Thursday, 20 December 2007

Lincoln Christmas Market

A couple of weekends ago the Christmas Market came to town. Lincoln has a rather famous Christmas Market, being one of the first English cities to really take up the German tradition years before the current trend in the UK to have small markets dotted here and there. Of course they are nothing compared to the real German Christmas Markets (of which I was lucky enough to frequent the year I was working in Berlin) but they will do!

This year was my first year to visit the Christmas Market in many - because for some reason I always seem to be away the weekend it comes. So I decided to invite T to come and see it because it felt like a very romantic thing to do and as I've never had anyone to share it with I thought it would be extra special.

Of course, the Lincoln Christmas Market runs from Thursday to Sunday and althought T wasn't arriving until the Saturday I still managed to go visit on Friday... and do you know why? Because my student (who is in a wheelchair) had never been and really wanted to go. So I pushed her almost all of the way up the hill (she had to get out and walk very slowly and unsteadily for the last bit of the really steep section because although we would have made it she kept getting nervous when every few steps I'd have to say "put on the brakes" *blushes*). Well you try pushing someone heavier than you up a really, really steep incline and see how well you do :op

Needless to say, however much I loved taking her up to the Market, I much preferred the more leisurely route I took with my sweetheart Saturday evening when everything was lit up and seemingly magical. We saw this beautiful music player (although T had to wait for ages for a teenage lad to stop dancing and jumping in front of his camera to take this picture - I'm glad he was taking this one because I might have just yelled at the lad out of sheer frustration at his rudeness)

We then found the "mediaevil craft market" in the Bishop's Palace and around the Cathedral Quarter (the rest of the market was in the castle grounds and round another tourist area of Lincoln). We saw some Romany painted pieces and the most gorgeous caravan (but unfortunately the picture quality is too low to share with you as all the photos were taken on T's phone as neither of us have a proper camera at the moment).

We then went into the Bishop's Palace and into the ruins to see even more handmade crafts. These masks were just so beautiful, the picture does them no justice at all.

It was all just so festive and, as I had suspected, romantic - walking around sharing Mulled Wine and looking at all the festive wares *sigh*. What a way to begin the year's festivities!!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

For the first time ever...

... I'm wishing Christmas away

I know, I know - shocked gasps and double takes all round... I love Christmas, always have done and always will. This year I really thought was the year for me because in recent years Christmas has lost some of its sparkle... let's see...

Christmas 2004 I worked in Germany from September til 12th December so when I came home it felt like I'd never been away and I just could not convince myself it was Christmas already and all my shopping had to be done in a mad rush the weekend before Christmas *sigh*

Christmas 2005 I was in my final year at uni. I had been incredibly ill after an operation in the summer and my health was really flagging after returning to uni whilst still ill and having weekly deadlines. By the time the holidays came I was so tired I couldn't gather enough energy to really enjoy going out, spending time with friends, looking for special presents for each of them etc

Christmas 2006 I had just started working at the nursery and was sick, sick, sick... I almost didn't come home for Christmas because I was so ready to just sleep for the 4 days I had off. Once again Christmas passed me by because for me Christmas is not just Christmas day (in fact Christmas day isn't even the highlight for me now that the excitement of childhood has passed - now Advent is much more enjoyable, singing carols and finding presents for those I love and then wrapping them beautifully...)

So this year I thought would be my year!!! Alas... since starting a relationship with T, my life has pretty much revolved around trying to see him in my free time whilst not forgetting my other friends too much and making sure I still have enough energy left after all the travelling (trains are NOT much fun these days) to do my job well. So the very fact that the only time we ever get together is split over 2 days when one or both of us is exhausted and the rest of the family all want to meet us/see us etc we decided we had to make some time to get away and be together on our own over the New Year...

Here comes the best part.... T's sister, her husband and their daughter are off for a few days over the week between Christmas and New Year and have asked us to house sit and told us they are more than happy for us to use their house as a refuge for a few days peace and quiet, curled up watching good movies and tv specials, eating good food, and simply enjoying having each other to ourselves and not having to share the other with anybody else (yay!)

So can you see why, for once, I am actually half willing Christmas to hurry up and be gone so that I can get to those glorious days alone with my sweetheart? I know, I know I am going to make the most of the festive days and enjoy being with my other friends and family - but you know how it is in those first few months of a relationship, right? And long-distance is not the funnest of ways to begin such a thing...

Counting down the days - not long now - yippee!!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

I'm a blogging slacker

Sooooooo sorry for the lack of updates - I promise to post something over the next few days - but for now I am off to bed to sleep off the Christmas dinner and wine I just had (ok 5 sips of wine but for someone who doesn't drink that's a LOT!!!) and catch up on the sleep I have not had for the past 2 months lol

Sweet dreams xxx

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

So bad...

I am so bad at keeping up with this blogging malarkey *blushes*.

I have so much I could have blogged about but my time at the moment just seems to be taken up with work, talking to my darling bf and travelling all over the UK to either spend some time with him ('cos we don't live in the same town) or meeting friends I've met online and want to meet in person.

Things are going so well with my bf. We met each other online just after I left Cambridge (which is where he lives). We fast became friends and started seeing each other every so often for the weekend to just have some fun together with a like-minded person (he is so like me in so many ways it is unbelievable... I will expand on this in a later post I hope).

When we both discovered we actually wanted more than friendship I was so excited but my fears of intimacy got the better of me and I actually screwed the whole thing up. Thankfully my bf is a wonderful, caring individual and he helped me to feel safe enough to share my fears with him and he persuaded me to make more time for me to really sort out how I was feeling (another reason why I have not been online so much recently).

Last time we spent the weekend together was wonderful and I am so looking forward to seeing him again this weekend for his sister's wedding *big grin* (Hopefully I'll also have a picture or two of the darling boy after that!!). On a friendship level things couldn't be better - it's the intimacy I am not used to and on one awful weekend I got so stressed out I threw up.

I am so happy but so exhausted from all this travelling and I looking forward to Christmas and less travelling and hopefully getting to spend more than a couple of days with him at a time over the holiday period.

I've been keeping up as best I could with the blogging world, just not blogging myself. I hope to get a bit more posted over the coming weeks. But if I don't manage it... please forgive me...

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

In high spirits

I must ask you all to a) excuse the quality of this picture because it was only taken with my laptop's camera due to the fact my real camera is broken and b) the state of my room when this photo was taken because I was in a hurry to take it before I forgot completely and the roses started to wilt and I didn't have time to make the scene look prettier.

This is what came for me the other day - twenty roses! I've never had even one rose given me and suddenly twenty arrive on my doorstep!! You should have seen the look of absolute shock followed quickly by a pleasured blush which adorned my face that morning.

This week is turning into a real high for me - I met an online friend for the first time on Saturday and had my first ever manicure at her salon. Then I get roses. And my new boyfriend, who is the most sensitive and loving guy I have ever met, is coming to visit on Friday and we are planning a wonderful weekend to speand together. How much more can a girl want?

Well, a good job would be a start... oh yes, I've got that!!

How about a new laptop? Got that one too hehe

I've got it... a beautiful dress? Ha! Got that too - ready to wear to the wedding in December and apparantly the colours will go perfectly with the ties the men are wearing (now how did I know that when I bought it?)

Sorry to gloat... how awful of me! But I just cannot help it - my life is just so perfect right now I cannot help singing for joy.

Feel free to shoot me if you wish - I probably won't even notice!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Feeling lost...

I had the most wonderful weekend... I went to Cambridge and spent time with my Aunty and someone else very special to me :o)

We walked by the river, ate lunch by an open fire, watched Stardust (omg how amazingly romantic was that film *sighs* and Captain Shakespeare - classic!!) bought the most glorious dress for a wedding I'm going to (I've never spent so much on a dress but it was well worth it, especially for the service I got in the little boutique) and spent a lot of time hugging and being hugged... I'm sure you can understand why I now feel totally lost, back in Lincoln and with so little work to take my mind off things.

I could be working on my writing, I could be making books to sell in time for Christmas, I could be making gifts ready for Christmas, I could be making gifts ready for the people I'm going to meet for the first time in the next few weeks... but I'm not - I just cannot seem to focus on anything *sigh*

I'm off to try and get myself going... I can't spend the next two weeks like this lol.

Don't forget tomorrow is the last day to enter the giveaway

Monday, 22 October 2007

November Giveaway

As promised here is the second part of my 3 month giveaway. I had planned on saving this one for December's prize but as my life has suddenly become very busy I have not had chance to complete what I was going to offer as November's prize in time to take a photo of it and post it... so I shall have to have a rethink...

So this month I am giving you the opportunity to win a custom written poem or short story, hand decorated and posted to you. To be in with a chance to win all you have to do is leave a comment and if you are the lucky winner I'll contact you to find out what you would like - it truly is your choice on whether you have a poem or a story, whether it's for you, a friend, or even your business, whether it rhymes, is funny, is sentimental... I could go on and on but I won't hehe

Please feel free to pass on details of this giveaway to as many friends as you wish - the more the merrier :o)

And if you want to look at some samples of my work then please visit love of the word... (and please be aware this is a very small sample at present whilst I get the new blog up and running)

Good Luck

Saturday, 20 October 2007

New site

I decided not to plunge straight into the paid webhosting services and went back to Typepad, remembering fondly my days there earlier this year. My personal blog is staying with blogger... I do not want to move it yet again... but I have started my writing on back over there as it gives me far more scope to expand in future if my writing continues to grow as it is doing so far.

If you'd like to go visit (but bear in mind it is still in the beginning stages and I have not yet decided if I am happy with the look - I'm seeing if it grows on me or not) the please click here.

I've had to make some tough decisions regarding my writing... I have recently begun writing stories which are very deep and contain very mature subjects and although I am very proud with the results and the feedback I've been getting has been brilliant, I do feel that posting them on the same site as my children's stories might not be the most effective marketing tactic. I am upset, however, that this does not allow me to showcase my range - I am able to write far more than nice poetry and children's tales. It has been a hard decision to make, but I just do not feel it would be my best option to post them all on one site (even though that was my first desire when thinking of setting up a website). The last thing I want to do is offend somebody or put people off...

In other news, I shall be posting the next giveaway over the next few days - I'd do it today but I really need to charge my batteries so I can take a picture of the prize. So please do visit soon. Ad let me know what you think to the new blog and my choice to keep certain pieces of my work away from it. Am I, in your professional opinions, doing the right thing or am I selling myself short and not trusting my readers to make their own choices? It really is a difficult one to judge!

Have a wonderful weekend everybody
Amanda xx

Thursday, 11 October 2007

A question about websites

I would like to set up a website now that I have some income and can afford to do so without resorting to the free ones where half the page is covered in adverts I dislike. My question is for those of you who have a website you pay for - who hosts it, how did you design it, and would you suggest anything to help me in choosing how to go about doing this myself?

I want a website where I can post a variety of written work in various categories: childrens'; poetry; spiritual; adult themes/issues and perhaps a section on writing tips along with an area where I will later hope to display what I wish to sell if I ever get over my fears and get my business venture running. So any ideas would be gratefully received. Thanks.

Got to go - am off to a Criminology lecture now!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

A paid education

I thought it was about time I told you all about my new job.

I work for an agency who supply support workers to university students who have been assessed to require assistance in certain areas of their studies. My current work includes 7 hours per week taking notes in lectures for students with hearing impairments and 7 hours per week typing up said notes plus up to 30 hours per week (but rarely exceeding 16) as a PA to a student in a wheelchair who needs help getting round campus.

I love my job because I love helping people and I get to meet so many new faces. But more than that, I get to learn all sorts of new things. These past few weeks I've been to illustration lectures on Pop Art, Criminology lectures discussing postmodernism and computing lectures including information on decision making and debates on ethics and morality. And instead of paying for my education and being stressed about proving my ability in the subject I am being paid to turn up, listen and simply repeat what is said - you can't get much better than that now can you?

Monday, 1 October 2007

And the winner is...

Angel Jem!

I'll be getting the cards sent off to you as soon as I receive your postal address. Check back later in the month for the next giveaway - it'll be a good one!

Sunday, 30 September 2007

A bit of fun

This one's for Carrie

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Sam Seat (pronounced Say-yat)

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Vanilla (I'd just be vanilla 'cos I don't really eat biscuits lol)

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)
AFis (I sound like an aphid - nice!)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Blue Wolf (oooh me likes!)

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Claire Lincoln

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
The Green Smoothie (LOL)

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
John Raymond

9. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)
Paradise Rock

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names )
Ann John

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Stewart Sydney

12. SPY NAME/BOND GIRL: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Autumn Daisy

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”) Banana Pyjamasy (seriously lol)

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)
Cornflakes Walnut

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”)
The Writing Sunshine Tour

Saturday, 22 September 2007

My Etsy Shop

I've finally done it! I finally decided to start an etsy shop and just listed my first two items and hope to list some more in the next few weeks!

If you'd like to visit my shop then click here

Having a busy day so no time to write much but I just wanted to draw your attention to my previous post for your chance to win in my first of three monthly giveaways!

Amanda xx

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

My gift to you

Ok guys, here's the first of what I hope will be a three part giveaway!

On the first day of the next three months I am going to be giving away a small gift from me to someone who reads this blog. Each month's gift will be different but you can be sure it will be made with lots of love and attention.

It's pretty simple - and goes along the same lines as most blog giveaways - if you want to be in with a chance to win just leave me a comment. I'll make sure I post each month's giveaway post at least a week before the draw, giving you plenty of time to find it and join in. I'll also post a reminder at the end of any posts put on my blog between the giveaway posting and the day of the draw itself, so you can be sure not to miss it!

So, without further ado... this month's gift!

These three cards will be coming your way if you win the "First of October" giveaway. The blue and green cards are made using Iris Folding techniques - the coloured parts in the centre are made of folded tissue paper and the rest is made from card. The red card is made from the bits of card I cut out to make the blue one (waste not, want not and good for the trees too!!) with some decorative gold paper and red and gold ribbon.

extra note: I decided after making the red bauble card to make some using the same paper and ribbon but on a green background so if you do win and would prefer it on a green background you can choose that option instead (I will send you a photo of the green one if you are thinking of this option.)

Inside the bauble designed cards is the poem:

Bauble hanging in the tree
how very happy you make me,
shining in the candlelight
making the whole room seem bright.

Inside the tree designed card is the poem:

Christmas tree beside the fire
hiding treasures I desire,
will I find beneath your boughs
gifts I'm dreaming of right now?

For anyone who doesn't win but likes the cards, they will soon be going on sale in my etsy shop (the link for which I will be sure to share with you all once I have set it all up properly!!)

Good Luck!!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Chalice Well

(I seem to have lost my photos for the post - sorry I shall try and fix it later but currently have to run - you know how it is!!)
As you know, I went to Glastonbury last weekend to meet up with some friends I met online. We did this for the first time last year and had such a good time we decided to do it again this year! These friends are very special to me because they have seen me through some of the hardest times of my life... and have, in particular, supported me as I have grappled with some fairly deep spiritual crises!

I don't think I've ever mentioned anything about my beliefs on here, because I tend to shy away from doing so too much because my blog isn't about my spirituality. I am pretty "new age" although I hate using that word because my experience is it is used to cover so many things that most people haven't got a clue what it means. But I have to tell you that a trip to Glastonbury - with all its spiritual connections - especially with people I love and respect deeply was a very special treat indeed!

One of the places we just have to go to is the Chalice Well because it is just such a beautiful place to visit and so peaceful. The picture at the top of this post was taken there and explains part of the reason I love the place so much! I am a nature girl and flowers make me so happy and as you will see in the photos below the whole place is blooming with wildlife!

Not long after we arrived we (the three of us who went together) sat on the following stone bench, surrounded by leaves, meditating and praying in silence - it was beautiful!

Especially because we had the angel below sat right behind us!

We then walked down towards the healing waters and saw one of the holy thorn trees. This particular thorn tree is said (according to legend) to have descended from the original which sprouted from Joseph of Arimathea's staff when he visited Glastonbury. It apparently flowers at Christmas and Easter!!

I love how people tie ribbons to the trees around the garden and leave candles burning by statues because it just adds to the wonder of the place!

We drank from the healing waters just beneath the thorn tree. The waters come from two springs further up the hill (which we also visited and which I might tell you about in a later post if I decide it isn't too "spiritual" for my blog). The two springs represent the masculine and feminine aspects of life - each having different mineral contents in them. The water tastes so strange because it has so many minerals we aren't used to tasting.

I forgot to take a picture of the place where we drank the water from as I was so busy running further down the hill to the place where we walked through the water and where I cleansed my crystals. The following picture is taken by the place where you can walk through the water and I love it because, to me, it is so symbolic of the doorway between the worlds and also where the future is hidden but we can sometimes see the path we will take through the doorway we are about to choose!

This is the waterfall where the water comes down from the place where you can drink from to the place where you can walk through it. Note how red the stone is where the water has passed - that is due to the water itself!

And here are my crystals, freshly washed :o)

We then moved right down to the bottom of the gardens, where there is grass and more running water. I felt so light and happy I skipped down with my friend (but I really wanted to dance and sing and do cartwheels but didn't dare *blushes*)

It was here that we saw evidence of the Faeries who live here - here is the little Faery bridge (sorry it's a bit wonky!!):

And here is the laundry I spotted on a makeshift washing line, hehe!

Thanks for journeying through Chalice Well Gardens with me today - I have such fond memories of my time there and truly wish that everybody could visit it because it really is one of the most beautiful places on earth!!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Dirty Penguin

I went to Glastonbury with some friends last weekend. I left my home at 6:30am on Friday morning and returned home at 6:30pm Monday evening and had such a blast I can't tell you!!

I have so many wonderful pictures and stories to tell you but I want to begin with the story of an unfortunate penguin I met along the way!

Friday night we went to a gig my friend and her daughter were doing in a local pub. Whilst we were there we met a guy from another band called The Dirty Penguins. They had a little friend who lived in the pub - we'll call him Percy for the sake of anonymity!! This is Percy's tale!

Whilst watching Angelica performing their closing act, Percy's eyes were drawn to a mysterious beauty across the room. His heart skipped a beat as her eyes met his and he knew right then he wanted nothing more than to speak to this girl. Beckoning her across to his side, he put all this charm to work and was overjoyed when the girl took him in her arms and asked him to return to her hotel room for a night of pleasure. Unfortunately, he was only a little penguin still and knew that papa penguin would never let him leave with strangers. So he had to hide beneath her coat and keep as quiet as a mouse!

Upon arrival at the girl's hotel room he stood nervously waiting whilst she powdered her nose. He was worried that he might be too dirty for her so he ran to the mirror to check his appearance.

Seeing his distress, the beautiful girl's equally gorgeous friend (that would be me hehe) rushed to reassure him with a kiss. That made him blush - he'd never been kissed like that before!!

This gorgeous girl promised him that the beautiful girl would bestow many more kisses upon his beak when she returned which excited him so much he performed his greatest acrobatic tricks off the top of their wardrobe!

Eventually the beautiful girl returned and Percy was overjoyed when he found himself lying in her arms. He sighed with delight and snuggled into his beautiful treasure, lapping up all the attention she would give him.

At last, the time came for them to sleep, and sleep Percy did. So comfortable was the bed and so exciting his dreams!

He dreamt of the day when he would be a tv star!! The Beautiful girl and her gorgeous friends had promised him that with a little bit of work he would one day be the greatest penguin on the box!!

Percy awoke early the next morning and decided to have a shower. He no longer wanted to be a dirty penguin, having smelt what it was like to be in the company of the sweetest smelling girl in the world. So he stole her shampoo and washed off his feathers, ready to face a new day.

He dried himself off and made his way to the kitchen and cooked up a perfect breakfast for his perfect new friends. How proud he was!!

But, alas!! When he returned to the bedroom with the breakfast on a tray, he found a note upon his pillow. I would show you the note, but it is torn into a thousand pieces, such was Percy's grief!! However, I remember the words for they were written with my best pen...

Dear Percy,

What a wonderful time we had... but all good things must come to an end. It is time for us to go now, but we shall remember you, my darling! Remember us, your beautiful girl and her gorgeous friends when you make it as a star!

Love, your beautiful girl xx

We were already on our way by the time Percy had packed his bags and returned home to papa penguin, drying his tears with a hanky which smelt of the beautiful girl. It would be cruel of me to post pictures of his sorrow - and you must be sure to send him your love, for he really is heartbroken. It took him 3 days to get the scent of her shampoo off his feathers, three days of crying each time he caught a whiff!

Percy, or darling Dirty Penguin, we shall remember you always xx

note: no penguins were harmed in the making of this post!!

please excuse the dates on the photos they are completely wrong and I couldn't work my sister's camera out to take them off... I promise you they were all taken this weekend just past!

And now you know just how extremely mad I truly am!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then I'll begin. Here's a little recording I did for you all. It's a short clip from the second part of my Adventures of Scamp story which I shall soon be selling. Enjoy!

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click To Play

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Christmas Cards

Here are the first two samples of my Christmas cards. I have a set of poems which are related to the designs I am using. All my work is based around poems or stories. I'm thinking of selling some of these on etsy - let me know what you think!

The cards are made using Iris Folding techniques which I just learnt how to do and I have used tissue paper for these particular designs. I need to work on making sure my edges are straight because right now they are still a little rough because I've never used a craft knife before and my only ruler is plastic, not metal, so I keep cutting into it! But I am perfecting my technique with each sample so hopefully by the time I have made a whole set of prototypes I'll be ready to set to doing whole bunches of saleable products!

I can't tell you how much I wish I had a better quality camera so I could show you these in far better detail. Once I start working again and get some cash together I think it's going to be a necessary luxury! I'm just lucky at the moment that I have some good quality craft supplies stocked up from previous years otherwise I wouldn't be able to do any of this right now! I think once my first full paycheck comes in I'm gonna go on a crafter's frenzy hehe!

So this is the first card. My sister loves this one! The poem inside is:

Christmas lantern burning bright
lighting up this winter night
casting shadows to and fro
dancing on the world below

My sister isn't quite so keen on my second design, although I love it! She thinks it would be much better with just one big Christmas tree instead of two little ones - I disagree but accept that my taste may not be what others are looking for so your comments on this particular one would be very helpful for me!

The poem inside this card is:

Christmas tree beside the fire
hiding treasures I desire
will I find beneath your boughs
the gifts I'm dreaming of right now?

So those are the two I have so far - I've got a bauble and star design to go and depending upon how good my own Iris Folding design goes I may also have a fireplace and snowman. I am so excited and also, I have to say, quite glad that today is not quite as sunny as yesterday because although it's still warm and pleasant, looking out at the grogeous sunshine yesterday was doing nothing for my ability to think Christmassy!!

And just as a final treat - a picture to show just how much of a messy crafter I am *blushes*... I can't help it - I get so wrapped up in creating things that order dissolves at times like these and I have to have a major clear up afterwards. It's a good job my parents are on holiday this week because my mum would have kittens if she saw what I'd done to her dining table!

Have a lovely Sunday, all
Amanda xx

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Full steam ahead

I've been so busy working on various projects I can't believe that my dream of crafting for more than pleasure is finally happening. I've got a long way to go before I have a business running but I am getting there and I can finally see results!

I've been writing small poems to go inside some Christmas cards and started working on some Iris Folding designs to go with them - I just finished my first prototype and am so happy with how it came out I am sure I can knock up quite a few and start trying to sell some on etsy. I'd post a picture but need to borrow my sister's camera (as mine is broken) and she is currently laid in bed having spent the night being sick so the photos will have to wait until she wakes up and I can steal her camera (and take her some wholesome food of course!)

My protoype of my handmade books has a few kinks which need straightening out but I am hopeful they won't take too long. I'm working on typesetting the next two and then hopefully by the end of this week I should have working examples of two poetry books and one children's book! I can't wait to show them to you all!

I have so many other ideas I'd like to try out to but I have to be reasonable - I start work full-time again soon so I need to make sure I have time to do a few things well than lots of things badly! I'm using my free time at the moment to wash all my clothes and sort out my wardrobe putting aside what isn't needed right now and sending what I no longer wear to charity. I feel the need to move the energies so lots of things, books included, are being sold or donated and it feels good. I'm ready for a fresh start!

The summer for me has been a bit of standing still and fretting. I am still readjusting to no longer being a student and actually having a choice over what I want to do now. When I left the nursery in April I wanted to set up a business but fear took over and I found myself desperately searching for jobs which paid more. I am only recently realising just how incredibly lucky I am and in doing so I stopped stressing, started believing and trusting the right thing would come to me and sure enough it seems to have arrived...

I've got a meeting on Tuesday with the student support officer at my local university and all being well I should come out of the meeting with a pretty much full-time job which is perfect for me. Fingers crossed!!

I love this time of year - it always feels like a new beginning - far more than any other time of year, even New Year. I think it comes from having spent 18 years in education and September being the beginning of a fresh year! My mindset is simply stuck on September being the start of something new! So I am so happy right now to be getting out of my rut and fully working towards what I want... I'm finally enjoying where I am right now for the first time in perhaps my entire life and I am loving it!

Have a wonderful weekend
Amanda xx

Friday, 24 August 2007

As promised...

I've been putting this post off because a) this week has been mighty hectic and b) my last post was number 111 and I love that number!

But I promised a more detailed account of camp so here it is.

My Camper and I

I travelled down to the campsite via train. I actually went part the way on Friday so I only had to go from Cambridge to Farnham on Saturday - that was enough!! With my hefty rucksack and sleeping bag jutting out about twice my width I braved the underground (is it just me or do people see that you cannot get past them and make the effort to actually move more *into* your way?!) I had to get off at King's Cross, get the tube to Victoria, then a train to Woking, then one to Farnham and then a taxi to the campsite... can you tell now why I did the journey to Cambridge the day before??

The Chapel on the campsite

Anyway it was so hot - it always is the week I go on camp! I got there a tad early and they wouldn't let us on the site for another 15 mins (insurance reasons or something) so I walked down the hill from where the taxi dropped me off, chatted to the leader and a couple of people also early arriving, and then trudged my way back up the hill... great start... I then spend ages moving tents before finally getting a quick break before my camper arrived. Talk about non-stop.

Some of the tents

My camper had complex disabilities and my care for her meant I had to learn how to give gastric feeds (through a tube into her tummy). It wasn't that difficult - once I knew about checking for air bubbles, making sure the tube clicked into place properly and knowing how the clamps worked. At the beginning of the week I was really nervous but by the end it was like second nature... get up and wait for the overnight feed to finish; unhook machine from camper, flush with water; get meds from nurse and spends ages getting them into the syringe only to push them out of syringe seconds later - follow with another flush of water; give 3 or 4 (on extra hot days) flushes through day (giving more meds - and messing around trying to open capsules and suck up thick, gloopy meds into syringe too big to fit in the cup the meds came in (D'oh) at lunch time) ; end day by giving more meds and hooking camper back up to machine, hoping it had already been set up right and wouldn't beep incessantly at me when I turned it on! Simple, really ;o)

My camper and I swimming

I felt quite priviledged to have been entrusted with such care and it did so much to boost my confidence. The past couple of years I have had more "challenging" campers which shows they really trust my ability - especially as they just let me get on with it, knowing I'll seek professional help/guidance when I need it. I guess, to be fair, my age and experience working in other care environments helps too!

My camper and an old friend at the campfire

Anyway - my camper was a darling. She couldn't speak, save saying "Oh dear!" a lot when we lifted her out of her chair to change her - usually followed by fits of giggles as one of us bashed ourselves on a bit of the wheelchair which stuck out or knocked something over. Yes, my camper, like many of the wonderful campers, found it hilarious if ever you hurt yourself. I came home with bruises that are still visible now - and I don't bruise easily!! Needless to say, she laughed at me a lot!!

Laughing at our uselessness!!

We also laughed a lot, especially when I managed to do things like knock the bowl of water I was washing her with off the changing bed and all over the floor, onto an electrical battery charger, in the middle of a thunder storm - WHOOOOOOPS!!! Sometimes we laughed because it was so funny - other times we had to laugh or else we might have cried/screamed - usually when our camper squeezed her arms close to her body mid-lift meaning our wrists almost snapped as they were bent in an awkward position, trapped between her incredibly strong grip and her rock-solid back brace!!

Singing by the campfire

Our days out caused more fun - mostly to do with going to the toilet! I never really thought about disabled toilets much before. I mean, whenever I looked after a camper who needed to use a disabled toilet they were able to sit upright with a little help, so it was simply a matter of lifting them out of the chair and on to the toilet seat. This time my camper wore nappies and we always changed her on a changing bed whilst on the campsite. And have you ever seen one of those in a public disabled toilet?? We had to change the poor darling on the floor of the disabled loo in a shopping centre one day and the next day on the floor of a very small toilet on a rather small river boat! With her head hanging out the door and my co-carer protecting said head, I stood over her legs, bent double so I could see what I was doing. This would have been hard enough, but add in the fact that the boat was, at that very moment, doing a U-turn and the person driving couldn't even steer straight in the first place, I spent a lot of it trying hard not to bash my head against the toilet itself! We both felt a little bit seasick after that experience - though I have to say I found it quite funny, even at the time - and our camper thought it hilarious!!

One of our days out

I think my co-carer was a tad overwhelmed by the whole thing - not surprising it being her first time and all - I had such an easy camper my first year and I still found it hard going!! I don't think she quite saw the funny side as much as I did, either... maybe I just have a wacky sense of humour... in fact I know I have a wacky sense of humour and I guess it really helps at such times as these, when you're working on one or two hours sleep a night and constantly trying to figure out if the mad waving of the arm your camper is giving means "I'm in pain", "I'm hungry", "I'm bored" or something else entirely!

Patrol Craft Time

But I had such an incredible time I can't wait to go back next year. And all I could think about on my long journey home was how much I am meant to do this work and how very unfair it is that such work is so low paid I can't really afford to make a long-term career out of it. But great news awaited me upon my return home as I am currently expecting a call about a possible opportunity which is perfect for me right now - more on that another day!

Oh, my journey back was even longer btw! I had to cancel my trip to Cambridge post-camp for family reasons so it involved: catching a lift with another carer back to her hometown of Surbiton; catching the train to Waterloo; spending ages in a queue and then arguing with someone over the cheapest way to change my route (I only had tickets for a route via Cambridge which added a lot of time to my overall journey!) only to have her say "there is no other way"; catching the tube to King's Cross only to find the line I needed was closed and having to find another route; buying a ticket at King's Cross which allowed me to go a much more direct route home (so I have no idea what the other woman at the other station was on about!); getting a train to Retford; and then a rickety old bus which had no aircon, couldn't get up hills very well (and we went through lots of villages with hills) to get back to Lincoln because no trains were coming in that weekend. I was so glad to get home and then I had to wait for my dad to pick me up, whilst desperate for the toilet (lol) before I could finally relax! Ahhhhh how nice it was to have a bath and go to bed that night!!

Dancing at the Disco!

I miss it already, but another one of the campers (the first one I ever looked after) rang me last weekend and her Nan has invited me to visit anytime! Oooh I can't wait!! She also sent me a letter with a picture she drew of herself, me and my camper :o) and I have just finished hand sewing her a headscarf that I promised as she decorated one for me on camp and they ran out so I said I'd make one specially for her! (You might have noticed it in an earlier picture!!) I'd take a piccie of the one I've just made but my camera is broken so I'll just have to tell you it's blue and spotty and fantastic hehe!!

One of many hugs!

I'm currently busy writing and producing some handmade books, so keep an eye out for future posts related to those. Also please visit my new blog Amanda's Enchanting Pages for a taste of what's to come.