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I’m sitting down to write this with hands that still smell of rum, orange, and a spattering of bay oil. I’ve been making bay rum, and I’ve secreted a coffee jar of the stuff in the cupboard above my wardrobe, where I’ll leave it to brew for a few weeks.

I’d like to see this as a symptom of a certain change in outlook that’s come over me over the past few days. Rather than aimlessly leaping from task to task, as the need arises, I’m taking a genuine intellectual interest in everything I’m doing. I’m focusing. I’m getting organised, too. I’ve already ranted about Getting Things Done by David Allen to those friends unfortunately close enough to me to endure suchlike barrages of passion at irregular intervals, but it honestly has proved to be an invaluable tool in ensuring that I’m on track with all of the various projects and tasks I have going at any one time, particularly given my innate entropic tendencies when it comes to attempting to impose any form of order on my life at any given time.

I’m going to stave off writing a post about my long term vision for my blog (and by analogy, my life) for now, given that I have more important things to be getting on with, but expect one. Soon.

Anyway, I’m off. Got a date with Middle English Romances.

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Me IRL

So I said I would blog, and blog I shall. Yesterday, Tim, Cathy, Matt and Ryan had a horror film/game night. We watched The Cabin in the Woods. It’s a great film – thoroughly recommend you watch it if you haven’t already. That’s not the central thrust of what I wanted to talk about here, mind. No siree. Rather, the interesting part of the night came when Cathy and Ryan left Tim and Matt alone, and decidedly less than sober. Though harmless, this is almost never a good idea. Twitter gets bombarded with irreverent sub-140 character messages about various items of the human anatomy exclusive to men, ridiculously convoluted in-jokes are spouted at random followed by intense and wholly inexplicable bursts of laughter, and, at some point, Matt can usually be found living in my wardrobe. Interestingly, last night proved to be the exception to the rule. We did eventually play Amnesia (which was terrifying), but again, that’s not what I’m blogging about. Before Amnesia, we did several hours of maths.

 

Yep.

 

Maths.

 

To cut a long story short, it was genuinely fascinating. I’m a tiny bit jealous of mathematicians now. I’m certainly not arrogant enough to imply that I actually had a knack for it, but Matt proved to be a sufficiently adept teacher that I understood most of what was explained. The sheer triumph of being able to grasp a lot of it, despite drinking in preparation for Amnesia (and amnesia more broadly, I suppose) was amazing, particularly as I’d assumed that I just wasn’t cut out for…well…anything outside of the humanities.

The direction of my enthusiasm isn’t singly towards maths, mind. That’s just a symptom of something much bigger.

The caption for my blog at the moment is “A blog recording one man’s attempt to learn and do ALL the things.” This has manifestly not been achieved, thus far. This is something I plan on rectifying. Essentially,  I’m fascinated by the idea of the Renaissance Man. I don’t want to turn this post in to a massive essay, and there are a number of things that I need to cover, but I think I know what direction I want to take with my blog, now. It should be pretty rad.

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“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has [not blogged for a very, very long time].”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of [the raw stuff of blogging], and a [blog] around his face.

So the above, sans unnecessary religious import, details the death of my blog and subsequent miraculous resurrection thereof. Rather than serving as a manifestation of the Divine Will, however, my blog owes its second wind to the owner finally getting a grip on his workload. Accordingly, prepare for a veritable bombard of sporadic reflections on whatever comes to mind when I have a spare moment. As of yet, I haven’t decided on quite what I want to do with my blog, but I’m hoping that the sheer cumulative weight of posts over time should indicate an inclination that I can refine, as time goes by.

 Be seeing y’all soon.

The trouble with holidays – even short ones, such as our own – is that they tend to leave one rather at a loss when attempting to get back into the scheme of things, rather like when one tries to pick up a book where one left off many moons ago. I’ve never been good at hitting the ground running, and I’d like to think that this explains, if not excuses, the brief lull in blog entries, as well as my failure to rescue my various seedlings after a week of unexpectedly tolerable weather for the north managed to scorch them all. We’ve come back to one chicken dead and another dying, too, with no obvious evidence as to why. Probably the shock of seeing the sun for the first time in months.

The trouble, you see, is that I’ve not really done an awful lot that’s blog-worthy, these past few days. Oh, it’s not that I’ve done nothing – far from it, in fact. I’ve met up for a coffee with friends, watched The Dark Knight Rises, started reading For Whom the Bell Tolls, tackled a little more of my reading list for next term (though not as much as I should have done, perhaps), merrily ploughed through German grammar (though largely forgetting it all shortly afterwards), taken up my lifting, running, and eating healthily where I left off before Cornwall hit me square-on in the abdomen like a cannonball comprised entirely of carrot cake and mead, and even started to brush up on my familiarity with British trees (it’s a guilty pleasure – NO REGRETS). Finding things to keep myself amused is never all that difficult. Rather, I’ve just learned that most people aren’t really all that interested in how to distinguish between a hornbeam and a beech tree (beech has smooth leaf edges and fewer leaf veins, if you’re interested). “Why would you ever need to know this?” is a check that I’ve not quite cracked being able to apply.

Still, I’ve started up a new whittling project, picked up my guitar for the first time in some time, and I plan on starting cooking again fairly promptly, so perhaps I can furnish a few blog entries with some of my hobby-related escapades at some point. More importantly, both Edinburgh Fringe and wildcamping are on the cards for the next few weeks, so there should be a reappearance of tales of derring-do before too long. Until then, those hoping for Bond-esque car chases, shoot-outs, espionage and gritty brawling are likely to be a little disappointed.

And so we reach the spine-tingling conclusion of the Forshaw family’s adventures in Cornwall. Writing in the comfort of my own room, newly adorned with coffee plant(s), what tales of bravery, treachery, and forbidden love might be woven? What beasts were slain; what damsels rescued? These questions are, unfortunately, airily rhetorical, and the answer to all is a resounding none. Sorry about that. If you were expecting a little more from a narrative pertaining to a northern family’s brief excursion down south, then I refer you to the following:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YinJaXzgzqI&feature=related

Hopefully redeeming my exploitation of a rather unnecessary level of suspense, we did, however, go to the beach. Porthcothan Bay, to be precise. The journey there was a pointlessly protracted affair, given the father’s innate tendency by nature of his role to object to the plans made by his children, and so, rather than going straight to Porthcothan, we travelled a goodly portion of the entirety of the coast of North Cornwall in a bid to find anything at all that might qualify as a beach. By the time we reached Porthcothan, a masterful coup d’etat on the part of yours truly and my brother ensured that the day was saved.

The entirety of the above may have blown events slightly out of proportion. A bit. Perhaps. But blogging is boring without permission to wilfully tamper with the truth in a grandiose bid to make oneself seem rather fantastic.

Then we had fun on the beach. Or rather, we would have had fun, if only I hadn’t left my swimming shorts back at the holiday house. Cue Tim refusing a spare pair of his brother’s shorts in a desperate attempt to pander to his own pointless narcissism, and proceeding to dig a large hole in the beach for no easily discernible reason, for upwards of an hour. By the time I’d gone through a flask of coffee and inadvertently created a substantial paddling pool for the sister to play in (read: be contained in, given her unwillingness, and indeed inability, to get out), I eventually admitted that enough was enough, and graciously accepted defeat. Finally getting changed, I went bodyboarding with father dearest. What fun! Oh how we laughed and frolicked and playfully splashed each other in the warmth of the Cornish sea.

I’m doing that whole lying thing again. “The warmth of the Cornish sea” is a total contradiction in terms. We shivered and got hit in the face by waves a lot, and I grimaced and spat out salt water a lot in a bid to look macho, whilst clinging to my small child’s bodyboard, gleefully ornamented with sharks, daubed on a rather incongruous background of fiery apocalyptic explosions (the bodyboard, that is, not me).

By the time I finally decided that Poseidon’s Cornish vice-regent had indisputably bested me, I was a coughing, spluttering wreck of a man. Was this the end for the Tim we all love and cherish? Not really. I just stood and shivered, sulking at the ocean’s manifest unwillingness to yield me another source of caffeine. Eventually, I dried off, and toddled off to go and explore the local caves.

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The next day was the final day of the holiday, and my deep abiding love of all things arboreal was finally indulged in a trip to a local wood. Once again, we were blessed with an unreasonably long car journey, this time thankfully not due to dad’s intransigence, but rather because the Cornish road network is closely modelled on the Cretan labyrinth. The woodland walk was worth it, though, even if vast swathes of it were a monoculture (seeing perfect row after perfect row of the same tree species has always struck me as faintly uncanny). Sister spent the duration of the walk being carried by me or one of the parents, and demanding ice-cream. Incessantly. After a minute or so of an infinite regress something along the lines of

“You can’t have ice-cream”

“Why?”

“Because there are no ice-cream parlours in the middle of a forest”

“Why?”

“Because there’s no-one to buy the ice-cream”

*brief cogitative pause* “…Why?”

the conversation would inevitably descend into a chant of “ice-cream ice-cream ice-cream”, increasing in tempo, pitch, and volume. Ironically, we then came across a shop that sold ice-cream in the car park. A few pictures follow:

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Spotted this little guy just chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool on the path. I think he’s a Dor beetle – a dung beetle of some form. Total bro.

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ImageWe watched the Olympic opening ceremony in the evening. Absolutely outstanding. My Facebook stream quickly descended into a polarisation between “PROUD 2 B BRITISH 2K12” and “I literally have no idea what I’m watching”, so I’m assuming most people watched it. Hence, I won’t wax lyrical, but the sheer power of the music and quite how eclectic a melange it was of Britain’s various cultural exports totally won me over. Personal favourite was the Industrialisation sequence – the force and vivacity of the choreography, the music, and the scenery in concord with one another was electrifying, to say the least.

Anyway, that’s the holiday blogged. Doesn’t mean I’m stopping blogging, of course – I’ll still be blogging regularly, and at about the same pace, only this time, it’s more likely to be about hobbies, projects, and my own little excursions into the middle of nowhere, rather than family days out. Hope I still have some of you on board!

I’m not entirely sure whether I plan to do these daily, or just as regularly as is warranted by me actually having something worth blogging about. I want to be consistent, but I don’t want to be boring. This blogging lark is hard work. Ah well. Yesterday was worth blogging about anyway.

Yesterday, for those not in the loop (and this is a very small loop – perhaps little larger than that tiny loop on the eye of a needle), was my parents’ 25th anniversary, and to celebrate, we decided to visit the Eden Project. I imagine most people are at least vaguely familiar with what the Eden Project is – the compound eye-esque hemispheres jutting out of a sea of greenery is a fairly ubiquitous image of British tourism – but for those that aren’t, it’s a regeneration scheme in a decommissioned china clay pit, centred around two terrariums containing two separate biomes: one Mediterranean, the other rainforest.

ImageThe Mediterranean biome.

ImageThe rainforest biome.

There’s also an outdoor biome, which, besides a number of conceptual gardens, mostly reproduces a native biome:

ImageWe had a little trouble with the heat – a giant greenhouse is one of the few buildings that can’t be used to escape the summer heat. A semi-literal out of the frying pan and into the fire, as it were. Besides that, though, it was a great day. I’ve been green-fingered for most of my life (possibly congenital; probably not infectious), so the opportunity to visit a permaculture on the scale of the Eden Project was quite the luxury. Had a baobab and coconut ice cream too, which was surprisingly nice. The entire experience has redoubled my enthusiasm for tending my own plot at home, so expect posts about my garden’s progress, once I’m home.

On an unrelated note, the parents enjoyed their 25th anniversary. I enjoyed their anniversary too. More precisely, I enjoyed the mead. And the wine. Quite a lot of it.

Oh, one last thing.

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This. This is the coffee plant I picked up at the Eden Project gift shop. It’s my baby. It needs a warm, fairly humid environment, and can stand low light levels fairly well. My room at uni should be ideal, then.

Today, we’re heading off to a beach. “Where?” I hear you implore. Spoilers.

(We have no idea where we’re going. The plan thus far approximates to driving in the direction of the sea, and hoping that we meet a beach before we cross the sea and reach Wales).

Quote of the day from Tess (little sister): “I love you, Tim; you’re my boyfriend.”

ImageAdopting a fairly conventional approach to blogging, I’mma sit you all down and tell you about my adventures thus far. I’m on holiday in Cornwall with the family at the moment, to celebrate my parents’ 25th anniversary. Given the occasion, we’ve opted for a slightly more expensive holiday house for the week. The choice has paid dividends. The house is a warren of rooms, bedecked with rustic decor – an open range in the kitchen, exposed wooden beams (with authentic woodworm, no less), a spattering of railway-themed antiques (accompanied by a miniature railway in the garden – my fanatic senses are tingling), and double beds with en-suite bathrooms for everyone. There are 4 acres of grounds to roam in, including a stream (roaming in the stream is probably ill-advised), a swimming pool, and a summer house. Swimming pool is freezing, and we can’t get the heating/pumping system to work for it by any feat of sorcery, but it’s early days yet. If I get chance, I’ll have a look around for some wood for carving, as I’ve brought my tools with me, but I’m hardly short of things to do.

What follows is a potted history of what we’ve done with our first few days. For the most part, it won’t be a tremendously exciting read:

Saturday: Arrived and unpacked. Marvelled at mighty crossbeams. Tea disrupted by a riveting game of “spot the microwave”. Squirrelled ourselves away into our respective rooms.

Sunday: Practised impersonating vegetables in our respective haunts. Went shopping, and bought enough food to relieve a famine. Attempted to brave the swimming pool. Narrowly avoided catching hypothermia. I did my usual, and spent my free time reading and language learning.

Monday: Here it finally starts to get interesting! We visited the castle ruins at Tintagel, as I’ve wanted to see it ever since I heard the tone poem dedicated to it by Arnold Bax, and the parents were keen to visit it again too. It was a bit difficult to navigate the stairway up the cliffs, given the need to coax my younger sister up the steps despite her resolute unwillingness to comply, but the ruins at the top were well worth it, and the view from the outlying cliffs was stunning. Sister was clearly exhausted and aching all over by the time we were contemplating heading back, so I carried her back, and was obliged to sing nursery rhymes for the entire duration of the journey. I was running short towards the end, so I replaced the 96th rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with The Rains of Castamere, which apparently suited her just as well. Brother bought a horn mug, which unsurprisingly reeked of dead animal. Solution? Soak in bleach, then attempt to drink from it. Joe was never blessed with common sense. Now the horn smells of bleached dead animal, which can’t honestly be said to be an awful lot more pleasant.

Tuesday: I’m writing this at the dining table, post pasta-based debauch, so I can’t say what unearthly delights the evening will offer. Thus far, we’ve been shopping at Padstow, which wasn’t remarkably successful, as there wasn’t a bookshop in sight, and there are only so many pastry products that a single individual can consume before one starts to tire of them. Have started reading The Discarded Image by C. S. Lewis.

Tomorrow, we’re off to the Eden Project, and the gardener in me is immeasurably excited.