Tuesday, 28 January 2014

i wonder...

I wonder if Uncle Toni is putting Rafael Nadal's socks on for him after his recent back injury crisis in the final of the Australian Open? And is Rafa griping at him through clenched teeth that he's sick of all of it, and maybe it's time to give up pro sport?

Probably not (I bet there's a dedicated sock support team).

I wonder all of this as I sit at home nursing another tweaked back, (popped a rib this time). I feel like I have been to the osteopath more times in the last year than in the previous ten put together. Today the clouds are clearing, and I am baking banana muffins while contemplating my options.

Is it time to give up pro sport horticulture?
What am I going to do for the next 15 years?
How do I get paid for what's between my earholes
- rather than my ability to dig a hole?

Due to the precarious funding situation currently facing the cultural sector in Wales, Mr Asparagus Pea and I regularly have the 'You could be a ship's captain, I could be a carpet fitter' conversation. This morning I did one of those slightly daft, online psychometric tests, as part of a more serious attempt to audit my transferrable skills.

Turns out I have the same 'personality type' as Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Tony Blair.
So maybe world domination is not out of the question after all…

I don't know what the answer is - I'm mulling over a few ideas though.
In the meantime big thanks to Mr A-P for putting up with looking after me.

me at the eisteddfod last year looking at Dinbych Saith
mr a-p in front of street art during Made in Roath 2013

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

the world turns

It's been a big few weeks here at Asparagus Towers. My eldest stepson left the nest, so we have a couple of months to strip the room out and redecorate, before his little brother finishes uni and takes up residence there. Big brother got the big room when we moved, because he was just about to graduate and wanted to come home for a bit. Now the wheel has turned and he's flown off to Southern Europe, so it seems right that little bro should be given the same options.

This has prompted something of a cleaning frenzy on my part - sorting through clothes, washing woolies, scrubbing and waxing floors like something out of Downton Abbey. I'm not normally prone to feverish levels of housework - I like to maintain basic food hygiene standards in the kitchen, but other than that I favour what I would regard as a normal level of sluttishness on the domestic front. But somehow this feels like the right time to refresh things.

So with a nod to Martha Stewart, I would like to show you a couple of shots of the hall floor!?!

As you can see from the panel on the left, normal mopping has always left it looking pretty grubby.
Four months of buliders in the house had only made matters worse. 
The panel on the right has been scrubbed with a paste of bio laundry detergent...

The dirt just floats right on out! 
(Should have flipped this pic so the clean/dirty sides were the same way round -
 that's what Martha would have done!)
I think it was the plumber at the old house who gave me this tip.

Other reasons to be cheerful this week include:

New christmas slippers - finally chose these after a couple of false starts.
 Now I can go out to the compost bin and wood shed to get logs,
(my old ones did not have an outdoor sole).
 I may have to take up yodelling though.

The new study is taking shape - oh, and what's that on the door?

My name! 
I'm claiming this space mostly for me, to write and think, and have books and craft stuff.
 Mr A-P did tentatively suggest that the kitchen and laundry could be mine, 
but we soon agreed they were for all of us!

I finished the hedge I was laying at work…

It's about 30m long and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.
All the hazel catkins that were way up in the air, are now down where you can see them
- dancing in the sunlight on a January morning.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

iron age connections

It's January and I'm hedge laying again - different garden to last year. Then, I was tucked away from the public gaze, this time I'm slap bang in the middle of the museum, where the world and his wife and their dog walk by on their way around and back. I'm still not producing the most classically beautiful laid hedge - but I'm confident enough to have a go and be judged, (and goodness me does everyone have an opinion about the hedges. Who knew!?!).

work in progress

On Wednesday the museum was closed for an all-staff training day. The afternoon was a chance to do taster sessions with other departments, and one of my choices was 'iron age tools'. We're having a new iron age Celtic village - how's that for an oxymoron? It will be a reconstruction of a site in Anglesey called Bryn Eryr (hill of eagles). Our blacksmith has made replicas of all the iron age wood-working tools that we have in the collection - the idea is to try and extrapolate what kind of wooden objects might have populated the dwellings by looking at the tools. Hardly any wooden objects survive from this period - some notable exceptions were found in waterlogged ground at the Glastonbury Lake Village site in the Somerset Levels. As I looked at a well thumbed photocopy of an image* of the finds I knew I was looking at the contents of my wheelbarrow from the day before.

The saw even has the teeth set to only cut on the pull stroke - exactly like my pruning saw.

If I had a really strong arm, I could throw a stone across the Bristol Channel and hit the spot where these tools were found. It's a weird feeling to be so separated from these people by time, but so intimately connected by the work of our hands. I'm not suggesting they were hedge laying - the great push to enclose the land was much later, but this is surely evidence of a people managing their landscape in a way that I would recognise.

*Had trouble finding an image credit for this but I think it's from the original photo record of the excavation - and it's reproduced here

Thursday, 2 January 2014

christmas memories

Being born in New Zealand means that my childhood Christmas memories are all summery. So looking at everybody's recent posts from Down Under has made me feel quite nostalgic at this time of year. I was inspired by the work of genius that was Mel's Aussie Christmas pavlova (as featured on her blog Bungalow Bliss), to get out my beautiful vintage tablecloth to share with you. It was a gift from Mr Asparagus Pea a couple of years ago. I had admired it in a vintage shop, but when I went back intending to buy, it was gone. That Christmas I found it wrapped up for me under the tree - clever boy!

It has native flora and fauna…

..as well as depictions of farming, fishing and industry.

I'm not sure how old it is, but I would guess late 60's/early 70's. 
My parents emigrated from London to NZ in 1962 (I think?!?).

If I ever decide to have an Australia Day party it would make a good centrepiece.

Just need to find a Kiwi one now to go with it...

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

what we wore - new years day

Christmas in the Asparagus Pea household this year was a bit of a curate's egg*. 
We'll gloss over the sucky bits and give thanks to those who did their best to help keep the festive plates spinning while we sailed through choppy waters.
So the tree was out the door by Monday and new brooms have been sweeping.
Mr Asparagus Pea had a (long overdue) audit of his clothing hoard, and a significant pile has been earmarked for charity.
As a reward we went and bought him a lovely new outfit in the sales - it's easy for men huh? 

I got a new hat.

Mr A-P:
Jacket: Barbour
Shirt: Paul Smith
Trousers: Fred Perry
Shoes and Glasses: Model's own

Hat: Fred Perry
Coat: Two Danes
Cardigan: Kiwi Arts (vintage)
Scarf: Birthday gift from eldest stepson

Happy New Year everyone...
 ..hope your new brooms are sweeping too

*good in parts