: I don’t think I’m better or smarter than you because I’m an atheist. I think this is worth saying because there are an awful lot of atheists who do. If you want to talk about your faith with or around me, please do. Or don’t! That’s also okay, of course. I love you.
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
( Apr. 13th, 2017 11:49 am)
All photos taken with my phone - we brought no luggage apart from our rucksacks & I didn't have space for the dSLR. Quality is variable, especially since Aviary on Flickr is still not working so everything is SOOC.

Last weekend, Humuhumu and I had our first mini-break together.

I picked her up from nursery slightly earlier than usual and we took the train to Birmingham International. We had our tea in the airport. The server behind the counter took a shine to her since she asked ask so politely for her hot chocolate, and presented her with an absolute mountain of whipped cream. Apart from that, her dinner consisted of an apple, carrot juice and an oatmeal bar.

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[Humuhumu eating her dinner]

Slightly unbelievably, we ran into some cousins who live in Cheltenham and were flying to Mallorca for their Easter holidays. Humuhumu was growing tired – it was nearly 8 PM – so spent a lot of the conversation cuddled up in my lap with her blankie.

We boarded the plane. Humuhumu’s disappointment at the lack of films on the plane (it’s a 45 minute flight) was mitigated by being given free reign over the tablet.

Once we’d landed in Dublin, it took about 30 minutes to get through a second immigration check. While we waited in the queue, we were treated to a rant on the subject of unhelpful security measures by the elderly Irish gentleman in front of us, who was fervently pro-freedom-of-movement. It was rather lovely.

We skipped through the airport and into a taxi. The taxi driver was listening to a programme called “Leap of Faith”, to which Humuhumu promptly fell asleep. I listened quietly as they discussed the results of a survey on the church-going practices of Dublin-dwellers. I giggled when they thanked the 2,130 respondents who said they belonged to the Church of the Jedi Knights. The taxi driver said, “Oh, you were listening, were you?” in some surprise. “This isn’t the same country I grew up in, I tell ye.”
“And is that a good thing?” I asked.
“Oh yes,” he said. “It is. The way it used to be, with the church…” he shook his head. “Too many young lives ruined.”
He got a disproportionately large tip.

[personal profile] emelbe met us in the lobby. We headed promptly up to our room, as Humuhumu was blearily trying to process 10 PM. While she snuggled down into her bed, [personal profile] emelbe and I exchanged gifts.
“I brought you tea and whisky,” she said.
“I brought you tea and whisky,” I said.
We celebrated with wine.

The next day dawned bright, sunny and warm. We went down to the hotel buffet and discovered they had a magical pancake-making machine. Pancakes with Nutella and maple syrup were duly consumed.

We headed outside with the Leprechaun / folklore Museum in mind as our destination, via parks and playgrounds. It took us over an hour to reach the Museum, where we were told (and good on them for it, too) that it was not suitable for children under seven. Having failed at culture, we opted for shopping at the Penney’s mothership, where we discovered sproingy hair bobbles and Finding Dory colouring sets.

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[Humuhumu in the hand of the giant at the Giant’s Playground.]

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[Humuhumu clambers over the dog-insect-thing]

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[Humuhumu inspects the flower beds in a park.]

We walked back over the river Liffey and into Temple Bar so we could go to Gallagher’s Boxty House for lunch. Humuhumu had the “child-sized” portion of fish and chips. It was enormous. I had the stew and [personal profile] emelbe had the boxty.

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[Humuhumu colours in Dory before our lunch arrives.]

We waddled outside an hour later stuffed to the gills and headed through the Saturday 3 PM crowds (who were 9 PM levels of drunk already) to find our route blocked by a large protest about water tariffs. Detouring around it, we arrived at our destination: the Natural History Museum, aka the display of truly alarming taxidermy. Humuhumu: “It looks like the scary lady’s room in Paddington!” (Scary Lady == Nicole Kidman’s character, who wants to stuff Paddington.) We investigated the displays for about 45 minutes whilst [personal profile] emelbe went to buy whiskey and to the Archaeology Museum to get postcards.

Displays of taxidermy varying from innocuous to MY EYES MY BEAUTIFUL EYES )

We returned to the Giant’s Playground. Thorough sun-baked and tuckered out, we meandered back to the hotel, where we flopped out until dinnertime, which ended up being smoothies at the hotel bar because we were still full from lunch.

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[Inexplicable corporate art is also for playing on, yes yes?]

Humuhumu went fairly easily to sleep in my arms, as did I. I managed to rouse myself briefly to taste the bourbon [personal profile] emelbe had brought for me to sample, but bedtime was still pretty early.

The next morning was significantly cooler and cloudier, conforming more to expectations of Dublin in April. We took our time in rising and going to breakfast, checking out at the last possible moment. Even with that we were still too early to check into the canal barge where [personal profile] emelbe was to spend the rest of her holiday. We strolled up the quayside and stopped off for a pastry and tea at Il Valentino before going to the docks.

As soon as we met the barge owner, I knew I'd made a tactical error in going to the hotel. I had been afraid to stay on the water because Humuhumu can't swim. It turned out that the barge was both firmly affixed to the docks and could be locked securely. Also, there was space for Humuhumu to play, and games and toys for children. Lesson learned.

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[Panoramic view from the back of the barge.]

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[Humuhumu pointing out the seagulls.]

We spent the afternoon playing and talking. [livejournal.com profile] omniana, whom I haven't seen in 8 years, came by. We drank tea, ate apples and caught up on one another's lives while Humuhumu and I coloured in Finding Dory pictures.

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[Lounging on the barge.]

Hours flew by and then it was time to get back in the taxi to the airport. After the short journey back to Brum, we were met by our sunburnt boys at the airport. Joyful reunification was swiftly followed by sleeping in the car.

Verdict: Daughter is A+++ traveling companion, would mini-break with again.
Here are two things that have provided pinpoints of light in these dark times.

The first is the release of roya’s EP, “trax”. Roya & I went to high school together. She now lives in Sweden. We see each other every few years when she passes through London, usually on her way to someplace more exciting. Roya introduced me to the internet (back in the days of dialup and BBSs) and the Simpsons (you know, when it started). She was the first programmer I ever knew. She was, in short, much cooler than I am, and she continues to be in these haunting electro tracks.

Roya - trax
[The cover of the trax CD EP, two stickers, and Roya’s note to me. Click here to access her Bandcamp site, where you can listen to tracks and/or purchase her work.]

The second is a Dutch artist who was having a small exhibition at ESTEC the last time I was in the Netherlands. I was immediately attracted to her abstract, heavily textured paintings. I noted an area of one piece that had been done with a palette knife and we then had a long chat about her intricate, labour-intensive construction process. I was secretly delighted at some similarities to my own, and inspired to try some of her more sophisticated elements. It is my ambition to own one of her Lyrical Incandescent or Geological Series pieces.


[“Through the Heavens,” Nicole Cijs, from the Geological Series. Click the image to view her web site.]
I recently scored tickets to a recording of the long-running BBC Radio 4 programme "Just a Minute". For those who are unfamiliar with it, four panelists are given, in turn, a random topic by the host and must speak for one minute on it without repetition, hesitation or deviation. The other three panelists try to catch them out, and if they score a correct challenge, they take over the topic and continue speaking. A single round can take quite a lot longer than one minute whilst the panelists and host argue over whether or not the challenges are in fact correct. Or end up chatting about something else entirely.

This was the first recording I'd attended that wasn't at Broadcasting House. It was in the Shaw Theatre, between Euston and Kings Cross stations, and it has greater capacity than Broadcasting House. Unfortunately, it isn't air-conditioned. It was also packed full, because "Just a Minute" is a cultural institution and is still very popular. Nicholas Parsons has been hosting the show for almost fifty years, and the adulation he received at the start and end of the recording made it practically impossible to hear his greetings and farewell.

We had a little unintentional pre-show entertainment. The ticketing system works thus: You turn up an hour before the doors open, present your ticket and are given a sticker with a number on it. When the doors open, the production guests (wearing wristbands) file in first, and then the ticket holders are allowed entry in groups of fifty. It all works in quite a civilised fashion despite the crush in the lobby, because British people love queuing.

However, once we'd (nearly) all sat down, it became evident that there'd been some sort of cock-up involving the seating of the production guests. Four people wearing viridescent wristbands were stood at the front, looking up at the full rows of seats with evident displeasure. One was a blonde woman in a white jacket with a formidable aspect. I should not like to have been the young production assistant attempting to mollify her and receiving the pointy end of said displeasure. Hands were waved about. The small number of solitary seats scattered about the theatre were indicated and obviously rejected. Eventually, some audience members were convinced to shift around slightly to permit the foursome to sit in pairs on opposite sides of the theatre.

This had all taken a good ten minutes, by which point the ostensible start time of the recording had passed. The drama had now attracted the attention of literally every person in the audience. When the formidable woman sat down, the entire theatre broke into a cheer. She stood up a few seconds later to hand her empty drink cup (two will get you seven that it was a large gin and tonic) to a frazzled usher. The audience booed. Unfased, she turned around, smiled beautifully and resumed her seat gracefully. I was impressed, as I suspect most of the rest of the audience would have died of embarrassment right then.

It was not until the very end of the show when Nicholas Parsons was bidding us farewell that we had the measure of what had transpired. "If," he said, with a twinkle in his eye "you happen to run across the fellow who tore the sign reading 'Reserved for Nicholas Parson's wife' off the seats in the front..." He made a small, meaningful gesture with his cane.

The four panelists were Paul Merton, Tony Hawks, Zoë Lyons and Julian Clary. I shall say no more of the two very funny shows that were recorded, but I think I can safely share another pre-recording anecdote. Nicholas Parsons asked each panelist to speak into their microphone for the sake of the sound engineer at the back. Not one to pass up an opportunity for innuendo, Julian Clary put on his most deliberately camp voice and said, "Hello, David, are you receiving me in the rear?" Nicholas Parsons: "Yes, I think so. Poor David. He can't hear anything now."

After departing the Shaw, I arrived at my place of sleep around 22:30. I walked in the door and was greeted by the smell of freshly baked apple & rhubarb crumble and vanilla custard heating on the hob. A whisky glass was placed in my hand and unopened bottles of Lagavulin and Scapa presented upon the kitchen island for my perusal and selection.

Sometimes, I am a very lucky Nanila indeed.
I feel the need to spend time thinking positively about my community, and all the lovely people in it.

Please leave a comment if you would like me to tell you something I admire about you.
nanila: (kusanagi: aww)
( Jul. 30th, 2015 08:15 pm)
Recently, [personal profile] emelbe came to visit us, bringing glorious weather with her. She spent six days with us, lounging in the garden, going for runs and generally being a very relaxed hoopy frood. (She’s definitely the sort of hitchhiker who really knows where her towel is.)

She also took some pictures, which I’m sharing here with permission and much glee.

+8, Hanging in the garden on hot days )

We took M to a nearby Country Fair, because if you’re going to visit rural Worcestershire you might as well have a properly agricultural experience. With locally brewed cider. And a “guess the weight of the pregnant pig” contest.

+8, Pony ride, bouncy castle )

And finally, because M was here during 4 July, which perhaps understandably is not quite as big a deal in Britain as it is in the United States, we had a Revolting Colonial Day barbecue. The bloke retaliated by inviting a bunch of Brits to come over and help celebrate. We may have been outnumbered, but I think we made up for it with attitude. :D
nanila: (kusanagi: aww)
( May. 22nd, 2015 09:00 pm)
Disclaimer: I must emphasise that I didn’t take any of the photos in this post. They were all taken by [livejournal.com profile] melissa_maples, who kindly rescued us from our magical ability to get lost even when given very specific directions, and led us to cake and culture in Kaleici. Not only is she a great tour guide, she is also a fantastic photographer and regular blogger and is pretty much directly responsible for our location choice for this holiday. I’m over the moon that we have her photos to remember this trip into Antalya (we were staying at a resort in Kemer, about an hour away by bus) and that there are several lovely ones of all of us together.

First stop, Güneş
Once Melissa had found us, we determined that the first order of business should be cake. We stopped at Güneş to eat tiramisu. The Turkish formula for tiramisu seems to be as follows:
  1. Remove alcohol, substitute additional chocolate
  2. Make cream filling as light and fluffy as possible
  3. Serve pieces nearly as large as baby’s head
  4. Profit

I can confirm that we cleaned our plates.

+lots of words & photos )

Overlooking the old city
Tourist family shot overlooking Kaleiçi.

Everybody together
Everybody smiling in Kaleiçi, except for Keiki who was pretty adamant about looking the other way.

Having admired the bay from several angles, we decided to start the hour and a half journey back to Kemer. We’d had a grand time and we figured it was best not to push Humuhumu too hard. She conked out almost immediately, clinging to the bloke like a baby koala, so we’re pretty certain that was the right decision.

It was terrific to spend facetime with an LJ friend I’ve known online for over ten years, and to be treated to such a tour of their city. I’ll treasure the memory of this day out. I’m so grateful to have these pictures to remind me of everything we did (and ate, yay fooood). [livejournal.com profile] melissa_maples: <333333333!
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
( Feb. 12th, 2015 01:56 pm)
I'm enjoying the resurrection of this meme. [personal profile] liseuse gave me an L.

Something I hate: Lint. Especially the lint you get when you accidentally leave a tissue in one of your pockets and then do a load of dark laundry. Thousands of tiny pieces of white lint, gleaming all over your black jeans, adhering with the stubbornness of dried snot. ARGH.
Something I love: Lumpia, or Filipino fried spring rolls. I do believe that, along with malasadas and manapua, they constituted a significant proportion of my childhood diet. I did a Google image search for them and I’m drooling all over the place now. Go on, try it. Even if you’ve never eaten one, I bet it’ll do the same for you.
Somewhere I’ve been: Lamu Island, World Heritage Site off the Kenyan coast. I went there in 2010 with the bloke and two friends. We spent a few days exploring it. I’ve linked the first day’s journal entry here, and if you follow the “lamu” tag it’ll take you through the rest: DW/LJ.
Somewhere I’d like to go: Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway. I want to see both the Svalbard Satellite Station and the Global Seed Vault.
Someone I know: Lyn, my wonderful neighbour. Which reminds me, I need to ask her over for tea next week.
A film I like: Lilo and Stitch. Because ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten. And because mad “I prefer the term evil genius” scientists, ray guns, aliens playing punch buggy, and social worker named Cobra Bubbles.

Also, Tia Carrera. ♥

Please leave a comment if you would like a letter from me!
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
( Feb. 10th, 2015 04:50 pm)
[personal profile] liv gave me an S.

Something I hate: Starting things. No really. Flippin’ heck, beginnings are scary, not least because success is never guaranteed. Starting things is the reason procrastination is so attractive.
Something I love: Shoyu. Some people call it soy sauce. Either way it is delicious and there are not many savoury foods I don’t find improved by its addition.
Somewhere I’ve been: St Kilda, World Heritage Site and essential breeding ground for North Atlantic seabirds, three hours by speedboat off the coast of Scotland. We went when I was 5.5 months pregnant with Humuhumu. This is still one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever been on. Read about it here: DW/LJ.
Somewhere I’d like to go: Singapore. Sydney. Southern Hemisphere in general. The furthest south I’ve ever been is Mombasa in Kenya.
Someone I know: Siobhan. We have been friends for many moons, and although we are separated by an ocean and a continent, I still feel close to her.
A film I like: Salt. Female action hero ftw.

Please leave a comment if you would like a letter from me!

(Oh, PS, yesterday I sent out the last batch of dragon postcards. At last. \o/ If you don't receive yours in a week or so, please let me know.)
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
( Oct. 20th, 2014 12:14 pm)
After returning from Germany reasonably early on Friday, it wasn’t too difficult to muster the energy to journey to Oxfordshire for a visit to the Ai Weiwei sculpture exhibition at (Unesco World Heritage Site) Blenheim Palace.

Blenheim isn’t a National Trust or English Heritage property, so we don’t have memberships that cover it. It’s also an eye-watering £22.50 per adult for a day admission. However, once you’ve paid it, you can convert this to an annual membership and come back any time you like for the subsequent year. Since Humuhumu had a lot of energy to run off by the time we got there (it’s over an hour’s drive from home) and we didn’t get to spend any time indoors, we’re determined to go again in a couple of weeks to at least attempt to see the sculptures that are housed inside the Palace.

It was a blowy, blustery day and Humuhumu loved dashing around the majestic grounds, helping us to hunt down the sculptures. The symmetrical shiny blue-purple stones were the hands-down favourites.


[Image of Humuhumu running through one of Ai Weiwei's sculptures at Blenheim Palace.]

More words and pictures )

Hours of fresh air and exercise tired everyone out, so I’m afraid poor Bloke had to drive home with only the dulcet tones of Radio 4 playing “Under Milk Wood” by Dylan Thomas* to drown out the snorkeling of his passengers.

* NB: I do not recommend listening to this whilst dozing unless you enjoy having very strange dreams.

The next day everyone had a lie-in, even Humuhumu, who slept until almost 8 AM. (Note to Daughter: More Sundays like this please.) Once we were up, we went to the garden centre to get wallflowers and pansies to plant in our front pots, as the geraniums were beginning to flag in the cooler weather. We are once again keeping up appearances in our village, to the relief of the neighbours, I'm sure.

In the afternoon, we headed to the Avoncroft Museum nearby for Trebuchet and Cannon Reenactment Day. We texted some other parents on the off-chance that they were at loose ends for Sunday activities, and to our immense surprise, everyone turned up. Humuhumu was delighted at the company. The four-year-old girl pretty much adopted Humuhumu, and cried when her Daddy tried to take her away before she could give her a goodbye cuddle and kiss.

The other children didn’t much care for the noisy cannon demonstrations, but Humuhumu’s response to every firing was a passionate demand for “MORE BANG!” and “Nani do it!” Oh dear.

Also filed under Oh Dear: Humuhumu has got quite a strong Brummie accent at the moment. Here is an attempt to record her pronunciation of a few words/phrases. I need to get some video of this for posterity before she loses it, which she very probably will when she’s older. She doesn’t hear any Brummie at home or from our friends and relations.

Bye Bye = “Buh Boy”
Like a diamond in the sky = “Loik a doymund in da skoy”
Bus = “Booss”
Daddy = “Dah-doy”


[Humuhumu and Dada at the trebuchet & cannon-firing display at the Avoncroft Museum. She’s in the middle of a request for “MORE BANG” here.]
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