Wednesday 4 May 2016

My Month in Numbers 2016: April

Do you want the honest truth?

Now that I regularly use Instagram to document my days - as they happen - this monthly round-up is starting to feel like I'm going over old ground. The good thing about putting everything into one blog post it is I get to share larger photos and I can write more about what happened. The bad thing is ... I end up selecting and uploading lots of photos and writing so much that it takes up hours of my time ...

But now I've had my moan, let's not worry about all that now. It wouldn't have been the first time I had a wobble/existential crisis about writing during April ... so let's dive into my month, in numbers ...

I attended a 7 hour writing day in a country hotel: 
If you read the blog post I wrote all about it - The writing day that made me consider giving up writing - then you'll already know all about how hours 1-6 were great while hour 7 made me panic and reconsider my dream of ever writing a book.

Since I published that post the day's host has since replied in the comments section, so if you want to know what she thought of my confessional then hop over to find out. And, speaking of comments ...

Rarely have 16 blog comments meant so much to me. 
If you were one of the 16 who took time to leave an encouraging comment on that post than thank you. So much. I can't even tell you what it meant to me. Your polite requests /outright demands that I don't give up writing, and your out-of-the-blue declarations that you'd contribute to a fund to get a book printed were just the most rewarding thing I could have read. And the personal stories you shared made my heart burst. Thank you.

And the month continued to treat me gently after that, ending on a particularly high note ...

I was asked for ID in Mark's & Spencer's while I was buying wine [in the '£10 meal for 2' offer]And while it's not the first time it's ever happened ... it was the first time since I turned 40.

All thanks to good genes, plenty of make-up,  and the poor eyesight of M&S staff.

While we're on the subject of messed-up chronology, in April James and I went back in time - twice.

We dropped in on 1914-18 - courtesy of the 'Horses At War' day at the Beamish open air museum:
There were all kinds of wartime equine scenarios playing out across the 300 acre site from how horses were used in farming and village life, to transportation and battle ...
These re-enactors of a lancer division were a pretty impressive sight and it certainly did make you aware of the living, breathing elements of a war which fortunately none of us saw close-up.

However, modern woman that I am, it did also make me consider just what kind of risk assessment they had to fill out before taking part: "You want to do what? Ride horses? OK. Right through the public areas? Where there's nothing stopping anyone from stepping in your way? OKaaaaayyyyy, riiiiight ... And, sorry, what's was that you said? Oh, you want to do all of that while controlling the horse with one hand while carrying a long sharp stick in the other? Have I got that right? I see. Well, you'll have to fill out this form."

Appropriately enough there was a handy field hospital/camp on site too ...
Alas, try as I might, I didn't spot Christopher Tietjens anywhere [and you know I tried.]
Also while were at Beamish ... we hovered on the bridge to get a good shot of the No.34:
And stayed to get an even better shot when its steam engulfed us as it passed beneath:
I would have taken an even more engulf-y shot from when the train was directly under us, but at the time, I was too busy being engulfed.

We also dropped in on St.Helen's Church, which in this layout dates from the 1820s. But walking past by this building used to be much easier for us ...
This church used to stand in a cemetery 2 minutes walk from our house.

Over the years it became run down and threatened with demolition until Beamish stepped in and dismantled, moved, and rebuilt it brick-by-brick on their site 40 miles away!

The whole project is now finished, and for the first time in my life [as far as I can recall] after years of walking past it, I finally went inside:
Not only does this feel like regular old time travel [an atmosphere which Beamish always instills]  ... for those of us familar with the original location of the building, this particular site feels like they've added teleportation into the mix too. [You can read more about the church here].

But perhaps one of the most memorable moments for James was having his facial hair officially acknowledged. Here it/he is on the vintage tram:
While we were standing outside the bakery a young member of staff [all of who dress in full period costume] walked by us wearing his waistcoat, rolled shirt sleeves, pocket watch ... and handlebar moustache. As he got nearer, their eyes met over their crowded facial hair, and just before he drew parallel the young man declared "Nice moustache!" Pretty sure it made his day.

[p.s: any of you who've seen the 'tache/ bowler hat combination on my Instagram this week, won't be surprised to learn that he's always threatening to go to Beamish in a cobbled together costume of his own. To blend in. I'm a saint. A saint I tell you.]

Right then, hold on to your hat [be it bowler, topper or just plain woolly] and let's zip forward in time, but not quite as far as today ...

We dropped in on 1939-45 when we visited the Yorkshire Pie & Mash Shop in Saltburn:
It was a lovely way to while away a Saturday lunch time; friendly staff, vintage decor:
Lovely food, loose leaf tea ... and they even gave us original 1930s papers to read while we waited:
And no - I didn't steal and/or cut them up!

Clearly in the 1930s people were also worried about their weight but for different reasons than people  are today.
And I'm thinking about weight because ... April was an especially scone heavy month:
I had at least 5 ... but very likely more. It's very easy to lose track.

Book related numbers.
April was an especially wordy month for me what with starting with a writing day and moving on to ...

The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Alas.
When I met up with my sister for our weekly 'drinks and nibbles' night she'd dressed the scene...
... with things she just had to hand. She'd also printed off lots of Shakespearean quotes that we still use today and we spent the night plucking them at random and guessing which play they came from. I guess that's just the kind of family we are.

[It's a bit like how, the following week, at Mam's house said "It's just what I've been messing with today" before presenting us with a multi-dish homemade tapas banquet.]

While looking for things to photograph for the blog post I wrote [Shakespeare & my sister. Life lessons from two people I've learned to listen to] I discovered that ...

 I own 3 copies of his 'Complete Works':
I seem to just keep accruing them. After all, how complete is complete?

I read 5 books 
None of which were the The Complete Works of Shakespeare but it did include 2 classics:
  • I read Persuasion by Jane Austen for the first time and wondered what on earth had taken me so long. If you want a good place to start with Austen, it's right there. 
  • And I reread The Catcher in the Rye as it was one of the options on my book club last month. It had been around 20 years since I first read it and I loved it so much this time around that I kept reading sections of it out loud to James. I came to the conclusion that like youth, this book is wasted on the young. Then promptly spoke to 2 people who'd loved it the first time but now hated it. You can't please everyone. 
The other 3 books were:  
  • Further Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes
  • Heft by Liz Moore 
  • and Lover by Anna Raverat [which was so, so very good]. 
  • If you use Pinterest you can hop through to links about all the books I've read this year here - right back to 2013 in fact]. 
I also started reading 3 practical/theory/writing books - but as I haven't finished them, I didn't count them.

And I picked up 2 free books at a World Book Night event. 
The event was held in the library at work and was great not only because - spending 12 hours a week in there - I knew exactly where I was going [I hate finding new places!] but they also gave everyone attending £2.00 to spend in the cafe [tea + Maltesers thankyouverymuch], plus the free World Book Night books and a free book bag to put them in.

The evening also included a talk by the author Helen Cadbury who, I must admit I didn't know anything about, but even without having read her books, it was still really entertaining. As well as reading from her book she covered more generic topics such as the writing and publishing process - so there was plenty to keep me interested. She was an engaging speaker and - if you live in the North East/Yorkshire - you can catch her on her on one of her other author events in the next few weeks [visit her events page here].

And finally [because I want to finish this post before June] ...

I shared 20 [of a total of 50] 4x4 inch collages in the The Copy and Paste Project Instagram exhibition I'm hosting with Kirsty Neale. 
This is a selection of mine and Kirsty's work - hop over to our shared Instagram account to see our collected works:
a compilation of collage images

We'll be sharing a collage-a-day for 26 more days until we have exhibited 100 works in total so do drop by for a look [you don't need to have an Instagram account to browse].


And so ... I'm now gently sliding a sleeping April off my lap and leaving it on the sofa while I head off into May.

Into sunshine [I hope. Please weather. It is Spring now.] Into more books. More collage. More writing (I decided not to put down my pen just yet ...). 

If you've blogged your numbers link me up and I'll be round to visit you
(Jennie and Ruth I'll be there soon!).

Thanks for reading me and offering your support this month. Here's to May. 

Julie x 


  1. On my ... there's so, so much in this Month in Numbers post ... James's facial hair, the pie and mash shop with vintage newspapers, engine #34, the relocated church ... I know that I'm going to come back and reread this, just because I can! A fabulous round-up for April.

  2. Hello, new friend! The Horses at War day looks fascinating! And I really want to read The Catcher in the Rye again someday :)

  3. What a great month you had! I only read one book in April but I loved it. It was Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I only read it because I read somewhere it was Barack Obama's favourite book of 2015 (I love him he is just so classy!). Such a great read.

  4. Enjoyed the post. You might want to add Instagram to your list of links in your right sidebar. I'm off to take a peek there.

  5. I just remarked here that making a layout and taking a picture with my phone to post to IG was so much easier than getting out the camera and thinking about what to write and putting together a post.

    Your Living History day looks wonderful: you have lots of great pictures there, should you feel moved to make a page or two

  6. I think Facebook and Instagram are killing the blog. And I am just as guilty and I miss mine so much. I am spending a bit of time to catch up now that I am crashed back to Earth. I refuse to give it up.

    CosPlay is all the rage now don't you know - let James dress up :P Beamish is somewhere I have wanted to visit for a long time. I must get there, those pictures are fab! And that church? How wonderful.

    I am enjoying yours and Kirsty's exhibition so much! And your little comments underneath each one just give them that bit more too. Especially when you unintentionally compliment each others with a collage that just fits.

    I missed your panic post. Everyone was right in what they said - do you forget how you've done classes that people have lapped up and you just have such a way of drawing people in when you write. I know what you mean though - some of what you wrote could have been me when I went back to school and having to draw or paint in front of these super talented young 'uns. Keep on. You are a writed - you can't possibly stop. If we prick you, do you not bleed... ink?

    x x x


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