29 · non-binary (they/them) · neurodiverse · spoonie · queer femme · NSO & trainee zebra · polyamorous · burned-out activist · geek.

♥ coffee ♥ roller derby ♥ photography ♥ knitting ♥ exploring ♥ creating ♥

tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
I realised recently that Oxford has become my haven over the last few years, the place I escape to when I want some space - whether a break from routine, a little distraction, or a change in direction for some part of my life.

Lately, I've really needed this: with 2014 having been difficult in a few different ways, I decided that my birthday on Monday just gone would more than just metaphorically represent a new year in my life; it would be an opportunity to put unresolved problems behind me and move on. I wanted a distraction, to help me get through the final hurdle, new happy things to think about with which to bump sad memories out of my mind, and somewhere safe that I could create a conscious space of change from which to move forwards, all whilst getting hugs and spending time with friends. So, Oxford.

I arrived just before 9am yesterday, having embraced the cheap but obscenely early 05:11 train from Manchester (combined with a night out the night before, meaning I was already in Manchester city centre at 2am) - Ruth, JTA and Dan had test-drives booked in a selection of new cars for shortly after that, so I fixed myself breakfast, showered and napped until they returned, and Dan woke me around 1pm so that I could be sociable.

The afternoon melted into evening - time flies when you're having fun, etc. - and there were sofa-snuggles with Dan, chatting and catching up on one another's lives (including the many things I've forgotten to blog about here, including how I've accidentally become an academic, working on a legit research project and speaking at a conference in September, plus that I'll be living in the Netherlands for three months next year, and that I'm going on holiday to Seattle in October… I really ought to blog more, I guess?)
I worked on my knitting whilst we chatted, and then there was the obligatory board game (Guillotine, another addition to my Amazon wishlist) before pizza and the most hilariously terrible/terribly hilarious film, Orgasmo, about a Mormon-missionary-turned-accidental-pornstar. (It's better than it sounds. So much better.)

Ruth also baked me a birthday cake with so much ginger that it was almost orgasmic - even including a birthday candle. (I will never be too old for birthday candles. Never.)

More snuggles with Dan this morning as we waited for the rest of the house to rise, and a particularly wonderful moment as we talked about dating and relationships, and I quite bluntly friend-zoned him - it's not the first time that one of us has said to the other that us dating wouldn't work out, so I had no hesitation or fear in saying it, but this time was the first either of us has outright said it whilst face-to-face, and so the kindness and compassion with which he agreed that our dynamic was too good to screw about with still managed to take me by surprise, whilst also reminding me once again why my friendship with him is one of the most precious things in my life. It's a quite platonic love we have for one another, but each time I think that our friendship can't mean any more to me, that he can't make me feel more special and loved (in this special kind of way that's like nothing I have or have ever had with anybody else) - he finds a way to prove me wrong.

We spent this afternoon before my train home exploring woods and planting his next geocache together, taking in fresh air and talking, still learning new things about each other even after 7 years. (7 years! It feels like the hillside midnight cuddle party in Wales in 2007 happened yesterday, watching shooting stars and cuddling.)
Then, as he parked up near the station, almost ready to drop me off for my train, he suddenly remembered the proximity of a particularly difficult geocache he'd found and blogged about, as his retrieval of it was rather superhero-like - he rightly knew I'd want to attempt it, and took me down to where it was. I had a go, with his encouragement and advice, but all too quickly, adrenaline began to soar through me and as I began to shake, I knew not falling into the river would be impossible. I wanted to keep trying but I knew I wasn't safe and despite that, I didn't want to give up - I was close to frustrated tears and annoyance at myself as I admitted that I was quitting - but his gentle encouragement turned to reassurance that he'd not done it first time either, and my annoyance and fear of looking weak and stupid in front of someone important to me melted away. (Next time I visit, I'm taking my climbing harness, metalwork and ropes…)

We made our way to the train station again, got some food and shared another cuddle or two before I had to get on my train, by which point I was fighting back tears, a small part of me sad because I never want to leave, moreso this weekend than I have before, but also happiness and security, knowing that distance changes nothing for us.

I had no idea, seven years ago, what this connection would bring me. Back then, I wanted something different to what we've got now, something that didn't work and in fact, nearly destroyed our friendship - but I can't even find sadness in the year we barely talked following that: having nearly thrown it all away once, what we've got now feels all the more wonderful.

Six weeks' of placement, two weeks' of theory, three weeks' annual leave, four weeks' theory, and then December, and hopefully, my next visit. May it pass quickly.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
I am visiting a friend in Cambridge, who is doing a super stressful course and needed some cheering up. I got started before I even arrived;

Kieran: (Texting me around the time that my delayed train is due.) Are you here?
Me: No, I'm here.
Kieran: Where? I'm outside.
Me: On a train.

(I've wanted to use that line for years.)

Once my train finally arrived, we had to cycle to his flat around 2 miles south-west of the train station. This was made somewhat more difficult by the fact that Cambridge has been experiencing north-easterly gale force winds for the last two weeks or so (which we, of course, had to cycle directly into).

Upon seeing the lovely smooth and flat cycle path however, I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking it would make life a lot easier. And that was probably my mistake.

Around 1.5 miles into the journey, in something resembling a comedy sketch, an extremely strong sidewind joined forces with the headwind we were fighting, and took my bike right out from under me. Fortunately, the wind buffeted my fall, but did mean that I had one of those "I'm going to fall off my bike now" sense of doom moments before actually hitting the ground.

I decided I was fine, dusted myself off, pushed the bike upright, and began to use it to help me stand up.

But of course, the gale that we've been riding into is still smashing into us, and no sooner had I raised my centre of gravity even a foot from the ground, I was back on my arse again, this time with the bike on top of me.

Meanwhile, Kieran (who had been merrily cycling off into the distance) suddenly realises that I've stopped talking/yelling, and turns round to see me lying on the floor under my bike, flailing like an upside-down insect, and starts laughing at me.

(We followed all of this up with going to see the Lego Movie, by car because it seemed rather more sensible, and that has had us spontaneously cracking up ever since leaving the SPACESHIP! cinema.

I wonder what hijinks tomorrow and Monday morning will bring.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Nursing degrees don't quite work like normal degrees. Instead of studying for most of the year (bar a couple of weeks mid-winter) and then getting almost three months off over the summer, the academic year runs March to March (for my cohort) and I'm allotted 7 weeks annual leave per year (a generous 3 extra weeks on top of AL given to newly qualified nurses working for the NHS). So when I found out when my weeks off for the year were, I planned this trip to Oxford, having promised myself a weekend off from the rest of life when I last visited back in December. (At the time I made myself that promise, I didn't know I'd be studying already, or even at all, which has made the weekend away even more valuable.)

So it's been great! We kickstarted the weekend with a return to George & Danver, because what trip to Oxford is complete without G&Ds ice cream? I had a coffee waffle sundae topped with nuts and hot chocolate fudge sauce, to celebrate my exam results (85% hellyeah!) and reaching my goal weight (mmm, delicious irony).

It was incredibly tasty, and even bigger than it looks in the photo. I struggled to finish it. I may have to go back to brownie next time...

On Saturday, Dan and I went geocaching, intending to cycle down the road to the cyclepath along the river and grabbing part of a new series that have popped up called "On yer bike". After the first cache, Dan said "before we go, it looks like there's another one not too far from here..." and that turned into another one, which was a multicache that we had to abandon our bikes to retrieve because... well, off-piste wouldn't do that particular adventure justice, and then we finally got "On yer bike 1" ... on foot.


Somewhere in the middle of it all, we found a caterpillar whose face bore a slight resemblance to that of a badger.

So then we had to explore the woods again, to find our bikes. By this point, all that was on either of our minds was a delicious cold drink, so we headed home for dinner. I made curry for everyone, and we played Charades, Articulate! and Cards Against Humanity.

Today, we had a lazy morning and I asked Dan to be my good conscience and stop me buying my red dress. His attempts to do this could be summed up as: "when I'm looking at sale items, if I know I can afford it soon, I'll buy them whilst they're cheap" and at the point at which I realised I'd already worked the hours I needed to to pay for about 75% of not just a beautiful red glitzy dress but a bright purple petticoat to wear underneath it as well... all that stood between me and my debit card was checking with the store which size I should probably be wearing. And they were very helpful...

I then went out geocaching again, solo this time, and picked up another four (bringing my total, both this year and for the weekend, to nine) and remembered how much I really enjoy it, and that I should do it again. I got to explore some more of Radley, and hoover up the others within a sensible circular route of Earth, as my hosts are buying a house on the other side of Oxford at the moment, which means I almost certainly won't return here again. At one point, my GPS literally led me into a tree, and when I looked up upon emerging (having found the geocache buried in its bowels) I felt bizarrely like I'd come out in rural USA rather than Oxfordshire:

Anyway, I am back on Earth now, and thinking about packing my rucksack up again ready for the train home, as the weekend appears to have passed far too quickly again, but also about all the other exciting things happening soon:
  • Several photoshoots this week, both as photographer and model
  • London next weekend! (Pembury, 6pm, Saturday, be there!)
  • Two parties the weekend after - one for Stockport Beer Festival volunteers, and one for Simon's birthday
  • Edinburgh the following weekend
  • Shooting with Apocalypse Girls in Nottingham at the end of July
  • The day after that, I go out on placement again, for two months this time... fortunately Monday-Friday 9-5!
  • First weekend of August: my birthday BBQ, and climbing at Awesome Walls on the day itself
  • Then Alison's wedding party
  • St John Ambulance training weekend (which is probably unexciting in and of itself, but it does mean I will be able to go on duty again soon, which I haven't done for many many months!
  • After that it's Pride weekend, and photography opportunities galore...
  • And then James turns 17, and we're having a birthday BBQ for him too

...which takes us to my next free weekend, the 7th/8th September (which may find me in Oxford for a housewarming...)

I like to keep busy :)
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
I was in Oxford this weekend, to catch up with Dan, [twitter.com profile] misterjta and [livejournal.com profile] fleeblewidget, who I've not seen in far too long (getting on for 18 months), play some board games and eat late night ice cream. (Hooray G&D's!)

I was introduced to several new games - 7 Wonders, Dominion, Playtest and expansions, Cash'n'Guns and then, as people on Twitter may have noticed, Articulate! - the latter of which was probably far more fun than is truly legal. Some of the descriptions and answers that came up were truly brilliant. (If I do say so myself - and I was responsible for a fair few of them.)

“Think it might have some oil but probably not. Sandy.”
(I don't remember what it was, but it wasn't that.)

“Surname like a rock.”
“Pebbles Flintstone!”
(Sharon Stone, apparently.)

“It’s like a computer but makes a much more satisfying noise!”
(Typewriter, I'm told - although at one point I thought it might have been a dot matrix printer.)

“It goes ARF ARF ARF and claps!”
(The right answer, seal, was remembered moments later.)

“Has mods and rockers, a massive gay scene and is on the south coast of England!”
“John O’Groats!”
(Only a few miles away from Brighton, for sure.)

“It’s a vegetable. You can pickle it.”
(Further proving why I would make a crap vegan.)

“It’s what you do when you’re not pulling!”
(Whilst possibly true, the correct answer was pushing.)

“You do it to someone if you're monogamous and love them very much, it involves exchanging things…”
“Hugs? Kissing? Sex!”
(Marriage is apparently the more obvious and correct answer.)

“Scottish king that beat the English”
"Malcolm, Bruce, James, they’re bloody all called James, it’s gotta be James!”
(It wasn't, but I was laughing too hard to find out who it really was.)

“It’s when you call a ceasefire!”
“Give up!”
(True, but I think the word on the card was "truce".)

“When you bang things together they are…”
(Collision - but again, loud is probably accurate too.)

“God counts the fall of every one of them, small flying things?”
(Starlings are generally more often seen with wings than kittens. Well, NOW they tell me.)

“It’s a safe place that you go to hide…”
(Matt's duvet is his "sanctuary" but it wasn't close enough...)

“Actor, black-and-white, very sexy?”
“Charlie Chaplin!”
(In my defence, I started speaking before the sexy bit was added.)

“I think it’s the capital of Spain.”
“No, it’s not the capital of Spain, is it?”
(Milan and Madrid used to confuse me as well.)


And then the ones where answers were obvious but descriptions cracked us up:
"Like a DVD but crap and with tracking issues!”

“It’s small and spiky and lives in bonfires!”

"The patron thingy of Scotland!"

“Horse with lumps!”

"The Star Wars guy who isn't Disney!"

“Trouser…” followed by a wiggly hand motion

So, plenty added to my wishlist, including an embosser label maker which can be far more fun than you'd think if you use it in, er, different ways. (They labelled the underside of the coffee table "maybe you should stop drinking" and I labelled my Kindle "not a book".)

And, thanks to Cards Against Humanity, the word "dickfingers" will be forever hilarious. Think Edward Scissorhands, but more phallic. We think.

I left threatening to return sometime before the end of June. That gives us 26 weekends, and I've only written 3 of them out of my calendar so far. I'm sure it's doable...

And now it's Monday, and I'm three hours and four mugs of coffee into my day, and only just waking up. Definitely a sign of a good weekend.
tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
I am in Scotland.

On Friday evening, my host and I were visited by two policemen enquiring about an incident that had happened the night before, involving a woman falling from a third floor window of a nearby building.

Honestly, I would have been quite happy to settle for Irn Bru consumption to create the full Glaswegian experience.
Jan. 12th, 2010 05:06 pm


tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)
Cambridge is still as magical as ever. I half wonder if it's purely psychological, but I do actually feel a little better inside the reality bubble, as I have every time before now.

When you need an escape from real life for a few days, I don't think anywhere else could quite do the trick.
Aug. 29th, 2009 01:49 pm


tajasel: Katie, with a purple wig on. (Default)

I've just spent a lovely few days camping in Grizedale Forest in the Lakes. We found a campsite that would let us light a fire, and is a stone's throw from GoApe!, which was excellent.

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