Tuesday 29 July 2008

i stand on the edge

and i find myself gazing longingly into the DEEP, hungering after the unknown, yet still i hesitate to jump in

Wednesday 23 July 2008


if you do ever happen perchance to dine at Wadham college, Oxford, PLEASE do appreciate the way the sauce packets line up face forwards in every bowl (6 of each and 3 of the vinegar); the perfectly aligned lamps; the buffed glasses; the meticulously layed cutlery 1mm from the table edge; the spotless mats and the wiped down benches and all the other details that i'm sure no one would notice yet please know that before every meal much time is spent ensuring NOTHING is out of place. and spare a thought for the waiters/waitresses who under the extremely (slightly OCD-ed?) eye of the hall managers learn exactly how to place each item on the table only to immediately have everything corrected.

im back there at 7:30 tomorrow morning.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

it's good to remember the things you love to do

like camping, being outside, climbing trees and playing 4o-40-in in the woods. which is what we did for my friend Esther's hen party this weekend. None of your devil's horns, high heels and drunken pub/club crawls. no no, not for this girl. although there was a not-particularly-sexy rabbit mask/head gear...

9 of us went to the New Forest (stopping for dares at a service station!), another beautiful place that i love but haven't been to for ages. It was good to smell the familiar blend of bracken/tree(duh!)/pony . After having to sweet talk the ladies in charge to let us stay in the "full" site, we set up camp in one of the areas that must be reserved for (rowdy) teenagers. In fact there was a group of 17 year-old boys nearby who lent us a mallet and table but then hung around for a little too long. (No offence but... we're all 21 and this is a HEN party!). the skillllllz of the ex-scouts and offspring-of-camping-fanatics among us (yes that might include me :o) ) proved to be alive and kicking as we set up 3 tents and got the BBQ going pretty quick. It had to be quick because it was vaguely raining and we were by then very hungry.

burgers, sausages, sweets and a few games later we were all pretty tired. A lot of us have known each other for years and it still seems so surreal that this summer marriages and qualifying as teachers/various therapists is on the cards. What i'm trying to say is people were tired from doing real life grown up things the rest of the week. (that DOESN'T include me... :-S)

so it wasn't a mad night but that meant we were all up around 7am ready to make the most of the day. I love waking up and getting straight out of the tent because it's too stuffy to stay in it and there you are outside in sky and grass and trees and pyjamas and sleepy faces. Camping is so familiar to me yet i know a lot of people never go. And then you realise the unwritten things that you've learnt along the way. Like trekking to the toilets, locating the washing up room, filling water bottles at the tap, always having a torch, that tent walls do NOT block out sound, that the toilets will be closed for cleaning at an inconvenient time, tripping over guy ropes, the right way to put in a tent peg... LOVE IT!

After packing up we drove down to Lepe which is by the sea. Forest and sea all in one. nice. There Abbie and Sanna - the wonderful organisers - set us more challenges and games. Competetive natures came to the surface, not for the first time. Like in the tug of war, who lets go because the thin rope was too painful to keep a hold on? (that would be me) and who doesnt let go no matter what despite the rope actually taking the skin off their hands? (uhhh... nearly everyone else, especially Esther!). It was in the final round of 40-40-in (some people have other names for this game...) when i finally felt i'd got back to 'my roots' - literally- as i scrambled stealthily through the undergrowth in an attempt to reach the tree in the middle of the clearing without Esther seeing me. Suddenly i was 6 in my great aunt's garden, 8 in the bushes in the Lime Pits park in basingstoke, 11 at boy-scouts, 12 playing a wide game at Ndubaluba, 14 on Bronze duke of edinburg expedition, 16 in the lake district... not student, not waitress, not clubber - not those labels that might define me when i'm in oxford or brighton or anywhere town/city ish - just katrina and the 'great outdoors' (cheeeeeesey!! haha!). and covered in tree sap from climbing it and scratched by thorns and happy. by the way i did make it 'back to base'. score.

a pub lunch, more games of 'empire' and chilled afternoon watching enchanted and playing 'spoons' (not SO chilled owing to those same competetive natures!) and it was time to go home. a perfect hen party i'd say.

i'm sure there'll be more to come soon on camping (going properly next week. woop!) and the lovely Esther and her wedding...

Monday 21 July 2008

family reunion

motley crew on afternoon walk after big lunch

(i love the way the fields in the background came out!)

Friday 18 July 2008

a thousand splendid suns

i just finished reading this book by Khaled Hosseini. I really like the title. Like his previous book, 'the Kite Runner', it took me a while to get into, but then i read the bulk of it over 24 hours! Which i'm not sure is a good thing. I think reading fast maybe makes you lose some of the intensity of the story... i'm not sure. I always read the back cover of a book to see what it's about but i think sometimes they are misleading, or raise your hopes, or channel your attention in a certain direction. They often emphasize one point over everything else that often doesn't seem to be SO central in the end. But i guess everyone will get struck by different parts, themes, people, depending on who they are.

What struck me, most of all, towards the end when the chapters began to be headed by dates i can actually remember and events i saw myself on the news (i guess this is part of 1. getting older and 2. new books) was that this story really could be the story of hundreds of people still living today. that Afghanistan's past is still very present. How many people still live in in fear and sleep with nightmares?

"I'm sorry," Laila says, marvelling at how every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and imaginable grief (p.350)

it made me want to grieve for this ravaged beautiful land. but i don't know how. suddenly it seemed a little bit closer, a little bit more real. yet still, so very very far away.

Thursday 17 July 2008

be and be not afraid (Tracy Chapman)

I believe in mistakes and accidents
That the nature of life is chaos and confusion
That man's rules of law and order may not stand
I should be and be not afraid to reach for heaven
I may think that I know the true hearts needs
My pride may bring me low, unable to see
No closer than yesterday, but tomorrow I may stand
Be and be not afraid to reach for heaven
I'll see the black car cavalcade, lights on in the morn
I'll run fast and far away,
I'll run without stopping
Till heart and feet fail or until I can stand
Be and be not afraid
Be and be not afraid
Be and be not afraid to reach for heaven

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Brick Lane

On Sunday, as well as going to the breaking battle, i hung out in Brick Lane with an American friend who i knew in Sevilla who was passing through London on her way to the States (get that?).
I realised i've never acually been to Brick Lane before, despite having studied it's regenaration in Geography at school and feeling like i've heard lots about it. And i guess i'm behind the times because what struck me wasn't the Bangladeshi influence but the incredible amount of "arty/trendy" whatever-you-want-to-call-them-young-people filling the narrow streets and markets, sitting outside eating international cuisine and perusing the art galleries. what struck me most was the juxtaposition (good word) of the fluorescent colours of 80's inspired outfits - bright pink shoe laces, blue tights, yellow rimmed sunglasses and of the lit-up take away signs... against the faded greys of slightly dilapidated buildings and the tired faces of the street sellers and their second hand goods. how i wished i had not forgotten my camera battery. and, also, that i could be invisible when it comes to taking photos because i feel it can be quite imposing and i love to capture people's faces, and that i knew more about light... because i would have wanted to capture the brightness and the darkness all at once. anyways. i didn't. just a few quick shots with my friend's camera that i'll put up if they came out OK.

i did find this photo though, which doesn't have much to do with what i just said but it is from Brick Lane and i like it!

'Brick Lane launderette 1982' Phil Maxwell

Aside from photos, it also struck me again how London is a whole other world. Ademas, it's hundreds of different worlds all in one place. Which i find exciting. But also realise i am very much not a part of any one of those worlds. I felt like an intruder walking down the crowded streets. I wonder how the inhabitants of Brick Lane feel about the area being the "place to be" for a group of people of a very different culture. I know this is no phenomenon, that loads of place evolve over time, see waves of new nationalities/class flow in then out, buildings rise and crumble, reputations change... and it always makes me wonder what it's like for the people who remain.


i hate being sick. hate having to miss out on doing things just because my body says so. and although at times i'd like an excuse to stay home and catch up on emails, photos etc... i can't seem to concentrate on that either. so i just end up feeling very lazy and restless even though the aim i suppose is to rest. so i've been quite busy the last few weeks but didn't think i was over-the-top... but since sunday have felt really crap and slept 11 hours then 15 hours the last 2 nights. hmm. anyways, nuff complaining, i guess it's not the worst time to be ill, and hopefully will be recovered in time fo hen-night-camping-beach fun this weekend.

and... i have managed to catch up with a couple of friends on the phone and also take photos of photos, which sad as it seems is something i wanted to do for a while. so here you are: the fruits of my labours... some photos from 5 years ago, back before the digital formed an intrinsic part of my life, on an amazing RE-visit to Zambia, where i lived between 1999-2001.
victoria falls: one of the most amazing places i have ever been too. absolutely breathtaking. on the border between zambia and zimbabwe, they are the longest falls in the worldMount Sancha... we walked the 7 or 8 kilometres to the base, camped in a clearing underneath just mosquito nets, and climbed the big lump of rock the next day!

some of the girls from my school year, saying goodbye at Manda Hill shopping centre, Lusakaone of my best friends, Mad. (and me, 5 years ago!)

Monday 14 July 2008

regional conflict

this was yesterday at the sony ericsson regional conflict finals 2008 at the Carling academy, Islington. check the guy removing his shirt when he flips!

are you tired? worn out? burned out on religion? come to me. get away with me and you'll recover your life. i'll show you how to take a real rest. walk with me and work with me - watch how i do it. learn the unforced rhythms of grace. i won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.
jesus (Matthew 11:28, the message)

Friday 11 July 2008

west wittering

i've recently put up a list of my favourite places. some are special to me because of their stunning natural beauty. but more than that each one is wrapped up in a hundred memories, be it from one day, one week or uncountable visits. Like this one. West Wittering, where my grandparents lived my whole life in the pink house on the corner with roses lining the paths of the garden in which we played countless games of hide and seek. It's a 5 minute walk to the "top of the creek" where people fly kites and you can see sailing boats in the distance on chichester harbour. a further 10 minutes past the crab pool to the "real sea" where the beach is sandy and the dunes pile up in the wind. it looks different every time i go. this is the wonder of creation. familiar yet never ever the same. seasons and wind and rain and time and light and shadow shape infinite faces. high tide pushes the waves up high and windsurfers attempt to conquer them while low tide reveals the expanse of sand speckled by pools of water where toddlers paddle and children swim.
i love it! it's one of those places that if its grey makes me think and talk to the One above and if it's sunny makes me sing as i walk and dance in the waves whether i'm by myself or not.

Thursday 10 July 2008

what we need

"What we really need is God. What we really need is someone who loves us so much we don't worry about death...
We need this; we need this so we can love other people purely and not for selfish gain,
we need this so we can see everybody as equals,
we need this so our relationships can be sincere,
we need this so we can stop kicking outselves around,
we need this so we can lose all self-awareness and find ourselves for the first time,
not by realizing some dream, but by being told who we are by the only Being who has the authority to know, by that i mean the Creator."
Donald Miller 'Searching for God knows what' p.110

Sunday 6 July 2008

anna and sam

this weekend my friend anna got married. she's only a bit older than me, and most of the people a the wedding were our age, which makes me feel a little bit like we're all just pretending... but it was real, and they are now husbad and wife, and it really is exciting - but in terms of the rest of their life, not so much one surreal dressed up day. but its a celebration no?, and we did celebrate. and it was good.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

flight of the conchords

are a comedy musical duo from New Zealand who make me laugh SO much. and i don't laugh at everything... :o)

some favourites: "business time" - a classic, and now there are some music videos they have made to some of their songs which are HILARIOUS! i especially like "Hiphopopotamous vs Rhymenoceros" and "She's so hot - boom" but haven't watched them all yet... am saving them for a rainy day!

Tuesday 1 July 2008

the agency.

you are woken by a phone call at about 9am. it works just as well as an alarm clock. and, if they don't call, then you don't need to get up that early anyways. you try to hide the sleep in your voice as T or G greets you with a "can you work this morning?". you have an hour to shower, find a clean white shirt, the black skirt that's hiding in the back of a wardrobe somewhere and force yourself into your sister's old school shoes because you haven't yet got round to buying any black shoes of your own, wrestle your bike out of the shed (why is it always the one on the bottom of the pile?!) and cycle madly into town while simultaneously trying not to break into too much of a sweat. you arrive at the agency, catching your breath, walking past the assorted group of people waiting to speak to the polish/english speaking receptionist and go straight to T or G who hand you a timesheet and a map if it's somewhere you haven't been to before. it's usually one of the oxford university colleges and usually waitressing for some conference or other.

you find today's work location, lock up the bike among one hundred others (this is oxford!) and catch sight of someone else in black and white so follow them as you know from experience that the kitchen entrance is often hard to find and you are already running a bit late. you tell yourself yet again that you really should buy some more comfortable shoes. you enter the kitchen/dining hall and try to cool-y glance around looking for someone who is most likely in charge and will tell you where to put your bags and what to do. you smile and wave to italian man who's name you always forget who you worked with in the same place a year ago. and probably the year before that. the other agency staff are usually congregated together in a mismatch of blacksandwhites. there is a camaraderie between them. today there is german girl who's been in england 10 years and studied geography and sustainable development at brookes, polish girl who's just been travelling for 4 months and wants to go back to Mexico (after she's learned spanish). there's portuguese man who grew up in Venezuela and shy, shaggy-haired english boys who don't talk and a whole host more of polish girls.

sometimes it feels agency staff are thought to be stupid and slow and lazy. they are often shouted at. and it often takes a while to feel 'welcomed' by the permanent staff who often seem reluctant to show you the ropes. while there may some truth in that, there is also a lot to say in defence. half of the time things are not explained well by those supervising, and this is worse for those who do not speak good english. you are caught in the dilemma of not knowing what to do next yet trying to look busy. working in a different place everyday makes one flexible and teaches one many ways of doing things but can also be confusing. one college clears the desert plates before putting on the cheese while the other puts the cheese on before serving the desert (pudding?). in one place you must pour the coffee for each person and in another they do it themselves. etc. subtle differences that majorly stress out other staff if done wrong! all of this creates a bond, a sense of a united front against the unjustified irritation often pointed in their direction.

the hours pass, the guests come and eat and go. water jugs are filled countless times, right arms ache under the weight of plates (need to build up my muscles!), fingers burnt on hot vegetable dishes. there are near collisions in the kitchen, the manager criticises, half the table request tea instead of coffee. white shirts get stained with gravy and chocolate sauce. the agency staff share raised eyebrows and tired smiles and wonder what time they will finish.

we could find a job with regular hours an significantly more pay. we could have some consistency in our lives. yet we don't. we chose to wait for the morning call and show up at another new place, not knowing what is instore. or showing up somewhere we've been before and possibly dreading it. because we might not be around next week and we like the fact we can say no (or just not answer the phone) and if we work somewhere crap today tomorrow we'll be somewhere different and we get to meet all kinds of people (and try all different kinds of food) and really it's just a pretty good deal and rather suits these lives we chose to lead.