Tuesday 31 May 2016

My Month in Numbers 2016: May

Well hello there.

Somehow, while none of us were looking, while we were all distracted by Instagram, library books, Game of Thrones and shiny shoes [just me?] May managed to slip out from under the duvet, sneak into the bathroom and get changed into June.

And now look .... we're halfway through the year and I still haven't written that book or properly taken up running or redecorated my dining room yet, and you [don't think you're getting away with it] you haven't done that thing you said you were definitely going to do in 2016, have you? No.

But, hang on, hang on, before either of us start anything too hastily [you can injure yourself without a proper warm-up .... so they say ... how would I know?] how about we both just pause to reflect over what we have managed to fit into the last 31 days? Sound good? OK, I'll go first ...

My Month ... in Numbers 2016: May

In our house we celebrated a birthday and an anniversary this month and this sign relates to one of them; can you work out which?
How rude!  James may be acquiring grey in his facial hair [but which of us isn't?! For his, see below.] but ...

... no, that's not his age [I'll tell him you said that] the '92' actually refers to the year we met.
There's so much 90s fashion in the shops now that, if I'd thought of it earlier, I could have entirely authentically recreated what I was wearing when we met. But ... I don't think I've got the confidence [or stomach muscles] to carry off a sleeveless black catsuit these days ...

But where was I? Oh yes, the sign. While browsing Etsy for a birthday gift for him I came across a selection of vintage Russian house numbers and fortunately that included a 92.

Because, as everyone knows, 24 years is the 'Enameled-Soviet-metal' anniversary. You didn't know?

I won't give his age away, suffice it to say he's older than me. Not that you'd guess he was fully mature after you see what he wanted to add to his outfit on his special day:
He [jokingly ... I think ...] completed his ensemble with a bowler hat that someone gave him a few years ago which normally lives in the hall, kind of as a decoration [yes, I've just realised how hipster that sounds ... oh my]. Needless to say - because we weren't going to a restaurant in London during the 1950s - I talked him out of it.

One day I should call his bluff and say "Yeah, wear it. It'll look great and absolutely no-one at all will stare." But then ... he'd probably call my bluff in return and actually go out in it ...

1 birthday candle in a rum baba: 
While we were ordering lunch at our favourite place to eat we were asked if we had the day off [it was midweek]. James said that yes, he did, because it was his birthday. And clearly the waiting staff quietly filed that fact away and when our deserts arrived they'd lit a candle in his caramelised pineapple! And it wasn't even horrifying in a 'oh my, don't make a fuss in public, pleeeeesssase' kind of way. No, it was lovely.

"Are you going to sing as well?" he asked the waitress, "I can if you want me to" she replied. He didn't. And I'm sure she was relieved! But way-to-go Robineau Cafe! As if we didn't already love you enough.

While we're on the subject of marking special occasions ... due to the wonders of Facebook's 'On this day ... ' feature I learned that ...

May 5th marked 7 years since Kirsty Neale and I launched 'The Copy and Paste Project' blog.

But we no longer run the blog [in ran for 2 years]  ... so why would it be worth mentioning its 7th anniversary?
  • Because that very same day -  by sheer serendipitous coincidence rather than design [we're just not that organised] - May 5th also happened to mark the exact halfway point of our latest incarnation of @theCopyandPasteProject 
  • On that day, in our #copyandpaste100collages exhibition over on Instagram we'd each shared 25 collages making a total of 50
  • And now we've shared all 50 each so - if you haven't caught up over there - there are 100 mini 4x4" collages for you to browse. Here's a thumbnail glimpse at almost one third of them:
It wont surprise anyone to learn that our first ever Copy and Paste Project challenge was based around a quotation from Hamlet. And ... the day before the halfway mark [again, not organised enough to realise it would have made a better story if I'd done it one day later ...], completely unplanned, I'd made a Hamlet collage for this project.

Of course I had. #onetrickpony

Friendship, scraps of paper, Shakespeare: eternal inspirations. And the man himself makes another appearance in my next set of numbers ...

My £6.00 charity shopping haul:
I scored a retro bed sheet and two pillowcases for £4.00, a 50p book about the Kenneth Branagh film version of Hamlet [my first experience of the great Dane back in the 90s ... possibly while wearing a sleeveless black catsuit, I don't remember now] and a £1.50 non-fiction exploration of handwriting by Philip Hensher - which is fascinating!

Alongside the Hensher book I also read:
  • Another non-fiction book: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty which is a really interesting - and funny - account of life on the other side of that curtain. It's a true eye-opener and Doughty [@thegooddeath on Twitter] really offers food for thought regarding the death 'industry'. [When have you ever thought seriously about embalming before? You will after you read this!] 
  • Girl Reading by Katie Ward. This is a novel in 7 different sections all touching on the same themes, all about women and representation, painting, photography etc ... with a twist in the final chapter. 
  • And Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg, which I found to be a useful, hands-on practical and inspiring writing guide. To paraphrase Victor Kiam: after borrowing and renewing it from the library I liked it so much I bought my own copy. 
If you'd like direct links to these, and all, the books I've read this year you can visit my dedicated Pinterest board. Not because I'm awesome at choosing books and think you should follow all my recommendations ... but because my local libraries, the campus library at work, and indeed charity shops, often throw up titles which I never would have heard of if I hadn't spotted them on their shelves ... so you might find something a little different that you fancy chasing up for yourself. 

I was twice asked what kind of writing I did. 
I mentioned this - and how I replied to those questions earlier in the month in my previous blog post [long story short: not very coherently], so here I'll just fill out a picture of where I was when I was asked ...

One occasion was during a really interesting [free!] business workshop I attended ... in 'real' life. Imagine!: 
As someone who's taken many an online course it made a change to go somewhere with living breathing people. So 'living and breathing' in fact that we were actually encouraged to use a hula-hoop during our break to see who could do the most turns. 

For me it was one of life's occasions where you ask yourself: 'What would Ron Swanson do?' and the answer was crystal clear: I declined. 

Meanwhile the second occasion was at a meeting that was kind of related to what I said in my introduction today - about writing a book this year - but I'm at the annoying stage where I have nothing concrete to share with you about any of it. But behind the scenes I'm in planning mode.

And just because I don't have a book to show yet, I have been writing [you already know about the writing day I attended last month] and if you want proof ... the other day on Instagram I posted this request:  

"I have 1/2 an hour to kill and can't decide what to write about. Suggestions please."
A plea to which my friend Helen responded with "Fear of putting yourself out there: why, what purpose?, how to overcome." and, without pausing to think if she meant 'in general' or specific to me, or her or whoever ... I just started my timed writing exercise, and allowed words to spill out:
I think I'll give crowd-sourcing my writing topics another try sometime - I tend respond well to serendipity and chance anyway, so this seems like a good way to orchestrate some! And I might have another read over what I came up with in this exercise and maybe blog it in full sometime too.

And I'll surely be doing more writing because look ... I bought a new notebook to write in.

I added a £1 notebook to my ever expanding collection:
I'd only gone in the £1 shop before work looking for deodorant [let's just say that something told me that I'd forgotten to apply it that day and I didn't want to spend the day with my arms by my sides!] but then there it was, in all it's £1/ 'Writing is thinking on paper' glory. And I couldn't help myself.

BTW: That noise you can hear is all my other new note books mumbling in unison: "To write in? To write in? She's just told them she's bought another new notebook to write in? But we've been here months, years and she's not so much as cracked our spines or scribbled on our back pages to test whether or not her pen's working. Sometimes I think she just likes keeping our pages virginal and full of potential."

And they might have a point.  Moving swiftly on ...

For about 30 hours it felt like I had something in my eye.
It began at work one day and gradually got worse and no amount of rubbing, blinking, poking around, would shift it. After work I tried to get an optician's appointment but had to wait until the following afternoon. After the optician carried out an eye-test [they said they couldn't look at my eye without going through the entire process!], she then put drops in and had a thorough look at my eyes through magnifying lenses and with all kinds of coloured lights. 

But rather than find anything on the eye itself it turned out it was my eyelid causing the trouble and the culprit of all that soreness and scratching turned out to be the story of my itchy, sensitive and sniffy life ... an allergic reaction. [I don't really have hay-fever ... so I'm thinking some pollen/another irritant must have fallen directly into my eye while I was outside ... who knows?] 

A few doses of allergy eye-drops and a warm-compress later I was almost back to normal and giving praises for pain-free eyes. There's nothing like a momentary discomfort, easily sorted, to remind you of the good health you take for granted. 

Oh and ... those eye-drops she used? They were kind of fluorescent. And it wasn't until I got back in my car and looked in my wing mirror that I realised I'd been walking around town and getting served in shops looking like this:
Anyone know if yellow eye-liner is in this season?

One of the shop assistants who served me and my yellow eyes worked in Clarks which is where I purchased ...

... my 4th pair of silver shoes:
Clark's silver shoes
Well, they're the 4th pair I currently own [brogues, ankle boots, ballet pumps, heels] I have had several [if not many] others in the past. And I can highly recommend them to anyone looking to strike up random conversations in the street ... as illustrated by the conversation I shared on Facebook the first time I wore them to work:

"First thing my student said to me as he got out of the taxi this morning: "Those are very silver shoes". Me: "Yes, they are". His taxi driver: "Have you sprayed them?". Me: "No." Taxi driver "But you haven't bought them like that." "Yes, I have" "Well you never see anything like that in the shops, do you?" "Well, they're the 4th pair of silver shoes I have, so, yes". "Well they look like they've been sprayed" "Well if they have it wasn't by me. Ask someone from Clarks because that's where I got them." "I will. Next time I have someone in the back from Clarks I'll ask them."

Best avoid wearing them on days when you're not feeling chatty ... 

And, finally, while we're on the subject of sparkly foiled silvery-ness ...

213 days before the big day itself I received my first Christmas crafting commission of the year: 
It's the same routine every summer; and every summer I have to wrangle myself into the festive spirit a little ahead of the calendar! But it's not so outlandish when you consider the magazine works 3 months ahead of schedule so the issue with my projects will go on sale in September - giving crafters 3 months to actually get those Christmas cards made.

Which is precisely what I should be doing ...


If May treated you kindly then hurrah! that's lovely! Maybe you fancy sharing a number or two on your own blog/social media: leave me a link and/or tag it #monthinnumbers and give me a dig in the ribs to let me know.

And if May was less than polite to you then, hurrah it's over! Long gone. done and dusted.

June's a new start. And we've both go that thing to start haven't we?

Julie x


  1. Black catsuits and silver shoes....my kind of post. H xxxx

  2. I actually think that look suits James. I really do.
    I have a groaning bookshelf of sketchbooks that would probably commiserate with your notebooks. I have now branched out into black paged ones and kraft paged ones to give me the excuse that I should try different paper. *ahem*
    One of the things I'm missing about finishing school is that I would get the train in and I really caught up on my reading - am determined not to let it slip again so will be perusing your list later. My book bargain of the week was Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger pennies on Amazon Market place plus postage. In as new condition. Very pleased am I. Oh and my reservation on Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert came in at the library after what seems like an age. I'm hoping it will be good, it's definitely very popular!

    Loved this as always Julie :)

  3. That thing I've not started yet this year... doing a month in numbers. Love, love, love the idea and your posts (oh to be so witty). Hello June, perhaps this is the month I might start counting!

  4. I love the way you write so that it feels like we are chatting over tea! Albeit a one sided conversation, I lurk/read in bloglovin which requires effort to make a comment. My mid year resolution is to click through and comment more often so you know how much I enjoy your writing!
    I LOVE James' hat but am afraid that if he wore it out maybe no-one would bat an eyelid?! That thing I haven't done ... Get back on the month I numbers train - maybe June is time. I did watch Populaire though in May and it was lovely, thanks for the recommendation :) keep putting yourself out there :)

  5. Outlander. Outlander and Instagram are what have been distracting me. I have a copy of the Natalie Goldberg too and have enjoyed it and I recommend "Writing Down the Bones" if you haven't read it.

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  7. A new journal? I love it, Julie!! Love the quote enough that I'm gonna write it in my commonplace journal even. :)

    I can't tell you how much I love your blog, you ALWAYS have something interesting to say and the way you say it [for real!]

    Oh, and thank you too for showing what a bowler hat looks like ... I'm in the middle of a book series and the word bowler hat has been brought up more than a few times in the books and I had no idea what one looked like but now, thanks to James and to you sharing the pic - I now know!

    Oh and Happy Belated Birthday to James [May was my birthday month as well ... oh my word, do I dare spread this all over the internet? On May 8th - I turned .............. 60. Waaaaaaaah, I don't wanna be this old [but must say that it's better than the alternative! lol]

  8. I do so love these monthly round-up of numbers posts! I'm with you on the new notebook thing ... I can currently see 9 'new' notebooks on my shleves... 9! Tell James that May is a very good month in which to have a birthday. He may be older than you, but I'd put money on him being younger than me!
    My numbers for May are here: http://suburbansahm.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/month-in-numbers-may.html

  9. Doesn't 't James look wonderful? Most impressive! As is your description of all the other things which have happened to you this month. And I wish I had the confidence to wear silver boots as yours are very splendid indeed. Your conversation cracked me up!


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