Wednesday 2 November 2016

My Month in Numbers 2016: October

Spotted in October on the side of The House of Blah Blah, Middlesbrough
It was frosty this morning which makes me suspect that - once again - winter is coming. It's almost like it's happening every year now isn't it? Anyway ... before November truly gets into its stride (wearing two pairs of socks and waterproof boots, legwarmers optional) let me re-cap my October ... in numbers.

October was a pretty busy month round here, I've been out and about a fair amount starting with a visit to the new 'Flesh' exhibition at York Art Gallery on the 1st ...

25 5/8 inches or 65cm = the height of the Ron Mueck sculpture 'Youth':
This was the second time I've seen this piece (the first was in a brilliant exhibition at Belsay Hall in 2010), and it was still as fascinating second time around. The detail, as with all Mueck's works, is incredibly lifelike despite its reduced scale, to get a feel of how realistic the piece is put your hand over the bottom of the photo, hiding the plinth; you can almost be fooled into thinking he's merely a photo of a fellow gallery browser can't you?

While at the gallery we re-visited Claire Twomey's Manifest: 10,000 hours installation which feaures 10,000 ceramic bowls 

Even though I'd seen them before, I'd never seen them in the beautiful early October, early afternoon sun cast from a skylight. Just magical:

And - this one's not number related - but I just wanted to share this photo because I love it:
It's possibly because I'm really shallow and I really like everything he's* wearing here, and when I look at it I just want to sidle up alongside him, ruffle the hair on the back of his neck, and rest my hand on his shoulder. In fact ... that's very likely precisely what I did after taking this.

*Yes, it is James. No it's not some random gallery goer. What do you take me for?

If York Art Gallery feels like somewhere you might like to while away a wintry hour then you can see more of the place in my review of the gallery from earlier this year.

Other cultural highlights of October: 

I attended my 3rd, 7 hour, 'Seasonal Space to Write' writing day.
Not a bad view to stare at while I was trying to decide how to structure the novel I've embarked on:
After the crisis of my first writing day (which I described in painful detail here) I felt much more relaxed this time and (almost) like it was perfectly natural for me to be there. I say 'almost' because - along with my mini laptop, a notebook and pen, I still carry with me an element of imposter syndrome. Which means that while people are all chatting about their work, and asking me about mine, and I'm telling them about the book I'm currently working on,  I do tend to feel that any minute now someone will recognise me as a complete fraud and ask me to leave.

And of course, the most difficult aspect of all that is, that the only person who thinks I'm out of place there is me. For all I know everyone else is sitting there feeling exactly the same way, waiting to be outed as not a 'real' writer.

But the only way I'm going to get more used to the idea that I am a writer (totally cringed writing that ... can't even look at the screen) ... is to keep going to places like this, and talking to people with similar passions, and to keep flexing my writerly muscles (they're mainly in my forearms from all the typing and the fore finger on my right hand which I use to switch on the kettle.)

You know one thing that might help persuade me that I'm a writer? Holding my own - printed - book in my hands ... and that day is creeping nearer ...

I finalised 3 more sections of my Snipped Tales book: the cover design, blurb, and acknowledgements. 
If you missed the sneak peek of the cover design catch it here - and I'll share more details on the cover and contents very soon.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 4th presentation I've seen given by The History Wardrobe combining women's social history with costume history.
This latest talk was called 'Jolly Hockeysticks' which centres around female education - covering everything from the struggles women have had to get into university and the kinds of subjects girls have traditionally been restricted to learning ... to how clothing has shaped, helped or hindered the participation of girls and women in education and sports:
As I say, this was the 4th event of theirs we've been to (we've also seen Fairytale Fashion, Women of WW1 and Gothic for Girls) and, if you haven't been to one, I think my sister's description of the night explains it best: "I go thinking it's about the clothes ... then come out all militant".

Here we are, two militants #frowing:
... by which I mean we were in the front row (I have neither sat in nor written the word 'frow' until this but it's what those in the fashion world call it ...I've seen it on Instagram so, y'know.) .

My sister wasn't convinced that it was the best place to sit (we don't really have front-row-showy kind of genes) but Mam wanted to sit there and we liked the idea of a good view of the clothes and so we took our place and I promised her I wouldn't let anything happen to her during the performance. Ahem.

Then ... (can you guess what's coming here?) ... during the performance ... she had an old school hand bell thrust towards her by one of the and was told to ring it. Which she did.

"You said you wouldn't let anything happen to me" she said afterwards, "I had to ring a bell!!" she declared as I laughed and winced at the same time.

"I know I know" I placated "But you did it very well".

I'm not sure exactly which clause of The Sisterly Code I broke there ... but, whichever it was, I think she's now forgiven me.

I ate out 4 days in a row .. and plenty of other times either side! 
Here's one of the meals - mushroom, cashew, and smoked cheese plait - from a local vegetarian restaurant: 
Which I followed up with ice cream and butterscotch sauce because - if there was one thing I loved about school (and, honestly, there wasn't much more than one thing) it was when ice cream and butterscotch sauce was on the day's school dinner menu! And now I'm an adult I don't see why I should miss out. 

At some point this month James was on the phone to his mother when I heard him saying "No, she's not a vegetarian, no". I think he'd been telling her about a vegetarian meal we'd had and she remembered that we'd also been to the veggie restaurant and I guess she thought she'd missed the memo about my sudden meat embargo. 

However ... if she'd seen what I had for Sunday lunch when 4 friends and I went out to celebrate a birthday ... she'd have been under no delusions that I'd turned vegetarian ... 
We were all browsing the menu when one of us, maybe it was me I'm not sure, said "I think I'll have the liver and bacon".
And another said ... "I was going to have that", then another said the same, and another (including Jean who likes to count how many times a year she gets a mention on my blog. What number's that now Jean?).

 All of which led to one of the strangest things I've ever heard a waitress say ... as she brought our meals through she stopped at our table and, wondering who to hand each meal out to, asked "Four livers?"

As macabre as that sounded it was completely delicious, if extremely filling, which begs the question of how - and indeed why - we all then went on to have dessert ... followed by tea  ... accompanied by the squares of fudge they brought with it! I was very nearly sick. Genuinely.  I had to leave the table. I do't think I've been so nauseous after a birthday party since I was about 6! (Although in those days it was the fault of dancing too energetically to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun after eating my bodyweight in crisps and iced gems).

And finally ... after all that indulgence I did at least attempt to balance it out with some exercise:

I took 6 x 20-ish minute morning walks.
I've checked my photos and can only find 6 walks in there but it feels like more, possibly because when I get back home I write up the walks - which I then share on Instagram - and when I total up the amount I've written  it comes to close to 2000 words for 6 little walks! I spend longer writing up my observations than I spend observing them in the first place.

And lastly ...
For the first time this new term I walked up all 10 flights of stairs in the tallest building on campus:
And while the view may have been worth it:

... I can't say the same for the number of the calories burned. According to a heart-health promotion sign in the stairwell  ... climbing up the 240 steps of the 10 flights burns off  ... have a guess how many calories  ...

Nope-  not that many - it's a dishearteningly underwhelming 43!!!  43. 

I mean - I probably ingested more than 43 calories just by breathing in deeply near the display of cheese toasties in the campus cafe!

43 measly calories; that's how many are in one of the travel sweets I carry in my work bag.

Goodness knows how many stairs you'd have to climb to work off 4 livers!!!


Well that was my October, mild weather, highly foodie, and with a smattering of cultural events to keep me out of mischief.

This morning, the 2nd day of November, we had the first frosts and last weekend the Christmas24 channel started up again ... and so we're swiftly running out of Autumn and sliding headlong across on an icy pavement into the arms of Winter.

I wonder how many calories that'll burn up ...

See you soon.
Julie x


  1. I went to Uni slightly later than the usual 18 year olds, I was thinking I would be 'found out', that someone would point to me and say'you have to leave now'. Keep on with the writing, you are talented and I enjoy reading your blog, a novel sounds brilliant.

    1. I know just what you mean Carole - I was also older than the majority of my peers at Uni too! Thanks for your support - I don't know if the novel will ever see the light of day - but I'm sure I'll learn a lot along the way.

  2. Snipped tales and now the start of a novel - who says you're not a 'proper' writer? ;-) Can't wait to see the book - I'm sure you're already thinking 'did I order the right amount? did I?'
    Liver and bacon - bleugh! But I do know if me and my husband had been there, it would have been a 5 livered table. Because I don't like it, I don't cook it so for him it's a real luxury if he finds it on a menu.
    Some great numbers once again - I'm sure your sister will trust you again eventually!

    1. I'm constantly worrying about whether I ordered the right amount! Only time (and hard work, and awkwardness, and many many words of promotional material and pitches to magazines and bloggers) will tell!!

      And funnily enough that's exactly why we all chose the liver - because we all had partners who don't eat it - so it was a rare treat!

  3. Hello my far-away friend :)

    That view looks like the walk up the stairs was DEFINITELY worth it...

  4. Thanks for putting a smile on my face this morning! You do manage to live such interesting months (not sure that is grammatically correct, but you know what I mean ...). Liver? Ugh, no thanks. Well done on walking up all those stairs!

  5. Mmm, the vegetarian meal you showed in the pic looks really good! [I actually AM a vegetarian but only 'cuz the thought of eating something dead makes me gag. LOL]

    Wow - 10 flights of stairs only burn 43 calories? Oh, I don't know that I'm glad to have read this. I just go up one flight and thought that surely it must be doing some good [after all, when you're huffing and puffing when you get to the top - surely you've just exercised and so it HAS to be beneficial, right? lol]

    There are 8 flights of stairs in the building I live in but most times I take the elevator. Laziness? Yep and I do think that from now on, I'm not gonna feel quite as bad about it [43 calories!] ha! ha!

    Have a good day!!


  6. As always, a pleasure to read..which, of course, means I'm very glad you wrote it. Just wait til you have that book in your hands and you are starting to think about the next one..

    ps: would have loved to be at Jolly Hockey Sticks with you

  7. Here are my month in number - happy to be playing along again -

    1. By the way running a half marathon only burns 1600 calories - felt like I should have burnt off a weeks worth!!

  8. I am a bit late, but have really enjoyed your month in numbers nevertheless. A very gastronomic thirty-one days - I might pass on the liver but would share a piece of fudge. Glad to hear the writing is coming along and you're settling into the job description :).


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