Alaköl Audani bearing a very close resemblance to the Sungkyunkwan University Logo
I was browsing the Earth as you do (or at least as I do) following this tweet from Tim Peake on board the ISS:
While trying to locate those mountains I zoomed in on a rather intriguing formation which looked like a bit of human engineering - it was indeed a river delta which has been massively utilised for farming right in the far reaches of the east of Kazakhstan near the border with China. I then realised that the formation looked quite like a ginkgo leaf which is the logo for my Father-in-law's university in South Korea - Sungkyunkwan (also the oldest). Sadly when I checked the logo online I realised that the land formation is instead the mirror reflection of the logo. Here they are side by side. For your interest the geographic coordinates are: 46.040012N, 81.036736E near the town of Alaköl Audani
Alaköl Audani bearing a very close resemblance to the Sungkyunkwan University Logo
Here is a dilema I face remarkably often: if there is something I don't like, should I dilute it in order to make it weaker but longer, or have a short sharp but horrible hit? Most recently occurrence of this is with tea. My usual supplier, The Daily Bread Cooperative in Cambridge used to stock really nice "breakfast" tea, by which I believe they meant Assam. Either way, it was a really good taste, strong but smooth loose tea. Sadly some time last year their supplier failed meaning they were out of stock for months. Then when they finally got more stock in the quality was significantly reduced - much more dusty than it used to be making a much rougher cup (yes, this is going to be one of those dull blog posts I'm afraid). Dr K brought a bag recently and we found that not only is the quality still rubbish, but also it has gone up by nearly £1 (~+20%) [yes, this is a grumpy moan @DB_Cambridge].
Anyway, to my problem. It has crossed my mind that I could simply ditch the tea, but I hate being wasteful, so I feel compelled to consume it. Now should I buy some other tea which is nicer - say Clipper Loose Assam - and mix it together to make the worse tea better? Of course this also makes the nice tea worse and also last longer all round. Or shall I try and work through the worse tea keeping the nice stuff separate so that occasionally reward myself with a nice pot? The same thing has happened at work when I brought some Coop loose tea only to discover that, surprise surprise, it's equally dusty rubbish (actually, it's remarkably identically to the Daily Bread tea - suspicious?
Forget my dilemna. Where can I buy nice tea nowadays?
This is perhaps the most well orchestrated music video I have ever seen. As far as I can see there are no cuts, instead they all hold position while the plane bottoms out of the zero G parabola and the video is smoothly zoomed forward. Very very nice, hypnotic even. I like the uplifting music beat too.
It felt like one of those evening in which I needed to watch Grand Designs, and I knew I happened to have one still saved from the the most recent series (County Antrim 2015). It pretty much followed the usual flow from massive undertaking, through huge debt to wondrous conclusion and amazing space. It really never fails to get me hooked.
I've been watching since the very beginning (I was enthralled by Kevin McCloud's previous series about scaling the UK's famous architecture which must have been in 2000 perhaps - Wikipedia reveals that to have been a BBC2 series called Don't Look Down). Dang! I should have been an architect.
The slight difference this evening was the feeling that perhaps I could still one day build my own home one day. I suppose I'm too late to be on GD as I've already had my first child (everyone knows that the "now his wife is pregnant" is the cliff hanger with which to go to the first advert break). But I could perhaps, if I sold our house and took out a new massive mortgage, build my own house one day. Friends of mine from Cheltenham did it only recently in their retirement - Colemans Hill Ecobuild. It would allow use to escape the stale confines of East Anglia where views don't exist and skies are not (despite what the locals will have you believe) enormous - for enormous skies go to Seattle where the sky reaches from the Space Needle right over to Mt Rainier 100 km's away. That would be something to aim for and what is money for other than for sinking into the folly of a grand designs project which shou ld outlive me. The only real decision would be where to move to?
I had a lovely early morning with the little boy after he woke at half five. I was pretty knackered initially but perked up pretty soon, and pleased I did as he was so super chatty and laughing at me and with me. It was just super. We snacked on some malted wheat flakes, looked at each other through our legs and explored the utility room. He even managed three separate poos on the potty (that's five in total now) along with a couple of wees! :) He spent most of the few hours before his nap holding a pencil and chewing the end. He has a penchant for pens so I'm not surprised he liked the pencil, plus it seemed to taste good - he munched on the led leaving dark marks around his face and on his teeth which is all probably fine. That was not before I tried to show him how to draw with it on the newspaper which he seemed to find exceedingly entertaining watching the mark come out of the end. He didn't have much luck drawing there but I did find later that he'd made some good swirls and lines around the kitchen draws. Eventually he got a bit grumpy and frustrated so I took him to bed where drifted easily off to sleep as did I - I needed a nap too.
What was odd was that a little later in the morning as we were watching him in the bedroom looking out of the window excitedly at the moving machines, I mentioned that I'd had a lovely morning with him but immediately realised I couldn't remember anything about it or why it was lovely. Things that are otherwise normal have such a tendency to slip out of the mind. This is so sad when we really had had fun. So this is why I sat down to write this post, and only in doing so did I remember the pencil and three poos. Had I not, these would have been lost to the mists of time.
I realise I can't begin to expect to remember everything, but it really is important to record some of the usual things that happen, things that otherwise would be lost. I find photography is not sufficient for this as taking out the camera is usually only triggered by an event of some such. But in words the humble everyday can be recorded. Which makes me suspect that this is just the sort of thing that other people (i.e. you the reader) are less interested in. So forgive my indulgence in writing this mostly for future me.
PS. How do you spell poo and wee?
yes, there is poo on my website
I can't remember if I wrote anything about our NCT classes last year. I was, as far as I can remember, not in a great mental state over the winter feeling a mix of feelings about the loss of youth, the loss of freedom and the prospect of completing the first turn of the wheel of life. I also remember that I didn't have a strong connected with our unborn child - the bump was growing but I didn't feel much. I suspect I was putting things off (well, we were also in the middle of a rather massive building project at home which required the cutting of a window in the wall, external insulation and re-carpeting of the new internal landing, so I was probably quite stressed with that. In fact I seem to remember that the feeling of not wanting Dr K to give birth grew almost exponentially as the time drew nearer, that final two weeks I was madly appreciating every quiet calm evening.
However, what I wanted to write down here is the change brought about by our attendance of the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) course. We joined the Cottenham branch as that was the only one nearby. One thing that made it really extra special was that a yoga friend of Dr K had coincidentally joined the same course and, having a car, was offering to give us a lift. As a result we had a number of consecutive weeks where she would come for a bit of dinner that I made before we all set off arriving invariably a little late. The thing that the NCT class gave me, other than the opportunity to ask questions and meet others in a similar situation (and thereby confront my ignorance) was a sudden connection to the past - it reminded me of the past me who had really longed for a baby and to be a dad. That was such an important piece of my journey to becoming one.
I woke up recently in a bit of a hazy state - this was not alcohol induced, rather due to a baby child - and as the world came into clear view I was momentarily taken back to my childhood bedroom. What I could see from my bed, something about the way the door looked, or how the light and shadows were cast, made my think I was back home waking up in Cheltenham. But not like waking up in Cheltenham now (as I still do when we visit), but the view from bed just as it was when I was young (the bed was in a different location then). It even had the feeling of my bedroom when I was young. I couldn't work out how old I was; it was exceedingly visceral like a super strong bout of deja-vu. As I came round and managed to work out that I was in Cambridge and that I was now grown up, it did make me more than a little sad for the time past. As if my inner child, the me who I was, slipped back into the distant past after having just moments before been here with me. Perhaps I will have more of these as I get older, will they make me increasingly sad for the time slipping away. Realise that when I was that young boy I was well aware that I was young and that I was quite happy not growing up for exactly these reasons, I dreaded the passage of time and the fact that one day I would not be there. Was I implanting future points in my life with connections to the past? OK, gone too far there, I'm sure it was just a fleeting memory feeling which is totally normal. But I do carry that sense of sadness for my growing up and now I've created a new generation these thoughts and feelings are only more real and vivid, especially now that I witness how quickly babies grow up. A lmost terrifying.
I'm really enjoying the BBC Radio 4 programme called More Or Less which was was highlighted to me by an ex-colleague. It has a lovely presenting style with some lovely gently deprecating, ever-so-british humour, on the edge of silly (slapstick even), often breaking the 4th wall. They are always asking for listener questions and this is what sent in about the UK's so-called housing crisis. (At least I think I sent it in; I might have forgotten).
I found this on the BBC website: The government says it wants a million homes built in England by 2020. The National Housing Federation estimated 974,000 homes were needed between 2011 and 2014 but figures from 326 councils showed only 457,490 were built. This suggests that we are 516,510 homes short. Assuming at the very least single occupancy, does this suggest there are over half a million people without houses? Where are all these people living currently? Or is there a certain requirement for a certain number of empty homes to exist in order to sustain the system?