Journal Entries

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  • September 2021

    Thu, 30 Sep 2021 17:41:03 GMT

    A pretty quiet month in the end, but with a few firsts and a few highlights! (Also, posting this on the last day of the month! I'm ahead of schedule!)

    AMPDG: Secret fanclub

    An AMPDG adventure/challenge that I'd submitted myself turned up in this month's draw, one that I've wanted to do since much earlier this year: dressing up in what I now know is called "closet cosplay" and seeing if anyone spots it.

    I picked Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because once long ago, someone told me I had that sort of feel about me. I'm not sure I still do, but I've also been wanting to try dyeing my hair dark brown since forever ago (I tried it once, but misread the instructions and put it on after conditioner, so it didn't take) and generally try out styles that pushed my comfort zone out a little.

    So one evening I tweeted this photo, along with the caption

    I had a slightly stronger look earlier but it was a little hot

    Posting that photo was a little uncomfortable since I don't think it's a particularly good one of me (and I'm very not used to seeing myself with lipstick on) but I wanted to get the photoshoot done before work in the morning so I had a limited amount of time. A better one was here, but it didn't show the whole outfit

    After work I cycled to my nearest park to read in the evening sun for a bit. I was going to wear the whole outfit but it was a particularly warm day, so I changed into a skirt and didn't use the arm warmers, so I can't really say I went out in the full outfit.

    I got some nice comments in response to the tweet, but nobody picked up on the cosplay, which is about what I expected! However, Samathy spotted the tweet a day later, before I revealed it was for AMPDG, saying it looked like I was aiming for BtVS aesthetic ("Faith or early-mid show Willow") which really raised my spirits.

    Overall the challenge helped me discover that: (a) I love my hair dark brown; I may get it professionally/permanently dyed at some point; (b) I can pull off a red vest quite well; (c) I can pull off bootcut jeans quite well; (d) I want to get a black denim jacket, which was my alternative idea to armwarmers.


    I went to my first Pride this month, the local one in Nottingham town centre. I rather wish I could say I had a good time, but the crowds and noise got to me quite quickly, and I didn't really feel I fit in with the local group I was nominally attending with, so I bailed as soon as the parade finished and went back home. I don't think I'd really considered how being in a crowd for the first time since before the pandemic would affect me; in the end it took me out for a few days afterwards, emotionally/mentally.

    On the plus side, I didn't have to travel for it. If I attend another one, I'll make sure I go with people I already know, and also make sure I take ear plugs or something like that to mitigate the noise at least.

    Roller skating

    Samathy and Lex invited me along to a roller skating session at the local skate rink, which I would never have thought of doing myself, so that was cool! There was a beginners session on Saturday morning so I turned up for that. The skate shoes I rented fit well (note to self: size 8) and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, staying for most of the two hour session. There's a nice photo of Samathy and me on Samathy's twitter. The rink, though inside, felt open enough that it didn't trigger covid worries for me, either. I will endeavour to go again, and the idea of going for some lessons is appealing, though the next batch straddles a weekend I won't be around for, so I'm looking into 2022 at this point.

    Dragon fruit

    A year ago I planted a little pitahaya cutting in a big pot and hoped for the best. I'd say it's doing rather well!

    The main vine started branching very quickly after I took the top off last month. (Since doing this, I've learned that naturally, the vine would climb until something obstructed it or it started flopping over, which would likely cause fractures in the vine at the bend, triggering branching. Either way, I did the right thing.) At the start of the month I had six branches forming. I took the lowest one off at the bud stage, since it was below the canopy, and so far four of the others have grown on, which I'm pleased with.

    On the 4th:

    On the 18th:

    I'm weighing down the branches at the moment to train them over the canopy more neatly; partly for looks and partly so that, if they fruit, they're quite securely held to support the extra weight.

    The tip of the vine, I think, is dying in its new pot at the moment. I'm not particularly surprised; the vine had not grown very thick at that point and so I think just didn't have enough energy reserves to put down roots. I'll keep it in the pot for a bit, but the tip has started to brown.

    I think the reason the tip was a bit straggly was either because the vine had grown so high that the midday sun wasn't actually reaching it, because the top of the window wasn't high enough, or because I'd either over- or under-fed and so it wasn't happy about that. I have remedied the first part at least by lowering the pot onto the floor; it was originally on a raised platform to favour the initial cutting.


    I went for an evening walk on the day of the equinox, so as to be out of the house and looking at the sky when the exact time (20:20) happened. It aligned well with sunset and the moon rise; I had a great view of the near-horizon when the moon was rising, and it was such a beautiful sunset orange colour. A lovely walk all in all.

    I also made a hazelnut spread cake, using a recipe someone had linked to at work, and I dubbed it an equinox cake. I was quite pleased with how it turned out looks-wise, but wasn't keen on the flavour to begin with. It's grown on me since (it takes a while to eat a cake on my own!) which is just as well because I have enough leftover icing in the freezer to make another one!

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  • August 2021

    Sun, 19 Sep 2021 12:29:34 GMT

    For the first time since the start of the pandemic, I took a trip away from home purely for my own enjoyment, spending one night in Matlock before travelling back the next day.

    Much Ado About Nottingham

    Samathy and Lex invited me to join them for an outside showing of Much Ado About Nothing at Wollaton Hall, which had been on my places to check out in Nottingham more or less since I'd moved here.

    I hadn't seen Much Ado before, and this was a very traditional performance of it, so I didn't particularly follow the plot, but it was a lovely evening (if a little cold) towards the end, and I learned a great new location that was within cycling distance of me!

    Ice cream tacos

    I misheard Ems saying she was having "tacos with rice filling" as "tacos with ice cream" on a call with her and Tim, so the three of us ended up having taco ice cream night on the 13th, as you do.

    "Taco" in Norway generally refers to the tortilla wrap, so I had one wrap with vanilla ice cream, wafer, and chocolate sauce, and a taco shell with a slice of Vienetta in it, both with little ice cream foam sweets that had been hanging around since long before I moved.

    AMPDG: Movie Roulette

    For AMPDG this month I pulled "Movie Roulette: Go to the cinema at a random time and see the first film showing". I modified this for not-going-to-cinema times and used a Netflix random film generator I found on Google to pick a film for me.

    It came up with "The Sisterhood of The Travelling Pants 2" so, while waiting for my Sainsbury's order with popcorn to show up, I decided to watch the first film of the two beforehand, just to get some enjoyment out of it.

    With that name, I was expecting pretty a pretty bad film, but the first one was good enough that I was in tears by the end. (The age difference between the protag girls and their love interests was uncomforatble though.)

    By the time my Sainsbury's order had arrived, Netflix had dropped the second film, so I ended up getting that on DVD! I set up purple-orange cinema lighting in my living room, got the popcorn ready, and curled up with my phone and laptop off.

    The second film was good, a pretty standard sequel. I'd recommend both to anyone who's a fan of The Fault in Our Stars and that sort of genre.

    Dragonfruit and Ginger

    The dragon fruit was getting mighty tall at the start of the month, and I was expecting it to start branching out. After watching a few youtube videos, I realised I needed to crop the top of it before it would likely do so, and the top was getting quite thin anyway, so it was an easy decision.

    I decided to pot up the cutting to see if it would root, though I think it was a little weedy. (At the time of writing, it hasn't done anything conclusive).

    The weediness was either because the top of the parent plant wasn't getting any sun when the sun was high (the window would need to be much taller to avoid that) and/or because I hadn't actually fed the plant since potting it up. As such, I got some liquid feed, gave it a good watering with that, and lowered the pot onto the floor, which had been my original plan but wasn't its starting point because the base of it wouldn't get any sun there.

    One of those two things worked because while it took the original parent cutting a half year to spring into action, the vine put out six branch buds within twenty days!

    I had to tighted the vine to the central pole to get the bottom two above the canopy, and accidentally cut into the flesh with the string, but it seems to have healed okay. The lowermost branch bud was still just below the canopy, so I brushed that one off; I only "need" 3-5 branches according to the dragon fruit vids anyway.

    Meanwhile, two ginger roots I had from my Sainsbury's order had started budding, which I've never seen before! I used one for cooking and decided to just see what happens if you plant a ginger - I might get a nice plant! Having seen wild ginger growing in Hawaii, it would definitely be impressive if it thrived.

    Matlock Overnight

    In a litmus test of how I might handle a longer trip, I booked a hotel in Matlock at the edge of the Peak District, and caught the train there after work on a Friday. On Saturday I planned to walk the scenic route to Matlock Bath, get the cable car to the odd attraction of the Heights of Abraham, and get the train back home.

    The walk took me along the River Derwent for a bit, through the public park in Matlock, then up and along a cliff-edge along the East of the river. The views were some of the best I've seen in a fair while.

    A section of the path was called Giddy Edge, and it lived up to its name, being a narrow path with a handrail running around an outcrop of rock that was otherwise a sheer drop.

    I nearly turned around and went for a safer-looking route, but went for it in the end and I'm glad I did!

    At the other end of the path was a No Entry sign, indicating a one-way system for Giddy Edge, which at least answered my question on what I would do if I encountered someone else coming the other way.

    After that, I had some fun exploring some crevices in the rocks that definitely didn't have "No Access" signs in front of them, though some of the deeper nooks had been properly gated up, the spoilsports.

    Yeah okay sign sure.

    Shortly after this I got to Matlock Bath, emerging near the railway station and the entrance to the cable car ride to the top of the opposite hill. I had a ticket booked on this, but not for a couple of hours, so in the meantime I explored the town, a weird place that had three fish and chip shops in a row, and plenty more nearby, despite being one of the furthest places in England from the sea. I bought some fudge from a fudge shop. There was also a beautiful walk up through the forested hillside above the otherwise uninspiring Lovers' Walk, where I had my sandwiches.

    I walked back to queue up for the cable car to the Heights of Abraham, a self-described "country park" on the hill across the river. I think "country park" is a bit of a stretch; there wasn't really any park land; just a small web of pathways with a restaurant, picnic area, ice cream shop, playground, and, anachronistically, a Punch and Judy show that actually seemed to be a draw.

    The cable car ride itself was nice (even though it was mandatory to take in order to get to the park; the walking route being closed "due to covid" which is a pretty flimsy excuse to push more people through the paid route, I felt) and, in fairness, not overly expensive compared to, say, the London dangleway.

    The park had caught my attention for the two cave tours they run. The first one was very good, with some narrow and low parts, a decent walk, and a nice large cavern at the lowest part. The second one was barely more than a crevice; the bits I've explored myself on the way here were more impressive!

    It started raining so, as is traditional, I bought an ice cream (salted caramel), and sat and ate that in my raincoat. Afterwards I took the cable car back down to Matlock station, where I waited for a train home.

    Overall I didn't find the trip too anxiety-inducing or overwhelming, though the train back from Derby was A Lot, as I unfortunately chanced into chuck-out time for a football game where Derby had been playing. On the back of that, I decided I reckon I'd be up to certain bits of travel again.

    Wild blackberry jam

    I spent an afternoon one weekend collecting a punnet of blackberries, and the jam I made with them turned out pretty well!


    I made three more coaster-sized dutch pours to go with the one I made previously, in different colours

    Upon drying, I discovered that some paints dry very transparent, so I'll have to bear that in mind next time!


    It was the Perseids meteor shower this month, so I decided to go to my local fairly dark open space after dark to see if I could spot any.

    Saw a very bright meteor on the way to the dark park near me, then at least two more in the next 40 minutes, and finally one on the way back home. Pretty happy with that!

    Also got checked in on by a group of teens who weren't sure I was okay, bless them. I guess I was lying motionless on the grass in the dark... oops? I'd mostly been ignoring people who walked past on the nearby footpath, but this lot managed to accidentally spot me with their flashlight. I think I gave them a bit of a jump.

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  • July 2021

    Sun, 15 Aug 2021 11:36:47 GMT

    Bit of a quiet month, but AMPDG got me doing a nice project, and I finally got my second covid vaccine!

    Vaccination 2

    It was the hottest day of the year so far, and a 30 minute cycle ride away, so I ended up wearing a very old vest, of all things. The test centre was much quieter compared to the first vaccination; no queue outside and straight to the nurse inside.

    I took my obligatory vaccination selfie right outside the centre; not the best photo I've taken of myself but here you go.

    I felt more-or-less okay for the rest of the day but the day after, a Monday, I woke up just aching all over, to the point I wasn't comfortable just lying on the sofa. Fortunately the side effects disappeared as swiftly as they'd appeared, and I woke up on Tuesday feeling basically fine.

    AMPDG: Tau Girl

    For AMPDG I picked "Behold! The Masked Wonder!: Create a superhero identity for yourself and use it to do something."

    With Tau Day the previous month in my head, and partly inspired by Emily's "Pi Avenger" from before I met her, I created Tau Girl, whose logo is a Tau symbol in a circle. For a skirt I ordered some material and made an elasticated circle skirt out of it.

    I also ordered a t-shirt to sew the logo onto and some coloured bracelets.

    I decided to create a secret identity of sorts too, by wearing a denim jacket I'd bought but wasn't sure really suited me, so hadn't worn again since, and go to the woods to do a photoshoot.

    I didn't think the photoshoot worked out as well as I'd hoped, so when I got back I took a little series of photos and turned them into a comic strip using a GIMP guide to create a drawn effect:

    All in all this was a nice combination of tasks, including more machine sewing practice (the skirt turned out quite well, though the fabric is a bit too see-through); hand-sewing (the tau symbol is a mess, but I wasn't particularly trying to do more than a quick job on that, expecting to unpick it later); and pushing myself a little to be somewhat conspicuous in public (I wore the jacket over the top walking to the woods, but the pink skirt was very much on display).

    Garden update

    Display all vegetables but my broad beans being a total flop this year, the strawberries and golden raspberries did particularly well this year. I'd taken the strawberries back last year, so there wasn't as many of those, but I got several punnets of raspberries across the summer.

    My sunflowers, planted for May's AMPDG, flowered near the start of the month and I think my choice of the "Solar Eclipse" variety was a very good one.

    Dragonfruit update

    At the start of the month I realised the Dragon fruit vine was growing fast enough that I'd need to complete the trellis that I'd only given a cursory thought to until now. I decided to go with the system I'd seen a youtube video do a while ago, which was to top the growing pole with a garden sieve for the vine to drape over.

    The (semi-)professional growers use 10cm-or-so thick beams of wood for the pole and construct a square top for their stuff, but I'd already committed to the coconut fibre pole, so I ordered the sieve, a 30cm aluminium beam to go through the centre of it, and some heavy duty picture frame wire to stop it toppling.

    You can see my efforts here:

    I would have preferred a ceramic pot for the plant, but at least the plastic one allowed me to drill some holes through to look the picture wire through. It also turned out the coconut fibre pole is hollow, so I wasn't able to just shove the rod into it and have it stay there (it would have fallen to the bottom), so I used some plasticine to hold it in place. I used cutters to create a hole for the vine to grow through:

    I have no idea if this will hold the weight of several vine branches draping over it, but it feels like a reasonable bodge!

    I got it done just in time; just a week later the vine was already through the top:

    Twitch streams

    I got the equipment together to be able to stream me playing on my old Megadrive onto Twitch, and I've been doing that sporadically on Saturday mornings when I've been up to it. If you fancy joining me, I'm at kapellosaur there, and twitch will send an e-mail when I go live.

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